Should I immediately sue my housemate for signing a lease with me and then 3weeks later move to another state?

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Should I immediately sue my housemate for signing a lease with me and then 3weeks later move to another state?

I signed a lease with 3other tenants. We agreed to pay the rent together. One of our housemates decided to move to out of state for 3 weeks after signing the lease. He promised us in writing that he would pay his share of the rent until we could find another housemate and sign a new lease (which the landlord agreed to do). However, since our negligent co-tenant agreed to live in a partition in the living room, we have had great difficulty finding a replacement housemate. He has not payed his portion of the rent this month. Can I immediately sue him for all his rent?

Asked on October 23, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Delaware

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Here is the problem. A partition in the living room is not considered a legal unit and your landlord (probably knowing this) signed an unenforceable contract with this person. The contract for the rest of you is enforceable because I assume you all have bedrooms. This person cannot simply live in the living room as the livable room and therefore, he may be able to get out of this contract without having to pay a dime. You are still obligated to mitigate your damages but keep in mind if push comes to shove, he can simply inform the consumer protection bureau that he essentially agreed to live in the non-habitable portion of the unit and since it is not usually considered a bedroom, he may not be obligated to you for any additional monies. Before you decide to sue, contact your state consumer protection bureau and ask if a person using the living room as a bedroom in your state of Delaware would be legal. I am analogizing this situation to one wherein someone agrees to live in an attic of a home but the attic does not have a certificate of occupancy or in a unit wherein the certificate of occupancy is only for 1 or 2 people to live.


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