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Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 35319
Experience:  16 yrs practice, Civil, Criminal, Domestic, Realtor, Landlord 26 yrs
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If two people sign a year leasing contract for an apartment.

Customer Question

Hi
JA: Hello. What seems to be the problem?
Customer: If two people sign a year leasing contract for an apartment. In less than 6 months from signing the contract, one of the people chooses to leave without taking responsibility. The monthly rent is $885 plus rental insurance. The other tenant who also signed the contract is unable to pay that amount by herself. What can the other person who is left do?
JA: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state the property is in?
Customer: Pennsylvania
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: No, I am just trying to figure out what I can do about it since I know I won't be able to pay the rent by myself.
JA: I'm not sure of the exact price, but there's only a $5 deposit. The rest of the price information will be on the page I send you to.
Customer: To find out what I can do?
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No, I think that's all
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Barrister replied 6 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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What can the other person who is left do?

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When both people signed the lease, they are both entirely liable for the full rent under the legal doctrine of "joint and several liability". That means that the landlord can come after one or both of them for the full rent.

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However if they had an agreement between themselves to split the rent, then the remaining tenant can sue the leaving tenant for breach of contract for half the rent until they find a new roommate.

Expert:  Barrister replied 6 months ago.

You can sue the leaving roommate each month for their share or wait and sue them for the entire amount they owe once you find a new roommate to take their place.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I had contacted the leasing office and they said we signed the lease so we're responsible for it (including our co-signer). The person is just leaving without finding someone to replace them or paying their part.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
They also said they do not get into roommates issues so we have to figure it out by ourselves.
Expert:  Barrister replied 6 months ago.

Yes, that is unfortunately legally true.. You are on the hook for the whole rent whether the other roommate pays or not. The landlord doesn't care about any tenant problems between themselves, they just want the rent in full each month. So if the person leaving won't pay their share or find a sublessor to take their place, you are stuck with paying the rent yourself, finding a new roommate, and suing the roommate for their half. If you cant' pay the rent, then the landlord can legally evict you through the courts because you didn't sign a lease to pay half the rent, you are responsible for the entire rent, same as the roommate. Any division of the rent is a private agreement between you and the other person..

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But if they are employed and aren't leaving town, you can sue them and then garnish their wages to get their half of the rent until you find a new roommate.

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I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience, even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy...

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Does that mean if they are leaving town even though they are employed I can't do anything about it? I can't sue or anyting?
Expert:  Barrister replied 6 months ago.

You have to be able to serve them personally with a summons and complaint to force them to come to court and defend. So if you can't find them, then unfortunately you can't sue them. So if you know where they are right now and they owe rent, you can immediately file suit against them.

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Then if their employer is local, you can garnish their paycheck to get the money if they don't voluntarily pay you.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
The person is currently here but she's leaving at the end of the month (because she wants to stay for the full month since she had already paid the september rent). But the next rent is due on the 1st. She doesn't exactly date when she's leaving, but she just said the end of the month.
Expert:  Barrister replied 6 months ago.

Ok... you can't sue her before the rent is actually due because technically she isn't in breach of your agreement yet. So you are in kind of a tough position because the sooner you try to get a new roommate, the less likely you will be on the hook for more rent or face possible eviction if you can't pay the entire rent.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I understand but then again you said I have to be able to find the person to summon the complaint. What am I supposed to do when she leaves. I mean it's a short period of time to find a roommate, especially in a university area. Every student has already find place to stay since school started a month ago.
Expert:  Barrister replied 6 months ago.

I hate to say it, but you are in a tough position and there really aren't a lot of options for you. I wish I could tell you that you can sue her now, but you can't, or that you could force her to stay and honor the lease, but you can't. The only thing that you can do is try and track her down when she leaves and breaches the contract and then sue her for your damages.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Thank you,
Expert:  Barrister replied 6 months ago.

You are very welcome. Glad to help any time, even though the news is kind of lousy..

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Barrister

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