I told my landlord that I will only be living in the apartment for half a school year because of my early graduation. I told him that my girlfriend would be taking over the other half of the school year, and he was onboard with that. The contract states that she will take over my contractual obligations at some point during the term of the contract. All three housemates including myself signed the contract. However, my girlfriend never signed the lease. Her name is listed but there is no signature. She decided to transfer schools and will not be living in the apartment.

The landlord is now saying that I am legally obligated to pay for the rest of the lease, and she is off the hook since she did not sign. He said he will be taking me to court to have the judge decide. Am I legally obligated to come up with the rest of the payments?

  • What country is this in, and if in the US what state? It will make a significant difference. Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 0:48

2 Answers 2


You may be liable, depending on the exact provisions of the lease which you signed. However, in most US states, a landlord is required to use the best possible efforts to mitigate damages by re-renting the apartment, and you would be liable only for the difference, if any, between the rent under the lease you signed, and the amount which the landlord is able to collect from a new tenant. You can also seek out a substitute tenant. The landlord does not get to have double rent from you and from a new tenant. The precise rules, and the procedure by which they are enforced, will vary depending on the location (country, state, and in some cases city).

  • This is a great and complete answer. I'd only suggest that OP definitely should seek out a new tenant (that the existing roommates accept) ASAP, because that's the quickest way to avoid having to pay a dime or go to court. Also OP, if there is a clause in the lease that speaks about "joint and several liability," any or all of your roommates could be on the hook for any amount or all of that rent (eg, if you're broke and your roommate isn't, landlord's still getting paid). As always, may vary by jurisdiction.
    – A.fm.
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 20:13

I will assume that your jurisdiction is somewhere in the US, although this aspect of contract law is common in many other countries (Canada, Netherlands, Spain, South Africa, etc).

Am I legally obligated to come up with the rest of the payments?

Yes, unless you are able to prove that your girlfriend agreed to take over and that the only way to avoid an injustice consists of compelling her to comply with that agreement. Your inquiry provides no information from which to identify other possibilities whereby you --instead of your girlfriend-- would be "off the hook".

The references to your girlfriend in the contract fall short of proving that she knowingly and willfully agreed to take over your contractual obligations. Knowing and willful acceptance is essential in contracts. Absent proof of that acceptance, you remain responsible for the period you envisioned your girlfriend would take over.

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