I signed a lease in my brothers name for 11 months. After the lease ended he went on a month to month contract with the complex. No one renewed the lease. Well he was arrested and had to return to Alabama for his probation. So he moved out of the apartment. Well I received a letter in the mail saying that I owe over two thousand dollars because he broke the lease and it was in my name. How can this be? Can they renew the lease without me signing it? Do I have to pay them? They are threatening to send it to the credit bureau. How can I fight this? What should I do?
1 Answer from Attorneys
The answer will depend on the terms of the lease. Many leases have terms which govern the relationship between the parties even after the lease terminates, if the tenant continues to occupy the property on a month to month basis. One of the most common terms in leases is a requirement that a certain number of days written notice be given before a lease is lawfully terminated. Although generally month to month tenancies require only 30 days written notice (and the notice is almost always required to be written) many leases are now requiring 60 days notice. If notice is not given, it is treated as a breach of lease and there is often a provision allowing the landlord to collect a re-letting fee. Any damages to the property or costs incurred in cleaning the apartment or disposing of items left behind may also be charged. If you signed the lease, you are responsible for all lawful charges and, yes, they may put it on your credit report. It is more likely that they will turn it over to a collection agency and it is the collection agency who will put it on your credit report. I recommend obtaining a statement of the charges from the landlord and examining it to see if the charges are valid and a copy of the lease if you do not have it. You might also want to check to see when the apartment was re-let to a new tenant. The landlord cannot continue to charge you for rent during a period when there is a new tenant in the apartment.