Is it legal that a company only billed1 of4 people who broke a lease?

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Is it legal that a company only billed1 of4 people who broke a lease?

My boyfriend and I moved out before the other 2 decided to break the lease. I’m the only 1 of the 4 that signed the lease that is receiving a massive bill now; it’s affected my credit any chances of me or my boyfriend of moving somewhere.

Asked on March 10, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Rhode Island

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is legal. When multiple people are on a lease, they each can be held responsible for the total amount due under it (though altogether, the landlord cannot collect more than the total due under the lease). The landlord has the option of which person(s) to seek compensation from for breaking the lease--he can legally look to get all the money from one person, and will frequently go after whoever appears to be most solvent (e.g. why bother suing someone who has no money) or most easily sued (some people may be harder to locate or reach, for example). 

However, you in turn could potentially sue your roommates for their contributions--while the landlord doesn't have to seek money from them, you are allowed to seek reimbursement of the portions they would have paid. You should consult with an attorney about doing this.


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