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Q: Apartment Leases ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Apartment Leases
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: mikegyver-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 13 Oct 2005 04:59 PDT
Expires: 12 Nov 2005 03:59 PST
Question ID: 579717
My 19-year old son moved to California with 3 of his friends to start
a band.  They rented an apartment for $1600 a month with the idea that
each of them would pay $400.  One of the other boys' parents co-signed
the lease.  The lease was for one-year.  Each of the boys also signed
a lease agreement.  My son has now moved back to Missouri.  What is
his legal obligation to continue paying the $400 he had originally
agreed to now that he is out of the apartment and out of the state.

Clarification of Question by mikegyver-ga on 14 Oct 2005 15:48 PDT
Ok, enough of the lecture on the "right thing to do".  The idea to
move to California was not my son's.  He went as part of the "band". 
The idea to lock in a year lease was not his and especially not for
this expensive an apartment.  He was naive and made a mistake in
signing the contract.  He is currently paying his share of the rent
even though he doesn't live there.  The leader of the band made all
the decisions regarding the lease length and location of the apt.  The
band leader's parents co-signed the lease.  My wife and I refused to
do this when asked.

My question is whether the remaining band members can make a "claim"
against my son if he doesn't pay under the circumstances outlined
above?  Also, can my son find another roomate for these guys to pay
his share without their approval?
Subject: Re: Apartment Leases
Answered By: wonko-ga on 18 Oct 2005 20:36 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Since your son signed the lease, he is most likely "jointly and
severally responsible," along with the other people who signed the
lease.  That means he is liable for paying the lease, up to the entire
rent amount.  If he does not pay, the landlord has the option of
pursuing your son and everyone else who signed the lease for the
underpayment.  This could seriously impair your son's credit rating
and make it very difficult for him to rent an apartment again, get a
car loan, could cause his credit card interest rates to increase,
and/or make other financial transactions more expensive or
unavailable.  The existing roommates can also sue your son for any
rent payments they make on his behalf.

Your son can offer a replacement tenant to the landlord.  Such an
arrangement usually requires the landlord to agree to the replacement.
 While I could not find a reference explicitly addressing the issue of
substitute roommate approval, the UCLA Student Legal Services
reference implies that the existing tenants have veto power.  However,
they are obligated to minimize your son's damages by trying to find a
replacement roommate as soon as possible.  In Illinois, however, the
departing roommate has the legal right to sublet the apartment if the
lease provides for it.

Under the circumstances, your son's best bet is to work with the
landlord and the roommates to find an acceptable replacement tenant
while paying his share of the rent until either a replacement is found
or the lease term ends.  However, the terms of the lease ultimately
govern, so your son should review what he signed so that he can comply
with its terms.  If a significant sum of money is involved, he may
also benefit from consulting with a California lawyer with knowledge
of rental issues.  Please note that depending upon the city in which
the lease was signed and the presence of rent control or other
authorities, your son may have additional or different rights than
those discussed above.



Sources (the UCLA and Nolo references are particularly applicable):


"Before You Sign: Tips for Renters" California Apartment Association

"Lease Issues" Rent Stabilization Board


"Renting a Place With Others" Nolo (2005)

"The Roommate From HELL??" Student Legal Services, University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champagne (1999)

Search terms:  
breaking lease California
breaking apartment lease California
departing roommate sublet right california
sublet apartment without roommate approval
mikegyver-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Good answer.  Thank you.

Subject: Re: Apartment Leases
From: indexturret-ga on 13 Oct 2005 10:03 PDT
If he moved out because the landlord was a slumlord who didn't live up
to his end of the contract, then I wish him good luck in fighting it.
But if it's not the landlord's fault (i.e., the kiddies just stopped
getting along), then the contract should be enforced. Otherwise why
even have contracts in life? The enforcement of valid contracts helps
to separate humans from weasels---and it's not an easy job, what with
all the weasels out there. There could be a valid argument for his
breaking the lease---but that argument must be supplied in order to
arrive at some other answer than "pay up."
Subject: Re: Apartment Leases
From: philnj-ga on 14 Oct 2005 10:12 PDT
Your son signed the lease.  He is responsible for fullfilling its
terms.  He should discuss his situation with the other guys and come
to an agreement about the best way for him to leave.  This agreement
should be written down in a letter to the landlord, signed by all the
boys who signed the lease, and sent.  He can either continue to pay
rent until a replacement tenent is found, or the other guys (now a
trio, I assume) will pay $533.33 each per month.  Or some other

If the lease specifies other procedures for changing tenants, then
thos rule should be followed.

Do you want to teach your son that he can walk away from his obligations?

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