How do you terminate a month-to-month lease with co-tenants?

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Topic: How do you terminate a month-to-month lease with co-tenants?

General Discussion May 31, 2014 at 2:01 am

How do you terminate a month-to-month lease with co-tenants?

Hi Popville, I need some advice.

Last year, I agreed to a 6 month lease that went month-to-month back in January 2014. I am a co-tenant with two other people and we are all jointly and severally responsible for all the terms of the lease.

I gave the land lord my one month’s notice that I’d like to vacate and terminate my tenancy. The LL said that I cannot do that. Either I find a replacement, which is approved by all parties, and then transfer the lease and liability to them, or all three current co-tenants must agree to vacate. My roommates do no want to leave and aren’t inclined to find a replacement for me on the lease.

My understanding was that since it became a month-to-month lease, any co-tenant could terminate with a month’s notice.

It doesn’t make sense to me — and doesn’t seem possible — that I’m am bound to a month-to-month lease INDEFINITELY and can only leave at the mercy of my roommates, that is, if my co-tenenants approve my candidate or choose to leave as well.

I get that I have J&S liability for rent during the lease period (so any given month if one tenant doesn’t pay, the rest of us have to cover). But how can I be bound forever in a co-tenancy with two other people? The lease period ends at a certain point. At that point ever month is an opportunity to terminate the lease. Once I give proper notice, seems like I should get to terminate my obligations in the month-to-month lease.

Is my land lord really right here? Is this legal?

2 Replies Add Reply

OP here. Thanks for all the suggestions on how to fill the room. I fully acknowledge that this situation isn’t so bad. I will most likely find someone with decent credit who my roommates are fine with and who my landlord approves of. But I still feel like I shouldn’t have to. And I’m frustrated that my LL has created a situation where he maintains all the power and has placed all the liability on to us. I am a cautious person. I read the lease and thought I understood the terms and I understood I was making a (6 month and then a) month to month commitment.

I’m uncomfortable that I’m forced to assume all the risk when I have the least control over the situation. One of the reasons I’m leaving is that we split the rent based on room size (and unofficially, based on who has been here the longest). I think I’m being over charged for my room. But my roommates get to set the terms on what the rent will be for this room. They could further skew it if they wanted. They also have no incentive to make themselves available for interviews or open houses, because at the end of the day, I’m liable if a replacement isn’t found. They aren’t malicious, but they are busy, we all travel a lot, and we aren’t great at coordinating. My landlord isn’t very helpful, does the bare minimum required, and has pretty strict requirements for credit. I have no say in his decision to approve or not, and he has a lot of leeway to set terms that are stringent but still “reasonable.”

The problem with this is that my landlord has basically created a situation where he advertises a month-to-month But it isn’t. Maybe he can terminate within a month, but anyone of us can’t – we could truly be stuck indefinitely. Even if you could sort it out in small claims court eventually, that is a huge burden and a great risk to credit and cost of time. He moves the risk of vacancy to us, the tenants. It seems, based on how tenant-friendly DC is suppose to be, this couldn’t be a legal lease.

I’ll definitely call the tenants advocates and investigate. I’m hopeful that this situation will work out for me, but it doesn’t seem fair.

As someone who has lived with others in a similar situation, I agree w/the landlord that you ought to find your own replacement. But I am not sure about that. Good question, check w/DCRA, in Souhwest (Waterfront stop)….You will get the final word there. Yes you will waste a couple of hours but…..

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