Is a co-signer of a lease liable for arenewal lease that they did not sign?

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Is a co-signer of a lease liable for arenewal lease that they did not sign?

I’ve co-signed a lease for my sister several years ago for an apartment unit in the same building that I’m living in. At the time I was employed but now I’ve retired and I don’t have any earnings except for a very small social security. My sister was evicted almost a year ago and now the building is trying to bring a lawsuit against me to collect “damages” they claim were done to the apartment. I don’t have any money to hire a lawyer nor do I have any savings to pay this amount of money. I signed for the first 2 years of her lease but once her lease was renewed, I no longer co-signed haven’t signed it. Am I still responsible to pay?

Asked on July 14, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First get a copy of the lease that you co-signed for your sister and read it carefully. The written lease is the start for answering your question.

If the lease is actually a two year period specifically stated upon it with an option to extend it, the option to extend the lease for the renewal, most State laws require a writing by the original co-signer to be signed for the original co-signer to be bound.

If the lease was orally renewed between the landlord and your sister after the original term expired thta you signed for as a co-signer, then you should not be obligated for the period beyond what you agreed to.

If your city or county has a rent control board, perhaps calling the board to lodge a complaint against the landlord may be the way to go.


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