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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 30393
Experience:  Attorney
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I'm renting a house in San Francisco on a monthly lease with

Customer Question

I'm renting a house in San Francisco on a monthly lease with 3 other dental students. We will need to live in SF for at least one year because of our school. I want to avoid a situation where one person suddenly leaves because of whatever reason, raising the rent for the 3 other people. Can I make some kind of agreement that says something to the effect of
"If one person continues this monthly lease for next month, the other 3 also need to continue. This is true for one year (thus making it an informal year long lease). If you want to leave, you need to find a new person that will pay the same price rent (+ any additional 1% or 2% increase the landlord decides to do-if she does) you were paying until 1 year after the first monthly lease was signed. Legal fees needed to claim any unpaid funds will be paid by the person who decides to not renew their lease within this 1 year period."
If such a contract is possible, does it need to be notarized or can a video or email saying "I agree" be sufficient?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. Yes, such a contract is possible. It wouldn't be binding if the landlord decided to terminate your lease and kick you all out (assuming he had a legal reason for doing so), but it would give you a binding one year agreement among roommates. You don't have any ability to make your roommates sign it, but there's nothing in the law that prevents you from trying. You should be aware, however, that under California law, attorney's fees agreements in a contract are always reciprocal - meaning that if someone winds up moving out, and you sue them and lose, you could be ordered to pay their legal fees. Cal. Civ. Code, Section 1717. That's probably not a big deal since you'd only be suing if someone moved out without finding you a new roommate, but it's still something to be aware of. Also consider whether to include a clause making the original roommate responsible if the new roommate moves out before the end of the one-year period. Having an agreement notarized means that the other parties can't come back later and say "I never signed that." If all four of you sign together, then you have witnesses and don't necessarily need that, but it works as added insurance. A video would provide the same protection - more, because the judge could see if the other person were signing under duress. However, the person would have to be signing the contract on the video, not just stating agreement. Email is generally good evidence, but it can be faked, so it's not as strong as a signature on the contract itself. 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.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Did you need any more help with this?