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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    6

    Default Moved Out Over a Year Ago, Ex-Roommate is Suing for Rent

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: New York

    Hi all, thanks for looking.

    Here are the facts to my situation:
    In July 2011 my now wife moved out of an apartment she was sharing with someone to move in with me.
    The person she was living with was the original renter of the unit (lease signed in April 2011), my wife signed onto the lease later (May 2011).
    No paper work was done at the time she moved out and the person she was sharing the unit with did not make any request for her to continue to pay rent.
    I received notice yesterday that her ex-room mate, not the landlord, is suing her for rent until April 2012 when the lease ended.

    Here are the "extras" in my situation
    My wife was romantically involved with her room-mate at the time she moved in with me.
    The ex-room mate has since moved back in with his wife.
    My suspicion is that the ex-room mates wife is the driving force behind this legal action.

    My question is basically this:
    if after she moved out and the original tenant (room-mate) resumed paying the full portion of the rent, does he now, a year later, have any legal right to try and get money from her? I could understand that if the landlord was suing her there would definitely be legal obligation because the lease was signed. But since it is her ex-room mate trying to recoup some money that he has already paid I am not as certain on this situation.

    Any input is appreciated,

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    27,847

    Default Re: Moved Out Over a Year Ago, Ex-Room Mate Suing for Rent

    if after she moved out and the original tenant (room-mate) resumed paying the full portion of the rent, does he now, a year later, have any legal right to try and get money from her?
    generally, yes.

    I could understand that if the landlord was suing her there would definitely be legal obligation because the lease was signed.
    actually if the remaining tenant paid the entire rent due, the LL would have no action. All the LL was due was the total amount of rent. They do not care who pays it. There is no "his share" and "her share" when concerned with the rent due the landlord. The only time "your share" and "my share" comes into play is between co-tenants. If the remaining tenant failed to pay the rent, the LL could have actually come after your friend for the entire amount of rent due to the rent being a joint and several debt.

    She is liable for her agreed share of the rent to her co-tenant. The only argument she has is that the co-tenant agreed to release her from any liability for the rent upon moving out. If he did, then she can tell the guy that he released her from any liability. If he didn't, then she continued to be a named tenant with all rights of tenancy and the liability for the rent that goes along with that. Just because she chose to live elsewhere does not in itself release her from liability for the rent in that apartment.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Toledo, OH
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    16,079

    Default Re: Moved Out Over a Year Ago, Ex-Room Mate Suing for Rent

    Here are the "extras" in my situation
    My wife was romantically involved with her room-mate at the time she moved in with me.
    The ex-room mate has since moved back in with his wife.
    My suspicion is that the ex-room mates wife is the driving force behind this legal action.
    All completely irrelevant to the issue at hand. None of this has any bearing on whether or not your wife owes the rent.

    Unless your wife's ex-roommate signed a document releasing her from liability for the remainder of the lease - and it sounds like he did not - your wife is on the hook.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    6

    Default Re: Moved Out Over a Year Ago, Ex-Room Mate Suing for Rent

    Thanks for the fast replies. My next question is how is her liability, or specifically how much she owes, established?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Moved Out Over a Year Ago, Ex-Room Mate Suing for Rent

    If the practice was that each co-tenant would pay half, then that's evidence of the agreement. I expect both roommates would also testify about the agreement as to how rent was to be split.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    6

    Default Re: Moved Out Over a Year Ago, Ex-Room Mate Suing for Rent

    Thanks again for the reply. My next question is can she be held liable for utilities? Also, would she be entitled to her security deposit as the lease was not broken?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Moved Out Over a Year Ago, Ex-Room Mate Suing for Rent

    My next question is can she be held liable for utilities?
    Since she wasn't using them, this is unlikely.

    Also, would she be entitled to her security deposit as the lease was not broken?
    The security deposit may be retained for unpaid rent.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
    I'm training for the MS Society's Bike to the Bay - and blogging about it!

  8. #8
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Moved Out Over a Year Ago, Ex-Room Mate Suing for Rent

    Quote Quoting LawResearcherMissy
    View Post

    The security deposit may be retained for unpaid rent.
    from what has been stated, the rent has been paid. OP is actually a co-lessee so I presume the deposit spoken of is one paid to the LL. As such, unless there is some other reason for the LL to retain the deposit, OP should get their deposit back. Co-tenant cannot claim such a deposit for rent.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    6

    Default Re: Moved Out Over a Year Ago, Ex-Room Mate Suing for Rent

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    View Post
    If the practice was that each co-tenant would pay half, then that's evidence of the agreement. I expect both roommates would also testify about the agreement as to how rent was to be split.
    How would this matter be resolved in court if the two roommates had differing accounts of what the rental agreement was and there was no documentation to support either claim?

  10. #10
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Moved Out Over a Year Ago, Ex-Room Mate Suing for Rent

    first, the plaintiff is charged with proving their case with at least a preponderance of the evidence (more than 50% in their favor). If this is in small claims court, the judge can utilize their perceived veracity of the parties to make a determination. Obviously if there are opposing stories somebody is lying. The judge has the right to determine who is lying even without solid evidence of that fact.

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