Wed 12 Jan, 2005 11:56 am
I got a question about apartment lease agreements. Here is the story.
We are 3 room mates living together in a 3 bedroom apartment (Post Woods, Atlanta , GA). About 3 weeks ago I got an internship offer from Qualcomm and had to move to San Diego. Everything was just fine until this point. Since our lease terminates on May 31, 2005 and it takes a lot of time and money to break the lease early we decided to find replacement for me.
The problem is, all three of us have to agree about the replacement and one of my old room mates does not accept anyone - and I mean anyone. The last guy he rejected was an engineer who had agreed to pay 4 months' rent in advance! He knows that I will be paying for the empty bedroom and I was told that he had already invited a friend to stay as a guest in that room.
The lease agreement can not be broken if that jerk agrees - which he does. Also, I can not rent the bedroom to a replacement room mate because he simply would not accept anyone. I don't want to pay for an empty bedroom which I can not utilize in any way until May 31, 2005!
Finally my question is: Can I just stop paying the rent? Would it be wise to do so or is there a better way to solve a problem like this? If I stop paying and this thing goes to court I will be called to Atlanta to appear in court and this would screw my internship. I don't want this to happen so any advice is very welcome.
I'm not a lawyer, but I can see the value of settling domestic details before leaving town.
Could your room mate be making difficulties about a new partner because he wants to use the spare bedroom for his guest?
My opinion is if he's using the room, he should be paying for the room.
What does the third roommate say?
Yes, you are correct: he wants to use the spare room.
The 3rd room mate accepted -all- the guys I have found previously.
But that jerk would not agree on anything. Right now I am in San Diego and all I can do this making phone calls to the apartment complex's manager and new room mate candidates, but I am quite sure that soon I will not able find candidate replacements easily.
jack_daniels: If you signed the lease, then you are responsible for paying rent. If you fail to pay, then your landlord can go after you or your roommates to make up the deficiency.
Ask your landlord to install a lock on your bedroom door (or, alternatively, ask if you can place a lock on the door yourself). If you can't use the room, there's no reason why anyone else should either. Once you have the lock in place -- or even when you make the threat to place a lock on the door -- your recalcitrant roommate might want to reconsider his opposition.
This exact situation got me in trouble in college. DO NOT make phone calls. Verbal agreements mean crap in court. Write letters to your landlord. DO NOT stop paying your rent. Your name is on that lease and should your roommates decide not to pick up your rent, you are the one who's getting screwed.
I would write a letter to your landlord explaining the situation and asking that he/she release you from the contract because your roommate refuses to comply. If this is not an option, suggest the landlord pick someone for you. I don't know what the laws are in your state but google tenant rights and see if you can find anything on your rights if you break the contract. In michigan, the landlord must find someone to fill your space within a reasonable amount of time and cannot stick you with the rest of the rent.
Either way, get it all in writing. Wish you luck! This sucks...I know.
I am also not a lawyer (and depending on how much it is worth to you, you may want to pay for a consultation).
But in my experience, you should sue, sue first and sue fast.
If the roommate has already offered your room to someone else, and is blocking any agreement for that reason-- he or she is causing you real monetary damages. The fact that this action is malicious is all to more reason.
Filing a claim in small claims court is easy. In my state (Massachusetts) there is a nominal filing fee and you can make claims to some limit (I think it is $3500 dollars?).
You should sue for your roommate to pay for your rent for six months. One of three things will happen.
1. (Hopefully) your roommate will see the problem from a new light and will fix the problem ("i.e. settle").
2. You will win the case and your roommate will be responsible for your rent.
3. You will sort of win the case, and the judge will tell your roommate to shape up (or offer a smaller monetary judgement).
4. You will lose and be out the nominal filing fee. (I think this is unlikely).
This suit is a perfectly justifiable use of the courts as you are being damaged. Small claims court is the perfect place to resolve this problem.
I would file the case right away.
The apartment complex belongs to Post Properties. They are quite famous for being helpful about such issues, but this is not the case for me.
I have asked the manager what they can do. Her answer is very simple: nothing. All she says is that: to break the lease OR to rent the room to a replacement I must have the approval of all room mates.
Putting a lock to the door is indeed a good idea. I will ask them to do that for me.
Other than that it seems like I will be paying for an empty room for the next 4 months.
Thanks for the advice ebrown_p. If I was still in Atlanta, this would be the way to go.
But the problem is I don't want to go back to Atlanta to appear in court. My project leader would screw me real bad if I did such a thing. I could even loose my internship.