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mattchico

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #1 
Hi folks

I'll try and keep this succinct.  It's an interesting one.  FYI, I'm in CA.

5 tenants in the unit on a joint and several lease.  Around 12/11, they start fueding, etc., one tenant is discovered keeping all the PG&E money for herself, etc.  She moves out In January.  We immediately start seeking a replacement. She puts an unauthorized lock on her room.  We're unable to show it.  By the time she gets it off of there, perspective replacement tenants are gone.  She gives official notice at end of January that she moved out.  Leaves room a mess.  We continue to advertise.  She doesn't pay February. I make a deal with the remaining tenants to accept temporary partial rent (per NOLO CA law book).  Moved out tenant gives a check 3/1/12.  Doesn't pay April.  They're now 2 months behind.  She does not respond to any communication methods.  Lives locally.  I send certified letters, etc.  

We now have a potential replacement who needs a place to stay for the 6 weeks that remain on the lease.  Moved out tenant doesn't respond to any communication attempts.  So, can't get her to sign release of security deposit.

So, what do I do?  I'm going to have the remaining tenants pay her back rent and they can deal with her.  I was trying to be accommodating (remaining tenants are very good), but I think all those debts should be cleared before the new person signs out.  But, what to do about her non-response? 

I have a call into a couple of attorneys, but thought I'd post here and see what folks had to say.  Thanks.

matt
OHlandlord

Registered:
Posts: 3,814
Reply with quote  #2 
Don't take partial rents.  That's the whole idea of being jointly and severally liable.  If one doesn't pay rent, the others are responsible to make up his rent.  You should demand rent in full if they rented as a group.  And if they did rent as a group, why be concerned about still having a lock on her door or finding another tenant?  That's the group's responsibility, not yours.  You don't care about her lock or another tenant.  You have a group that rented the place and that group (or at least part of them) are still there to pay.  Any deposit from the group stays as long as any of the group are still there.  It doesn't get released until EVERYONE moves out andf then you send ONE CHECK addressed to Tenants A, B, C, AND D.  They all have to sign it to cash it, relieving you of any dispute over which tenant pays for which damage.  You don't need any release for her share of the deposit.  The new tenane can either pay her for her share of the deposit and get a signed release for it, or simply stay with no stake in the deposit.  You already have a deposit on file for the unit.  It stays unit, they all move.  This is what a joint and several lease is.

But you are treating this as if you are doing a room rental.  Are you?  Did she rent her room separately from the others, on a separate rental agreement, with a separate deposit?  If so, then they aren't joint and several tenants, but individuals on separate agreements.  If so, you are responsible to get into the room, re-rent it, do her deposit statement within your state's time period (21 days) of when you knew she had vacated (the end of Jan.).  If so, you can charge her rent for the next month.  But you said it was all one lease.  So getting the money from her is the other tenants' problem, not yours.  They can re-rent the room (with your approval) and take her to court for any $ they have to pay on her behalf because she moved out.
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