Ask a Landlord-Tenant Question, Get an Answer ASAP!
I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.
As far as the landlord is concerned, when your daughter signed onto the lease with everyone else, she agreed to be jointly and severally liable for any damages. That means the landlord has a right to sue any one of them - or all three - to collect if the place needs repairs that aren't covered by a security deposit. Because the landlord has a signed contract, they don't have to make any efforts to determine who caused specific damage. She could try to negotiate with the landlord or prove that the damages were done either before she moved in or after she moved out, but the landlord doesn't have to agree not to sue her.
If your daughter does wind up getting sued, she can go after her roommates for their fair share of the damages paid. The fact that the landlord is allowed to sue her doesn't prevent her from going after the party who is actually responsible. Or if she's worried that the landlord will refer her to collections, she can pay and then sue her roommates. She'll have the burden of proving that they were the ones who caused the damage.
If you have any questions or concerns about my response, please reply WITHOUT RATING. It's important that you are 100% satisfied with my courtesy and professionalism. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so I am paid for the time I spend answering questions. If you are on a mobile device, you may need to scroll to the right. There is no charge for follow-up questions. Thank you.
If she files in Small Claims and they don't respond, she automatically wins. The beauty of the American system is that anyone can sue anyone else, with or without the other party's consent.
Collecting a judgment in Texas can be difficult. That is something your daughter should be aware of. It's possible that the landlord is asking her for money because she seems like the most likely to pay. She isn't guaranteed to get the money even if she gets a judgment. She can choose to force the landlord to sue her - but she also needs to know that it could destroy her credit if she does that. An unpaid judgment stays on a person's record UNTIL it's paid, then for another 7 years. That could affect getting a house later, and even make it tough to get certain types of jobs.