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Can I sue my roommate for breaking the lease?

Portland, OR |

Last August, my two roommates and I signed a year-long lease that would turn into a month-to-month after a year.

However, one of them moved out in April and broke lease. She didn't give notice to anyone, not even the landlord. She didn't provide another person to take over her lease, either.

Are my current roommate and I able to sue her for breaking lease?

Attorney Answers 2


Yes you both can sue her for contribution.

That is basically how its done.

An action for contribution works akin to a contract action.

1. There is a contract.
2. The parties are jointly and severally liable on contract K.
3. Each party owes contribution under contract K to the full amount of the lease payment per month.
4. Parties A and B paid, and party C didn't pay.
5. Parties A and B are owed contribution, equally for what C didn't pay up through termination of lease before it becomes a month-to-month.
6. Damages are $X to A and B jointly or A so much and B so much.

After lease termination, the month-to-month is A and B's sole responsibility as either A, B or C could walk away at the end of lease.

This is a public forum. Any questions or answers published here should not be construed as the giving or receiving of legal advice or the formation of any attorney-client relationship. You should consult with a competent attorney in the jurisdiction where your legal issues are pending and get good, solid legal advice. This being a public forum, those answers you do read are merely given for informational purposes only.

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Yes, if she broke the lease she may be liable for the damages. Is there a provision in the lease about penalties for breaking the lease? If not, she should be on the hook to both of you for her share of the rent (and any damages she may have caused) for the balance of the lease term BUT only if you have used reasonable and continuing efforts to bring a new roommate in but have been unable to do so. If you do not try to minimize your damages, it will likely be found to be your loss and not hers. Good luck.

Greg Abbott
Consumer Law Northwest
6635 N. Baltimore, #254
Portland, OR 97203
"Practicing Landlord-Tenant Law in Oregon for Over 20 Years"

Nothing contained herein should be considered as legal advice for any specific situation and nothing herein is intended to create a lawyer-client relationship. Every case is very "fact-specific" and persons wishing legal advice on a specific matter should contact me or another attorney for an appointment to review their particular circumstances and to create a lawyer-client relationship. Gregory L. Abbott, Attorney at Law, 6635 North Baltimore, Suite 254, Portland, Oregon 97203. Tel: 503-283-4568; Fax: 503-283-4586; Email: Specializing in Consumer and Small Business Law.

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