Get off the lease
March 28, 2007 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend. She's on a lease with an ex-boyfriend who is threatening to not give notice and allow the month by month tenancy to kick in. Can she get off the lease?

She's on a lease with an ex-boyfriend and no longer living at the property but he is. She's under the impression that when the lease expires, if he chooses to keep the apartment that she'll still be liable and can't do anything to get out of the obligation if he doesn't move out. I can't imagine this being the law. This is Texas.

What can she do to make sure she's no longer on the hook if the ex doesn't give notice and the contractual month by month periodic tenancy starts? Have a cite for this kinda thing? (Whether on the net or a law cite would work.)

Also if one of them entered the armed services, does that invalidate the entire contract or just take that one person off the lease?
posted by Annon E Moose to Law & Government (16 answers total)
I can't imagine why she would have to remain on it. She signed to get on it in the first place, correct? So when it expires, won't she have to sign to renew it? No signature = no contract.

For good measure, call the landlord or leasing company and inform them of her intent to not renew the lease when it expires. Then send them the intent in writing and keep a copy for her own records. Certified mail, even, if she wants to be very careful about it.
posted by schroedinger at 11:25 AM on March 28, 2007

If she never gave notice of her departure to the lessor, then yes, she's still liable, but I'm not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. ;)

Had she done so, the lessor would likely have been happy to remove her name from the lease and continue the contract with the ex-boyfriend, unless they wouldn't have leased to him alone in the first place.
posted by wierdo at 11:27 AM on March 28, 2007

Response by poster: Schroedinger- It's in the lease that if they don't give notice it switches to periodic tenancy, so there is a contract.

Wierdo- Would a landlord take her off just like that? Wouldn't they want to keep her on the hook? Doesn't seem like there would be any reason not to.
posted by Annon E Moose at 11:29 AM on March 28, 2007

Doesn't seem like there would be any reason not to.

Only if the landlord was a monster. I personally wouldn't want to leave her financially tethered to this guy just to hedge my bets a little. It's always worth giving the landlord a call.
posted by jon_kill at 11:32 AM on March 28, 2007

Also, as far as what shroedinger said, all my leases have specifically stated that in the event of expiration of the lease, the contract would continue as-is on a month to month basis unless one of the parties (the lessor or the lessee(s)) gave 30 days notice of a change in said contract. The lease in question may be different.

That means that if I had moved out, and did nothing, I would still be on the hook for rent, as the contract was still in force, just with a different term.

As schroedinger wrote, notice to the lessor is key here.

On preview: Most landlords I've dealt with only care that they're going to get their money. If they think they'll get their money either way, they don't have a problem adding or removing people from the lease in the middle of it, but I've always lived in places that specifically prohibit subletting, so that may have something to do with it. As I mentioned earlier, that presumes that the landlord thinks that the ex-boyfriend is a reasonable credit risk on his own. If they don't, you're right that there's no way they're going to willingly let the other party off the hook.
posted by wierdo at 11:33 AM on March 28, 2007

Why doesn't she just give notice since she is on the lease. Since she is giving notice that she will not be renewing the place, he'll have to sign a new contract on his own if he wants to continue living there. She is not obligated to continue to renew the contract, she just has to give notice according to the requirements on the lease.

If she is on the lease, even if she isn't living there, it is her responsibility to communicate with the landlord if she wants to protect her own interests.

Is there any reason she hasn't picked up the phone and called the landlord to find out how she can get off the lease?
posted by necessitas at 11:48 AM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Seconding necessitas' advice. Also, I looked at the Texas Property Code real quick and didn't see anything relevant.

There is a Texas Tenants rights organization that gives advice. I didn't copy the url but you or she can google it.
posted by BluGnu at 12:01 PM on March 28, 2007

I would recommend that she terminate "her" portion of the lease in writing, stating that she will not be residing there as of X date. She should mention that this letter holds no authority over what ex may be planning to do. She should send via certified mail with signature confirmation to the landlord and cc: another to the ex.

It will be up to the landlord and ex to work out what they want to do after that.
posted by blackkar at 12:13 PM on March 28, 2007

Yeah, Ive had many a lease in Texas, and am very familiar with the TAA regulations which would apply in most apartments in Texas.

Even though they are both on the same lease, they are actually considered as individuals. If she sends in her notice (which is almost always 30 days) that she is going to be out on the last day of her lease then she will be removed from the lease and he will have to come down and sign a new lease with just his name on it or he will have to move out. When she signed the lease it was on the basis of both of their incomes and it will not apply once she moves out. Too bad for him. Tell her to call your landlord immediately, explain the situation, they are people too, and you can work something out. Worst cast scenario, she will have to pay for 1 month after you move out, (the allotted notice.)
posted by trishthedish at 12:50 PM on March 28, 2007

Call the landlord, yes. But also give written 30 days' notice, in writing, on paper, with a Xerox of the written letter and proof of (at least) mailing or (better) delivery, i.e. certified or registered mail.

Phone conversations are not legally binding. In this case it is a courtesy to let your landlord know what the situation is; it does not replace the written notice, it serves as an adjunct.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:50 PM on March 28, 2007

Here's the TAA position on tenants departing for military.

YMMVFilter: If your friend did not sign a TAA lease (which is rare, unless the landlord is a private homeowner), these provisions might not apply.

If she did sign a TAA lease though, that website will have helpful info.
posted by pineapple at 2:12 PM on March 28, 2007

Rather than worrying about whether the ex will or won't give notice and let the place kick over to month-by-month renting, why doesn't she just give the landlord notice that she's gone, right now?

(In fact, why didn't she do that when she moved out? It might not have gotten her off the lease immediately, but it would have headed off this sort of shenanigans. I guess hindsight is always 20/20.)

Anyway, I'd second the many recommendations that she should send a certified letter to the leasing company NOW, stating that she is no longer living on the premises, and will not under any circumstances be on the new lease. If the boyfriend wants to stay there, he can do it by himself, but that ought to ensure that she's not tied up in whatever he does.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:23 PM on March 28, 2007

Something else to consider is that if the landlord later discovers damage to the apartment, he might try to pursue you for it on the theory that it occurred while you were a tenant, and that you are jointly and severally liable. So it might be a good idea to document the state of the apartment now as much as possible and get the landlord to do a walkthrough.

Also, your friend should get her part of the security deposit back, if any.
posted by grouse at 3:57 PM on March 28, 2007

She really oughta start keeping written documentation of everything.. and let the apartment management know what's up!
posted by drstein at 7:29 PM on March 28, 2007

She needs to talk to the landlord or property manager and do whatever that person says to get/stay off the lease. Go in person, write stuff down, if manager needs a signed letter, write it on the spot (have manager make a photocopy for her).
posted by ilsa at 9:48 PM on March 28, 2007

She can give notice, if he won't. If she calls the landlord and gives notice, then it's done. That'll force the boyfriend's hand, also, but he's already proven himself an asshat. If he wants to stay, he'll need to let the landlord know that and probably re-sign by himself.
posted by Jonasio at 4:23 PM on April 7, 2007

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