Legal Question in Real Estate Law in New Jersey

Two people signed a year lease for an apartment and half way through, one decide

My roommate and I signed a one year lease for an apartment. The lease was really meant for one signature, but we both signed, her name first. Five months into the lease, she decided to move out. She gave me 3 days notice as to her moving and told me she was breaking lease. The lease states that the tenant needs to give 60 days notice for breaking the lease. She will pay the remainder of the month (since she is breaking mid-month) and the following month. Is she responsible for paying the full term if I do not choose to break the lease as well? Or is she at least responsible for more than the month and a half that she agreed to pay? Do I have any legal rights in this case? Or do I just have the choice to either break the lease, find a new roommate, or pay the entire rent myself for the remainder of the lease?

Asked on 2/16/00, 9:47 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Walter LeVine Walter D. LeVine, Esq.
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Re: Two people signed a year lease for an apartment and half way through, one de

You do not indicate who was originally intended to be the primary tenant - you or your roommate?

This is a matter, unfortunately, that could go either way - because you have no separate agreement with your roommate as to what would occur if one of you decided to leave before the lease was over. On one hand, the lease, with two signatures, does not split the responsibility between you - the landlord can collect the entire rent from either of you, even if both signed, since you probably did not sign for only responsibility limited to 1/2 of the rent. This leaves you exposed for the entire rent to the end of the term. On the other hand, there was no formal notice to the landlord by your roomamte, so she could also be responsible if you failed to pay the balance of the rent. The 60-day notice does not create an agreement between both of you, so you can also hold her for her share of the balance of the rent - or at least for a full 60 days from the time she notified you that she was leaving. However, agreements regarding real estate (which includes leases) for a term of 1 year or longer need to be in writing. Since there is no written agreement between you and the roommate, this could also cause a problem. Finally, if you accepted her payment for the month and 1/2, you may be considered to have given her a release for any additional payments.

Sorry there is no black/white answer to this question.

Walter

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2/22/00, 4:19 pm

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