Joint and several liability for tenants

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Latest post 07-30-2011 2:34 PM by Drew. 4 replies.
  • 07-30-2011 8:19 AM

    Joint and several liability for tenants

    If you have 2 tenants who are party to the same lease, are they jointly and severally liable for damages?

    I am a landlord and have a lease between (x) me and (y) two tenants who live in an apartment that I rent to them.

    Both tenants signed the lease, and the lease refers to "Landlord" and "Tenant" (singular) throughout the document, except in the introduction.  The introduction to the lease refers to "John Smith and Jane Doe (Tenant(s))".  That's the only place that it refers to Tenants (plural). I don't see any language in the lease providing that they are jointly and severally liable, so I'd think that common law or statutes would cover this.

    I'm having a bad situation with them and want to be able to pursue one of them for damages, without having that one tenant get off by saying that the other tenant is responsible for the damages; I want both of them to be jointly and severally liable.

    The state is NC.

    Thank you!

  • 07-30-2011 10:07 AM In reply to

    Re: Joint and several liability for tenants

    Local Landlord:

    If you have 2 tenants who are party to the same lease, are they jointly and severally liable for damages?

    Yes.

    Local Landlord:
    I'm having a bad situation with them and want to be able to pursue one of them for damages, without having that one tenant get off by saying that the other tenant is responsible for the damages

    You would be wise to pursue both and not play favorites.

    If it got to court and you only pursue one, that one could point the finger at the other and the result could be iffy. Or, if a judgment against one is uncollectible you have to start all over with the other.

    Pursue both, get a judgment against both, then you can pick the most vulnerable to go after first.

    Generally, it's best for a lease to specify joint and several but joint and several could be implied by the terms even if not stated. For example, if John Smith and Jane Doe are shown as tenants and a single amount is shown as rent and they both sign, the presumption is that they are each responsible for all of the rent and whatever other obligations are in the lease.

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  • 07-30-2011 1:48 PM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 49,509

    Re: Joint and several liability for tenants

    Old LL--I'd not debate the language, I'd merely go after both of them for the full amount.

    I would NOT get involved with playing favorites with either tenant just yet, it could backfire against you later in court.



  • 07-30-2011 2:17 PM In reply to

    Re: Joint and several liability for tenants

    Jack and Drew,

    I am not certain that you inderstand the concept of J&S liability. The advantage of being in a state that has not abolished J&S, is that the Plaintiff, here the LL, may PURSUE only ONE Def.(Tenant), and that Def will have to pay for ALL damages. The Def-T then has the burden of collecting from the OTHER-T. This relieves the LL from having to pursue the  other T.

    adjuster jack:
    If it got to court and you only pursue one, that one could point the finger at the other and the result could be iffy

    J&S prevents that very scenario you have used, Jack.

    Many states have abolished J&S liability. You may read about it here. http://www.atra.org/show/7345

    North Ca., has NOT abolished it, to the best of my knowledge. When you have 2 tenants on the lease, in a state that has not abolished J&S., you may pursue ONE/BOTH, and they are BOTH liable for the FULL amount of the judgment. (This does NOT mean the LL receives DOUBLE recovery) However, it is prudent to pursue BOTH D's, in case one is insolvent

  • 07-30-2011 2:34 PM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 49,509

    Re: Joint and several liability for tenants

    Perhaps, but generally its as easy to sue both as to sue one--and if you win you really don't care which pays up--let the two of them point fingers at each othr.



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