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Problem with neglectful landlord demanding more payment

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Problem with neglectful landlord demanding more payment

Postby ka137 » Tue Dec 26, 2006 9:15 am

Hello, I'm writing this on behalf of my little brother. I'll run the situation by and hopefuly get some feedback, thanks!

He currently attends college as a second year student, and during this past summer decided to live off campus. He ended up sharing a house with 2 other friends, one of them being the nephew of the landlord. There was never any kind of written lease or agreement, only a general understanding that my family would be paying $500 a month to the landlord (aswell as cable and internet services split 3 ways among the other two boys), throught the semester.

However thing quicky went downhill. The nephew of the landlord soon allowed his girlfriend to move into his room, now making the total number of tenants 4. Even though a new tenant was introduce, my brother's rent or utilities amount was never reduced. My brother informed us that living there soon became very hard, as his room was right next to the nephew's room, and he and his girlfriend would get into huge arguments almost everynight.

Then shortly after that, ANOTHER tenant was allowed to move into the house by the landlord and his nephew, making the total number of tenants five. Yet still my brother's rent and utilities remained the same. This new tenant didn't even have a room to stay in, and isntead took over the common room/living room, intruding on what should have been a shared space.

So, because he just couldnt the crowding or arguements anymore, after my parents paid his November rent, my brother moved out of the house to retutn to campus housing. He informed the landlords nephew but may not have contacted the landlord. He tells us that this was about one week before Thanksgiving.

Now, the landlord is asking for almost $1,000 from my parents, stating that he should be paid for the December rent and also damage that was done to the house, he hints he could take them to court. However my brother informs us that he was not even present the time of the damage, and it was done mostly by the last tenant to join the house.


My question:
Should my brother and parents be responsible for paying December's rent, and the damage done by another tenant? How can he have the nerve to expect them to pay for that months rent when my brother had left the house more then two weeks prior due to his abuse and neglect as a landlord. What part does not having a written lease agreement play into this, as it was only an oral agreement. They are quite confident he is only trying to milk more money from them.
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Postby Aubergine » Tue Dec 26, 2006 10:40 am

You don't say what country this house is in, or if it was in the USA, what state. Landlord-tenant law is not universal; it varies from one jurisdiction to another.
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Postby ka137 » Tue Dec 26, 2006 11:15 am

Aubergine wrote:You don't say what country this house is in, or if it was in the USA, what state. Landlord-tenant law is not universal; it varies from one jurisdiction to another.


Oh sorry, it is in a small town in upstate New York (not the city)
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Dec 26, 2006 12:20 pm

What role did the nephew play? Was he just another roommate (who just happened to be related to the LL) or did he act somewhat as agent and go-between?

Was this sort of rooming house situation, i.e., did the LL make deals with each tenant separately, or did the three original tenants get together and go collectively to the LL?
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Postby ka137 » Tue Dec 26, 2006 2:35 pm

TenantNet wrote:What role did the nephew play? Was he just another roommate (who just happened to be related to the LL) or did he act somewhat as agent and go-between?

Was this sort of rooming house situation, i.e., did the LL make deals with each tenant separately, or did the three original tenants get together and go collectively to the LL?


I suspect that the nephew didn't actualy pay for his housing, as the uncle is his legal guardian I beleive. He was an agent/go-between. The LL asked my mother seperatly for my brother's share of the rent, first wanting an entire semester's worth upfront but she opted to go month - month.

The three original tenants must have meet with the LL and talked the deal over, though the monthly fee wasnt even conrete untill my mother talked it over with the LL. The whole situation is very unprofessional and open.
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Dec 26, 2006 4:26 pm

My feeling is that unless the rooms were rented individually, i.e. like a dorm or bording house, then the apartment was rented as a package deal. The people were somehow put together and agreed to rent the apartment (not the room).

What this involves is a term often seen in leases called "joint and several" which means that if one roommate moves out, the remaining roommate(s) are still responsible to the landlord for the entire rent. It would be up to the roommates to find someone to fill in the gap. Without a lease or written agreement, then it's a question if this is an enforcable provision.

Here it seems the LL collected from each tenant individually; the tenants didn't each put their share into the pot with one tenant then paying the LL.

But at most the liability might be one month. See http://tenant.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=5024 where outside of NYC, the requirement is for written notice. That would apply to an entire tenancy, not just one roommate. Here you have just one roommate leaving.

It seems here the LL wants it both ways. It's not really a rooming house, but the LL is sort of operating in that way. It's still one apartment that all moved into at the same time.

Beyond that, however, is the question of conditions. With the introduction of two additional roommates (none were part of the agreement), the conditions were untenable, both in noise and the last tenant taking over the common area, I would say you have a good case of the LL violating the agreement. I assume that he contacted the LL about all this and complained, and that nothing was done.

And if the LL's nephew was acting as an agent of the LL (you would need to specify -- did he collect rent? how did he do that), then the LL was informed even if not in writing.

As for the damage, that's a question of fact. Either he had sone hand in it or he didn't. But if it's an apartment, then all tenants are responsible for (real) damages if due to negligence or misuse. But if it's an apartment, the the remaining tenants are responsible to the LL for all the rent. (those tenants might have a case against your brother, but it would be them who should make the demand, not the LL).
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