My wife lived in an apartment in 2005 or 2006 with 2 other people. She moved out, but did not remove her name from the lease. She received a letter today saying she's being sued for the unpaid rent they must have occurred. What are our options? We currently live in PA, but this occurred in OH.
2 Answers from Attorneys
Options? Your only options are to either pay what they say, negotiate, or to defend the case. To defend, you are going to need an Ohio attorney who handles either Landlord Tenant law or Contracts law, preferrably both.
I would have to agree with Attorney Artim. Your wife needs to consult an Ohio attorney who handles landlord tenant issues to see what options are available. You can try re-posting the question and directing it to Ohio landlord-tenant attorneys first.
I would read the lease to see how your wife signed. Typically, all named parties on the lease are liable joiintly and severally, unless this was a special college lease that only provided liability for a tenant's portion of the rent. This is rare though. If that is the case, then your wife is liable for the whole unpaid rent (so are the other tenants). The landlord can go after all of them or just your wife. If your wife is compelled to pay more than her share or if sued, she can generally join the other roommates and include them in any lawsuit.
The other issue your wife needs to consider is the statute of limitations. I am not licensed in Ohio and cannot advise on the law there for these types of claims, but if the statute of limitations is 6 years, then it may already have expired or it is very close to expiring which would explain the lawsuit.
Since your wife has already been sued, she needs to get up with an attorney NOW. The attorney should practice in the county where the lawsuit is filed.
All of this depends on what is owed. Litigation is costly and sometimes the cheapest thing to do is just pay,. But that decision should only be made after talking to an attorney to see if your wife has any valid defenses, like the statute of limitations.
Generally, there is no right to break a lease and I don't see how your wife could have "removed" her name from the lease unless the landlord would have consented to that. Which gets us back to the actual lease. Unless the lease would have limited your wife's liability to only her share of the rent, then she could not have got her name removed until the lease expired.