How To Divide Damages Between Departing Co-Tenants

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on November 21, 2006 under Landlord Tenant Lawsuits | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

A landlord who has a rental agreement signed by co-tenants can often find himself / herself in a quandary. For example, you as a landlord have two co-tenants, who have given notice that they will be vacating your rental property in a month’s time. One of them, who lived in the house for a year, has already left, while the other, who just moved in a couple of months back, will be leaving at the end of the 30-days notice. When you try to deduct for damage or cleaning charges, the first tenant claims he / she left the property sparklingly clean, in mint condition, therefore he / she is not responsible for any damage that might take place after his / her departure. The question is how are you going to handle the costs for damage repair and cleaning?

Simple, there is no need to frazzle yourself! Remember, you have the signature of both tenants on the rental lease, ergo; both are responsible for ensuring that the place is cleaned up and damage if any, accounted for out of the security amount deposited with you. A landlord does not need to worry as to, who of the two co-tenants is to be charged for the damage, courtesy of a legal principle known as joint and several liability. Simply put, it means, any one of the two co-tenants has to pay for all the damage, and even whole of the rent, if one or the other skips, without paying. The co-tenants are responsible for splitting up the responsibility or the bill between themselves.

When the second tenant leaves, inspect your rental property, deducting from the security deposit only what is necessary to cover unpaid rent, damage and cleaning beyond normal wear and tear. Split the balance of the security deposit, sending half to each of the co-tenants.

Actually, the newcomer before joining an existing tenancy should have asked the landlord to inspect the property before he / she moved in to avoid being charged for pre-existing damage. Or, he / she should have discussed the matter with pre-existing tenants. All a landlord has to worry about is that any costs incurred for cleaning or damage repair is paid up from the security deposit.

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