If my roommate refuses to pay her portion of the rent and wants to move before the lease is up, can I take her to civil court?

UPDATED: Jan 6, 2012

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If my roommate refuses to pay her portion of the rent and wants to move before the lease is up, can I take her to civil court?

My roommate could not be added to the lease due to her criminal history but her mother signed the lease for her as a co-signer with myself. My roommate is now claiming she has placed her rent in an escrow account. Can I still take her to court if I get evicted?

Asked on January 6, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You can take whoever is named on the lease with you to court, however, you still bear responsibility for the full rental payment. The reason is that, when you signed the lease you both collectively and individually became legally responsible for it. This is known as "joint and several liability". This means that if 1 tenant doesn't pay their share of the rent then the other tenant is liable for it. 

That having been said, in answer to your question, you can take your roommate (i.e. the person named with you on the lease) to court and sue for any money that you are out-of-pocket on their behalf. If you win, you will be granted a judgment. You could then have the notation of the judgement placed on their credit report. You can do this whether or not you are evicted.

So why don't you inform this girl and/or her mother all of this and see if that prompts either of them to come up with some rent money. Otherwise, you can use the judgment to garnish their wages and/or other personal assets, such as bank accounts (make them aware of this as well).

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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