If I am on a lease with a roommate but moved outalthough am paying the rent,do I still owe1/2 of all utilities?

UPDATED: Nov 2, 2011

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If I am on a lease with a roommate but moved outalthough am paying the rent,do I still owe1/2 of all utilities?

I understand that I must continue paying my portion of the rent because I am on the lease. However he is making it difficult for me to find another roommate because he smokes pot. I didn’t want anything to do with the pot so I got out but everyone who calls about renting it wants to know if there are any drugs in the house. When I say the roommate smokes pot, they aren’t interested. Landlord says he can’t remove me from lease because it’s a joint lease and roommate doesn’t want to move. Roommate still wants me to pay half of all utility bills. Do I have to? can he be evicted for pot?

Asked on November 2, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) The roommate can only be evicted for pot if the lease itself makes doing drugs or criminal activity grounds for eviction. Otherwise, he could potentially be arrested, if the police were informed of what's going on, but so long as the rent was paid, would not be evicted.

2) If you and your roommate are both on the lease with the landlord, you cannot be removed unless your roommate as well as the landlord agreed to do so; all parties to a contract (and that's what a lease is: a contract) must agree to changes in it, including releasing a party from his or her obligations.

3) As to utilities: if either the lease requires you (as a tenant) to pay utilities, or you had an agreement with your roommate to pay them, you'd have to keep paying. If there was no agreement specifically to pay 1/2 and you were just paying half to be a good roomate and do the fair thing while you were living there, you would seem to not have to pay them now that you are no longer using the utilities.

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