Can our landlord make us pay our roommates portion of rent after they left without permission?

UPDATED: Aug 10, 2012

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Can our landlord make us pay our roommates portion of rent after they left without permission?

Each month my roommates and I pay $1950 for rent. Several months ago one of our roommates moved out and we didn’t give her permission to leave and she is still on the lease. Our landlord told us we have to still pay the full $1950. Is there a way to have the rent reduced or not pay the portion that the roommate who left would cover? In the contract it just has a sum that needs to be paid each month, it was an amount that needed to be paid per person. I can’t find anywhere in the contract that states if someone leaves then we have to pay what that person would have been paying.

Asked on August 10, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Utah


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Actually, your landlord is correct. The reason is that when you all signed the lease you collectively and individually became legally responsible for fullfilling its terms, including the payment of the full rent. This is known as "joint and several liability". This means that if one of the tenants doesn't pay their share of the rent then the other tenants are liable for it.

However, you all have the right to take your roommate to court and sue for any money that you are out-of-pocket on their behalf. You will be granted a judgment if you win. You could then have the notation of the judgement placed on your delinquent roomate's credit report. Why don't you inform hem of this and see if that prompts them to come up with their share of the rent. Otherwise, you can use the judgment to garnish their wages and/or bank account (at least if its worth your time and trouble to do so).

In the meantime, you'll need to find a replacement tenant who is suitable to your landlord.

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