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Roger, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 31769
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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My roommate and I are in our own separate leases that tie us

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My roommate and I are in our own separate leases that tie us together through 8/31,and she has signed a lease elsewhere for April 1.She initially said she was moving 3/1,after I was terse with her for leaving cat feces on the floor for 4 days.I tried to find a replacement for her but she changed her move date and the replacement couldn't wait.Due to the worsening air quality and cleanliness in the apartment due to her lack of care of her cat,I could not stay there any longer so rented a room.I told her that I would not pay her for utilities because I wasn't living there,and would pay her for the December's utilities when the place was rented and my security returned.I have tried to rent the place 3 times but no one wants it because of the smell.The roommate is threatening to sue me for 3 months utilities and security deposit,citing that she can't rent the place becasue my bedroom is locked.She also has not given notice to our landlord, so could stay until 4/1. Can she sue me? Or I, her
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Roger replied 7 years ago.
Are there any contracts between the two of you?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
No. Just the separate leases that we each signed with the landlord stating shared space, and that the person who is left after one vacates becomes responsible for the full rent. We do not have any contracts between just the two of us. There are a lot of emails back and forth, but no contracts.
Expert:  Roger replied 7 years ago.

You are both obligated to the landlord for your share of the rent and the utilities are ultimately up to whomever's name is ***** ***** account. If there is no agreement between the two of you stating that each of you agree to pay the utilities in equal shares, etc., whoever lives there has to pay the bills or the things will get cut off. She can't sue you for 1/2 of the utilities if there's no contract obligating you to pay.

If any of the utilities are in your name, you would be obligated to pay, but you would also have the right to cut off all of the utilities and allow her to transfer them into her name.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

The landlord has agreed not to sue me, btu the roommate is stating that she will sue me for her security deposit, on top of the utilities, citing that she can't show the apartment due to my room being locked. I am also concerned that she will stay through 3/31, and then add 1/2 of March's rent to the tab, even though we both agreed to vacate by 3/1. Again, I am not living there but do have things in the bedroom as I am paying the rent through february (gave the landlord my word on this). Also, there are emails between us regarding my paying 1/2 of the utilities through December. Until I stopped staying there, she said that I only had to pay December's utilities, and that I have in writing as well. Does she have a case, and can I countersue for the unlivable conditions in the apartment and losing my security?

Expert:  Roger replied 7 years ago.

If you have two separate leases, your security deposits should be equally separate. If the deposit is being taken for things she did, you should ask the landlord to take from her and return your money.

As long as you're paying rent, you can leave your door locked. She can't sue you for this. She has no damages - you're paying the rent. If you weren't paying rent and had it locked, that would be a different story.

Also, she can't sue you for the utilities if there is no written agreement between the two of you that you'll pay them.

It is possible that you could sue for her causing you to move because of the cat problem, odor, etc. However, a judge would likely say that you should have gone to the landlord to fix the problem, and if the landlord would not, you would have grounds to cancel the lease or sue the landlord for the costs associated with your move.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I have gone to the landlord and they say that they won't get involved between roommates. They are fully aware of how bad it is, but say that I can't have my security back under any circumstances because I am breaking thier lease. They also say that they won't sue me for the remainder of the lease.

If she elects to stay until 4/1, which is one month past when I will be paying rent, can she sue me for 1/2 of March's rent due to it stating in the lease that she becomes responsible for the full rent if I vacate? I have emails that show that she signed a lease first and that I woudl be leaving March 1st.

Expert:  Roger replied 7 years ago.

Ok. If the money is being kept for breaking the lease, they're right. So long as it is not for damages caused by her.

If you have separate leases, she's only responsible for her part of the rent, not yours. If the landlord is going to keep your deposit and let you out of the rest of the contract, that should be the end of it. Your roommate should not be held responsible for your part of the rent - that's not in her lease!

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

But it is in her lease, and mine. It states that if one party vacates then the remaining party becomes responsible for the full amount of the rent.

Even though she told me in email that she would be out on 2/27, I don't put it past her to stay until 4/1 when her new lease begins. If she does this, am I responsible for the rent for the month of March?

Expert:  Roger replied 7 years ago.

Ok, if that's the case, your leases are really not separate. However, the terms are if one moves out, the other is 100% responsible for the rent. That doesn't give her the right to sue you for your portion of the rent. Only the landlord has that right. If you move out (or if she did), and the entire rent isn't paid, he's going to evict her. She can't sue you because you have no contract with one another.

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