What legal action can I take against a roommate who has moved out early?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What legal action can I take against a roommate who has moved out early?

I have a 3 bedroom apartment my roommate X and I signed the lease. Roommate Z agreed to live with us and sign the leased. I found out at a later date that her name was printed as a roommate on the lease but she did not sign it. The landlord crossed out the payment of $1,100 a month to $1,200 a month after the lease was signed in another color ink. Roommate Z moved out with little notice and won’t pay her $400. She also agreed in text that she would keep paying which I still have. Also, would I only have to pay $1,100 not $1,200?

Asked on December 30, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

1) Yes, you only need to pay $1,100: *all* parties to a contract (and that's what a lease is: a contract) have to agree to changes in it, such as changes in rent. The landlord could not increase your rent unless you and X both consented.
2) If you allowed Z to live with you on the basis that she would be responsible for the rent, then even if she was not a signatory to the lease, you could sue her (e.g. in small claims court, acting as your own attorney) for her share of the rent; you would sue based on her breach of contract--her agreement with you. Even if you and she did not put that agreement in writing, an oral (unwritten) agreement is enforceable, though it is obviously easier to prove the existence and terms of a written agreement.

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