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Can a landlord hold last months rent if he willfully lets you out of a rental agreement where one party is staying in the house?

Salem, OR |

I rented property with an individual who ended up being mental unstable and yelled at me in front of my children about something which we had a verbal agreement on (witnessed by at least three individuals), and began to make demands on me regarding how things on the property would be carried out. Our landlord stated that he would let one of us out of the lease and sign a new lease with the remaining person, so I gave my 30 day notice. I paid last months rent upfront, and he is now stating that he is going to keep the prorated amount (last day is Dec 12th) if she is unable to cover the rent or find a new roommate. Legally can he hold my funds (if was well known that we split everything equally) because she is unable to pay rent? What if she can't cover January, does that make me liable?

Attorney Answers 1


The landlord can hold any funds that you put down at the start of your lease and use them to cover any money you owe at the end of your lease. This includes amount of the rent for the time you were there. When two or more people sign a lease, unless the lease says otherwise, they are jointly severally liable for the entire amount of the rent, which means that if one person can't pay their share of the rent the LL can go after the other person for the entire amount of the rent. Once your lease has ended though (after the 30 days) you are out of the picture and if your ex-roommate can't cover her rent then the LL can only go after her for it. Hope that's helpful, good luck.

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Thank you Jordon. He extended the offer to allow one of us to leave the lease peacefully, and I took him up on that offer. He accepted my 30 day notice and my last day is December 12th. I paid $800 towards last months rent (shared rent combined is $1600 for the property, 8 acres with a house, a barn and a shop) and $400 towards a cleaning deposit. If at the end of the 31 day time period I do not receive my refunded rent of $490 and whatever portion of the cleaning deposit that he does not use (I always leave my rentals cleaner than when I moved in, this will be no exception), I will be filing in small claims for double the amount as allowed in the Oregon landlord tenant code.

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