What can I do if my co-renter on the same lease has moved out and refuses to pay the remainder of their share of the rent?

UPDATED: Jan 12, 2013

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What can I do if my co-renter on the same lease has moved out and refuses to pay the remainder of their share of the rent?

Asked on January 12, 2013 under Real Estate Law, New York


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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that a lease is a contract and your roommate is now in breach of it.  Accordingly, you can sue them in small claims court for any amounts the you must pay on their behalf (just be sure to bring all relevant documents and the like with you to prove your case).  Further, you can "mitigate" your damages (lessen what you owe your landlord) by getting another roommate to take their place. 

That having been said, you are still required to cover the full amount of the rent up to and through the epiration of the lease. When you signed it, each of you became legally responsible for it, either collectively or individually; this is known as "joint and several liability". Accordingly, if one tenant does not pay their share of the rent, then it becomes the responsibility of the other tennt(s). 

You should be aware that, if you do go to court and win a judgment against them, you can then place a notation of the judgement on their credit report.  So why don't you inform them of this and see if that motivates them to come up with some money. Otherwise, you can move forward and seize their non-exempt personal property, garnish their wages (which could prove embarrassing with their employer), etc.

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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