Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in California

My husband and I moved to California from Wisconsin with roommates and were sharing rent. They decided to leave after just 3 months and went back to Wisconsin leaving us with an apartment we couldn't afford on our own so we had to all break the lease. Before they left, they said since they were the reason we had to break the lease they were going to be nice and pay the fee for doing so. We had them sign a homemade contract stating that they would pay it and they set up payment plans but once they got to Wisconsin they never paid the payments and they wouldn't let us know what was going on. Now its been sent to a lawfirm and its going to go into collections and they are still refusing to pay anything. Is there anything we could do to just get them to pay the fee since they signed a contract? Or is it useless since it was homemade? Is there anything we can do so we don't get stuck paying all of it ourselves? (And we have absolutely no money.) Thank you for any advice!!

Asked on 6/23/10, 11:10 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

It's good news/bad news. Your contract is probably enforceable, as is a right to reimbursement even without a contract under a legal rule called "indemnity." The trouble is, it sounds like you are going to have to sue them to collect. The good news is that it sounds like you have the right to do it in California, rather than having to sue them in Wisconsin. The bad news is you still have to locate them and have them served with a summons and complaint in Wisconsin. The good news is that they may well default once you get them served, and you can get a judgment against them. The bad news is that you will then have to collect it from them in Wisconsin.

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Answered on 6/24/10, 8:11 am

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