We signed a year’s lease on a rental unit for our college-bound son, with the understanding that his roommates would pay their share of the rent. One roommate left without paying his third of the rent. The landlord has filed eviction papers and we are expected to pay the unpaid rent. How can we get out of this lease?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Read the lease and see if there is a provision for terminating the lease on 30 days notice and paying extra months’ rent or some other amount of money to break the lease early. If not, you are liable for the entire rent for the rest of the lease. If you want your son to stay, you should pay the “demand amount” in the eviction papers to the court immediately. This will stop the eviction, but you’ll still have to pay the entire rent for the rest of the lease. You can sue the roommate and his parents if they cosigned for contribution (his share of the rent/utilities). Unless his parents cosigned though, good luck collecting your judgment. If you just want out, let the eviction proceed and move your son out. You’ll have to pay the back rent, costs, and attorney fees. You’ll also have to pay the rent until the landlord can find a new tenant. You can slow the eviction down by demanding a fact-finding hearing challenging the amount you owe or raising some defenses. Check your son’s state residential landlord tenant act for details.

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