When multiple people agree to rent a home or unit at the same time, they often will put all their names on a lease. When relationships are good, and everyone is in agreement with each other, this shouldn’t cause a problem. But if a relationship sours during the term of the lease, problems may occur if a person wants to move out of the rental unit.
Legally, anyone who signs a lease – no matter how many people are named – will be held responsible for payment of rent for the entire duration of the lease. Which means the landlord can take legal action against all persons named if rental payments are delinquent. In delinquency situations, landlords can also make negative reports for each person’s rental history and credit report.
If one individual wants to move out prior to the lease term ending, he or she can try to strike an agreement with the roommate(s), asking for a signed agreement to release him or her from a share of the rent. Tenants can also ask the landlord to remove them from the lease agreement, but landlords have little reason to want to take this action. If the roommate(s) and the landlord choose not to sign any agreements with the individual moving out, the individual will still be responsible for a portion of the rent through the end of the lease, and could be held liable if the other roommates fall behind on payments.
Roommate situations where there is just one name on the lease are a little different. In this situation, the person named on the lease should set up a separate written agreement with any roommates stating in writing who will pay what on a monthly basis. Then, if a problem occurs, it is only between the roommates, and the landlord is not involved, which means it won’t appear on anyone’s rental history report.