Q: In 2020, I lived in a three-bedroom residence with two roommates. All of us signed the lease, however every of us paid parts of the safety deposit on to the owner. We additionally the paid the hire in three separate checks. Through the pandemic, one roommate moved again residence and stopped paying hire, whereas the opposite roommate and I stayed by means of the tip of the lease and paid our parts of the hire on time. After we moved out on the finish of the lease, we left the residence in good situation, however when it got here time to get our safety deposit again, the owner withheld the cash on account of our former roommate. Can the owner do that? What are my authorized choices to recoup my portion of that cash?
A: Whenever you and your roommates signed the lease, all of you assumed duty for the phrases of the settlement, so all of you might be on the hook for something that goes unsuitable. If somebody broken the partitions or painted a room turquoise with out permission, you’ll be liable for the prices, even when you weren’t the offender. The identical goes for unpaid hire: You might be liable for your complete hire, not simply your portion of it. The owner can withhold your safety deposit over any unpaid hire.
“On condition that there was unpaid hire, the owner was utterly inside their rights to withhold your complete safety, and the remaining tenants don’t have any declare for it,” stated Samuel Himmelstein, a Manhattan lawyer who represents tenants.
Your legal responsibility extends past the safety deposit — the three of you continue to owe the owner no matter hire your roommate didn’t pay. The owner might sue you and your two roommates for the remaining unpaid hire, or flip the excellent debt over to a group company, which might come after you for the stability. Hold a watch out for a letter from a group company. If the owner walks away from the loss, take into account your self fortunate.
The state of affairs you described will not be unusual. Many New Yorkers, usually going through job losses, moved out of the town in the course of the pandemic, leaving roommates on the hook. For those who ever end up in an analogous scenario once more, know that the state’s hire legal guidelines can help you discover a new roommate. You don’t want your landlord’s permission or approval to do that — you may merely discover an individual prepared to hire the room, acquire the hire instantly from that individual, and pay it to the owner. This is able to have allowed you to pay hire in full for the remainder of the time period, and acquire your safety deposit on the finish.
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