Do I need to pay rent for an apartment I no longer inhabit? I'm not on the lease, but these are friends.
September 26, 2008 10:04 PM   Subscribe

Do I need to pay rent for an apartment I no longer inhabit? I'm not on the lease, but these are friends. Somewhat lengthy discourse to follow...bear with me.

I recently graduated and moved to a new city to start a new job. 3 months into my adventure in 100-hour workweeks, discovery that the job wasn't as-advertised, loneliness, and "this city just isn't me", I caved and asked for a transfer. HR/higher ups, thankfully, have been flexible enough to let me transfer back to my home city. Sweet! The one catch: my lease.

I signed two months ago with some friends from a rather large social group I was involved in during college (and hope to continue to interact with in my new town, where there's a decent-sized group). We aren't terribly close, but I respect them and they've been pretty fair so far in terms of shared costs, etc. Initially, I was set on living on my own but they "really wanted to live together," so I finally broke down and signed a lease that, of all things, prohibits subletting. Terrible idea. I know. But I was optimistic at that point.

Since the first few weeks of my job, I have regularly communicated my anguish and stated that I was seriously considering moving back home, or even quitting. We had discussed the possibility that someone else could move in, but they have very stringent (and I'd venture to say unreasonable) requirements. For example, "I want you to be aware that it may not happen for a few has to be X gender, and someone we craigslist...etc." I (perhaps sneakily - but they didn't read the fine print before signing) found a way to release myself from the lease, so I am not legally obligated to pay them rent. My question is, should I continue to pay nearly $1000 in rent for up to 9 months, while paying rent on my new apartment back home as well? I'm not confident they will find a "suitable" replacement, or even be motivated to try. The living situation is a bit complicated and potentially undesirable to many prospective roommates - we share a 2 bedroom apartment, and I live in a living room partition without my own bathroom. One of my other roommates has said he/she would be fine living in the living room, which would give new roommate his/her own room. I should also mention that I'm leaving and taking/selling all my stuff this weekend and probably won't be back.

Also running through my mind is that they may talk smack about me in our larger social circle. Am I the bad guy here?

Surely the hivemind can help me solve this ethical me, MeFites! How do I proceed? Thanks for any suggestions!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My question is, should I continue to pay nearly $1000 in rent for up to 9 months, while paying rent on my new apartment back home as well?

Not for nine months, but I'd say you have an ethical obligation not to just leave your friends in the lurch. In Ontario where there's no lease, the requirement is that one give sixty days notice to a landlord. So, you tell them you're leaving, and that you will pay the next two months' rent or until they find your replacement, whichever comes first. If they don't find someone within the next two months, it's their problem. For extra good friend and roommate points, and for your own benefit, make an effort yourself to find someone else to replace you.
posted by orange swan at 10:15 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'd tell them "Look, when we moved in here I had a job here, but now I'm being transferred to X city, so obviously living here isn't an option for me any more. I know it sucks for the whole sharing an apartment thing, but it is what it is. I've looked at the lease and found (loophole), but obviously that's not fair to you guys on such little notice, so here's what I'm going to do. While I'm still in town, I'll try and find someone who can move in and take over my share. If I can't find anyone before I leave, I'll pay my share of the rent for two months, which should give you guys some a fair amount of time to find a replacement. In fact, I'll pay the two months even if you find someone else right away, you can use the two free months rent as an incentive for someone to move in if they're on the fence."

What this does is:
- You've pointed out that there's a way you can walk away scot-free if you wanted.
- In the next breath you've stated you're not a dick, and won't do that, because you want to be fair
- You've given a reasonable deadline, and given them decent motivation to get your spot filled, since they know after the 2 months is over, they can't force you to pay.
- You've also given them a good selling point for attracting a replacement, if they're so inclined to sell it as "two months rent free". Most likely, they may instead see it as "we get a replacement, we won't tell the replacement about the free rent, and it's $1000 each for us!"
posted by barc0001 at 2:33 AM on September 27, 2008 [2 favorites]

First of all, what's this magic loophole? Are you really sure you can walk away scot-free? Because you really don't want to mention this unless it's true (as in, tenant law true, not as in, "this should be the case even though I am not a lawyer reading this"). And if these are friends you want to keep, you may not want to mention it at all, since it does come off as an implied threat.

Give them 2 months to find someone. Again, if these really are friends, I don't understand your fear that they are going to be jerks and rob you of $1000 for 9 months by making no effort to find someone--and suggesting they would also comes up as a jerk move that is great potential gossip, which you have stated you want to avoid.

BTW, you didn't mention gender, but if these are women they absolutely have the right to state that they don't want to live with a dude they don't know. But if you were paying $1000/month for a partitioned off living room, either you guys are really bad bargain shoppers OR you live someplace like NYC, SF, etc. where they should have literally dozens of folks to choose from if they do place an ad.
posted by availablelight at 3:53 AM on September 27, 2008

I think that giving them a 2 month window is the move. And how are they going to talk smack about you when you're giving them two months to find a new roommate? That's generous.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:40 AM on September 27, 2008

« Older Separating the men from the boys' bikes on Queen...   |   it burns, it burns! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.