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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009

    Default Involuntary Early Lease Termination by Roommate (Private Lease)

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

    I signed a private 5 month lease with a person in August. At the time I wasn't aware and did not check to see if a private lease without the consent of the actual apartment property was legal or allowed. The private lease I signed called for first and last month rent plus a deposit, which I paid in full.

    The person (roommate) I signed the lease with has an official lease with the property that ends in December. Something strange happened last week, when I see my roommate moving massive amounts of her stuff out, including furnitures, suitcases of cloth, etc. She told me that she is upgrading furniture, and I chose to believe her at that point. However, I received a notice at the door yesterday from the property management, stating that they received her notice to move out early and thus terminating her lease with the property early (for end of September). I was shocked that I was not told this by my roommate.

    I was then contacted by her without telling me the real situation, and she told me to move out by end of the month. I guess I am fine with moving out by end of the month, so I asked her for my last month rent back, since I already paid for September, and her request for me to move out makes September the last month. However, she refuses and told me that she will return the extra rent and deposit after I completely move out of the apartment (according to her, to make sure I move out and don't stay any extra days). Since we had that argument regarding the last month rent, she is not taking calls, and has not been home in the past week.

    Having gone through the situation, I have the following questions...

    - Is she legally allowed to keep my rent for that long if the rent is no longer applicable for our situation? I understand the purpose of the deposit, but I don't believe she should keep my rent.

    - I can no longer trust her, so how can I make sure I will get my rent and deposit back after I move, if that's the route we end up choosing?

    - Relating to the last question. If I wait until I move out for her to return my extra rent and deposit, what actions can I take if she moves out of state or out of the country? (I don't believe she is a citizen or permanent resident...)

    - I have thought about going to the actual property management and reporting the situation. Since she might not be legally allowed to sublease to me, can the property evict me immediately along with her? I would have done that already but I did not want to be evicted without a place to live, as well as without the money the roommate still owes me... She also did not pay September's rent on time (as stated on the notice at the door), so obviously she did not use the rent I gave her to pay rent for the apartment. She since told me she called property management regarding that issue but I don't know if it's resolved...

    - If I want to stay at the current apartment until December like the lease states, what actions can I take to make her honor the private lease we both signed? Would I be forced to take over her lease with the property?

    thanks so much

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Involuntary Early Lease Termination by Roommate (Private Lease)

    You are free to sue her in small claims court for the return of your deposit, as well as damages you incur as a result of having to move before the end of your lease (e.g., the cost of moving, increased rent at the new, comparable location for the duration of your lease term). If she moves, that will make it more difficult to sue her and to collect your money.

    You have told us that you're her tenant, not her landlord's tenant, so if you try to stay past the end of her lease you can expect to be evicted as a holdover tenant or trespasser. You can talk to her landlord about commencing a new lease agreement for the same apartment.

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