I moved in with 3 other people and signed a lease for a house for 12 months. One roommate paid the entire security deposit and I paid all of my years rent in advance so that my other roommates had time to make the money for rent. There was no contract in place between us roommates regarding the security deposit. My landlord ended up charging us $800 for damages which were reduced to $300 after it was disputed. Now my roommate is blaming me for the $300 in cleaning fees. Am I legally obligated to pay her back when there was no contract in place? Can she take me to small claims court and sue for the money? Aren't all 4 roommates equally responsible in this case regardless? Please advise on what I should do. Thank you.
Unless otherwise specified in the lease, all of the roommates are likely jointly and severally liable for damages to the apartment. This means that the landlord may pursue recovery of damages from one or all of the roommates. If one tenant pays all or most of the damages to the landlord and the other tenants do not, then the paying tenant may be able to pursue the other tenants in small claims to recover some portion of the original damages. In small claims though, the issue will be proving whether there was an agreement among the tenants to equally divide those damages among themselves. Without a written agreement among the tenants in place, proving a breach of that agreement can be very difficult. Consult with an attorney who can review your options with you. Many offer free consultations.
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