I was on the lease with a boyfriend and a co-signer (his relative). I moved out, he stayed. He told me he was paying the rent. Turns out he was not. The landlord sued me, the ex and the co-signer. The co-signer and the ex signed a settlement together in which the ex admitted to a judgment being entered against him and all charges against the co-signer were dismissed (for some reason). Of course, the ex never paid a dime after he signed the settlement and now my old landlord wants to get a judgment against me as well. If he is able to get a judgment against me, he will have two judgments for the same debt. What happens after that? Do both judgments go on our separate credit reports or does the landlord have to pick one judgment to pursue?
If the landlord is able to collect from both judgments until the entire debt is satisfied, how would I know he is not over-collecting? His attorney is extremely disorganized and I do not speak to the other co-tenant, so I would never find out if he started making payments.
Landlord / Tenant Lawyer
Dear New York Tenant:
You may have a way out of this mess if you did not participate in the underlying summary holdover proceeding, or you were not served with the process in that proceeding. The landlord is allowed to look to the tenants to pay the rent. And for the landlord's purposes the more the number of tenants who may be liable the happier the landlord.
There is no way to walk away from the contract with the landlord without risk. But if the judgment the landlord is seeking to collect from you is from the L&T case and you did not participate because you were not served with the notice of petition and petition, then you may have the right to open that case and assert defenses to the judgment made in your absence. Particularly because the judgment was made by the consent of the lease breaching co-tenant.
Consult with an attorney. A judgment creditor cannot double-dip. But New York allows for interest to pile on a judgment at the rate of 9% per year (a good investment for those who buy other person's judgments and wait it out.)
The answer provided to you is in the nature of general information. The general proposition being that you should try to avoid a bad outcome if you can.
Personal Injury Lawyer
I would contact a local landlord/tenant attorney to discuss your defense. Most attorneys offer free consultations.
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Real Estate Attorney
You really should contact a Landlord-Tenant to discuss this matter as soon as possible. It may turn out that since you were named in the non-payment proceeding as a Respondent, the Landlord may already have a judgment that includes you. Since you all signed the lease all three of you are responsible for the full rental amount. You need to make sure there actually is not a judgment against you already or you are going to be very unhappy if the start to enforce the judgment, which can include freezing your bank accounts, putting liens on property you own and etc.