I think this is one of the most difficult scenarios for landlords and tenants.  Two roommates sign a lease together.  Let’s call them Hatfield and McCoy.  Tenants will come up with creative ideas about their liability such as the idea that since Hatfield only uses half of the apartment (pays half the rent etc…) she should not be responsible for the other half.  Next, one tenant stops paying their “half” of the rent.  Once your tenants start getting into the “half” thing you can see where the situation is headed.  Hatfield says that she will only pay her half of the rent because McCoy cannot be found.  It is nice that she is doing the right thing in her mind, but the law regards roommate scenarios as a partnership and that means that both Hatfield and McCoy are liable for the entire rent and the Landlord can collect from Hatfield and McCoy jointly or severally.  Most people understand jointly which is where the Landlord can collect part from one and part from the other.  Severally, as in sever, means that  the landlord can collect the entire amount from any one of them individually (severally) if the other cannot pay.

This is the law even if McCoy decides she can’t stand Hatfield anymore.  They are both still liable on the entire rent.   That partnership concept is a paraphrase from a Judge who I had the pleasure of appearing before because my tenant had skillfully convinced an impartial mediator that she should only be required to pay “half” of the rent.  I told the tenant that if she is only responsible for her half, then that means that the other half is my responsibility and if that’s the case then will she mind if I move an ex-convict into the apartment with her to pay the other half of the rent?  Needless to say, she didn’t appreciate that perspective.

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