Can My Roommate Sue Me For Failing to Pay My Share of the Rent?

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‘I live in the state of South Carolina. I signed a lease at an apartment complex with another female but have recently fallen on hard times and must move out as I can no longer afford the rent. I have tried to work with the roommate by offering to pay every penny I can, but she refuses to work with me and is threatening to sue me. My question is, if I signed a lease with her with the apartment complex (which does not state anywhere that I pay a certain amount and she pay a certain amount, all it says is we are both on the lease and both responsible for the full amount of rent. I never signed anything with her stating I would pay a certain amount either) can she truly sue me for breaking the lease and no longer paying rent? Or can only the apartment complex possibly sue me? Thank you!’

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Interesting question. As a general rule, co-tenants are each individually liable to the landlord for the full amount of the rent, which means that if the rent isn’t paid either you or your roommate could end up paying the landlord in full (and you both will have a judgment against you for the full amount until it’s paid).

However, if I were her attorney, I would argue that there was an oral agreement between the two of you to each pay half the rent (or whatever split you had), and your habit of paying the rent in previous months
would be evidence of that agreement. If you stop paying your half, you have harmed her because the landlord can now come after her. So yes, I’d say she has a decent shot of suing for this.

Of course, if you don’t have the money to pay the rent, you won’t have the money to pay the judgment, either. So arguably her suing you would be a waste of time. Ideally, both of your efforts would be better
spent finding her a new roommate who can take over your half of the rent.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.