How come I am the only one being charged for damages on an apartment when my roommate was also on the lease?

UPDATED: Dec 22, 2010

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How come I am the only one being charged for damages on an apartment when my roommate was also on the lease?

Approximately 2 years ago, my roommate and I were evicted becasue she did not pay her share of the rent. She even slept through the court date, although I attended. The amount we owe is around $1,000. However it is only on my credit report. We were both on the lease as primary tenants. I even took pictures when I left, showing how I painted over my walls, cleaned my carpet, etc. and how her room was left with spray paint on the walls, trash everywhere, etc. Is this legal? I refuse to pay it until she pays half, but they aren’t even asking her for money, just me. Should I take her to court? Get the apartment involved?

Asked on December 22, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Missouri


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Tenants on a lease are deemed to be both "jointly and severally liable".  This means that  in a situation such as this, that either or both tenants can be sued.  Unfortunately for you, your landlord has chosen to seek damages from just you (probably because you are such responsible type of person, they feel that the chances of getting payment from you is greater).

What you'll need to do is to pay the $1,000.  After that, you'll have to sue your former roommate in small claims court.  This will cost you money but you will still probably come out ahead.  As for your credit report, once this has matter has been legally resolved, you can submit an explanation that will appear on your report.  It may be of help.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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