Signing a lease to a brand new home or apartment can be an exciting time. But when you have more than one person on the lease, it can get complicated if one occupant decides to leave before the lease is up.
The Liability of the Roommates
When more than two people sign a lease, they are jointly responsible for covering the cost of the entire rent and fulfilling the terms. The landlord is allowed to ask for the total amount of rent from any of the roommates, and each roommate must keep the promises in the lease. A complicated situation arises when all the roommates have signed a lease and one of them wants to move out before the agreement ends. The best case scenario for this situation is when the roommate who is planning to move out finds a replacement to take over their lease. Sometimes though, a roommate will simply leave, putting the other parties involved in an unfortunate situation to cover the rent on their own while finding a new roommate to eventually split the cost.
These situations are why it is important to properly vet your prospective roommates before signing a lease with them. Some people are fortunate enough to share an apartment with friends. But even then, familiarity does not guarantee reliability; even friends can come up short on the bills. Nobody is perfect and things in life happen that prevent people from paying their share of the rent. These situations becoming a regular occurrence is where the problems arise. It becomes even more difficult when the roommate you’re relying on to help pay the bills decides to leave before the lease expires.
When the Remaining Tenants Are Left Abandoned
If an unexpected departure occurs, the landlord is able to end the entire tenancy all together. This is mainly due to the fact that the lease agreement has been broken by having one person leave. However, most landlords are willing to provide reasonable accommodation and allow the other occupants to stay if they promise to pay rent. They may even adjust the price of the rent to reflect all the roommates currently occupying it. The worst case scenario would be the landlord not accommodating the current living situation. They could decide to remove you from the property altogether under the pretense that you cannot pay the full amount of the rent on your own income.
Remaining Tenants Decide to Leave Willingly
Should there come a time when tenants decide to leave a property, it is possible to set up an agreement with the landlord to leave. This is usually done when the percentage of the tenant’s paycheck does not meet the needs of the rent cost. Rather than the landlord evicting the tenant for not being able to pay rent, they can just both meet in the middle and have the tenants move out. Usually it would consist of including everything in writing along with the move out date. This route is a more civil solution and should not affect the original signer’s credit score. If you are someone in this situation, speak with your landlord about the best way to move forward.
Getting Out of a Lease Prior to Moving In
Sometimes tenants are under the impression that they can get out of a lease prior to moving in. Some misconceptions include a “3 day right to resign” period or that because they didn’t move in they are able to back out. Neither of these are correct and it is important for anyone who is in the process of signing a lease to be mindful of the fact that this is a binding agreement. Therefore, the moment you include your signature at the bottom of the document, you are legally obligated to pay the monthly rent in the installment that was agreed upon. Some things to consider and be mindful of is that whenever you are interested in a new property, make sure to see it in person if possible. If that is not possible, ask for a virtual tour of the property. In unlikely instances, a tenant will sign a lease to a rental property only to find out that the condition the unit is in is not great. Still, because the lease was signed there is unfortunately not a way to break that lease unless the contract allows you to find the replacement tenant to take over your spot.