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Old 01-01-2011, 11:48 AM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
30,108 posts, read 67,221,241 times
Reputation: 15763

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Well, after a depressing Christmas spent in tears my New Year's Eve yesterday was ruined when I received a text from someone I had hoped I wouldn't be hearing from. The woman who moved from California to Reston, VA to become my co-lessee stated she had left the apartment yesterday morning and was moving back to California. She claimed that the apartment made her and her dog very sick, that there were rats, dog feces, mold, etc. everywhere, and that living conditions were extremely unsanitary and unsafe (although she was surrounded next-door and above by two other similarly-aged single women with dogs who were seemingly happy living there, but I digress). Just a few weeks ago I had her personally walk through the place with me, and when offered to make a joint list of "pre-existing damages" that I'd be held liable for vs. the damages she would be liable for after that date she said everything looked fine. She moved here for a new job near Reston Town Center.

Anyhow, I had her sign an additional contract between the two of us to outline our responsibilities and obligations as co-lessees. I stated I'd pay a pro-rated amount of December's rent for the term that the unit would be unoccupied, and she'd be liable for the portion of that month's rent that she and her dog would be occupying the premises. I agreed to pay the lease alteration fee and her own application fee; she was to pay the pet rent and her non-refundable pet deposit. I made it very clear in our own agreement that she was to make a personal check payable from her own account on or around the first of each month to our property management company, as well as for utilities. She was to contact Dominion Electric to activate her own account, at which point mine would be deactivated. I was to vacate the premises as of the date of the contract's signing (which I did), and she was going to be solely financially responsible for the apartment until the expiration of our lease term in May 2011.

There's much more to it than that, but I only have a hard copy of the contract (I gave her a copy as well), and she and I each signed and dated it in the presence of our leasing consultant as a witness. I am going to fax a copy of this contract to my parents once I return to my new home in Pittsburgh, and they are going to take it to our family attorney. In the interim, though, rent is supposed to be due TODAY for January. I'm not paying it, as not only can't I afford to fork over rent in Pittsburgh AND $1,200 or so for rent on an unoccupied apartment in Reston, but I'm absolved of any financial responsibility given the contract signed between me and her. She, apparently, is also not paying, as when I texted her back in regards to our contract together she never replied.

My questions?

1.) Is there any way to avoid having to take her to court at this point?
2.) If she's in California, I'm in Pennsylvania, and the apartment is in Virginia, I'm assuming we'd have to go to court in Virginia?
3.) Can the property management company be forced to forward her new contact information to me so she can be sent a formal court summons?
4.) Since we are both listed on a lease with the apartment community I'm guessing we are BOTH going to be held liable for the lease?
5.) Should I pay to cancel the lease and then sue her independently?
6.) Could I also sue her to recoup my own legal expenses? Could I sue for anything additional, such as emotional distress or financial hardships, as I'd have to take time off work from my new job in PA and endure the stress of physically being in Reston to take her to court?

I'm just so stressed and confused at this point. Northern Virginia really does ruin people's lives. Reston really is just the "gift that keeps on giving". I should just sue the whole darn census designated place for emotional distress at this point.

My parents are offering to pay to break the lease in Reston, and I'd repay them monthly as a loan. Regardless, though, as the contract is written SHE is financially responsible, not me, for rent. What can be done?

 
Old 01-01-2011, 12:00 PM
 
Location: Reston, VA
2,005 posts, read 3,529,634 times
Reputation: 1147
I would pay to break the lease and count this up to an expensive lesson learned. I don't think suing this women would do anything more than further aggrevate you.
 
Old 01-01-2011, 12:17 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
30,108 posts, read 67,221,241 times
Reputation: 15763
Quote:
Originally Posted by JfromReston View Post
I would pay to break the lease and count this up to an expensive lesson learned. I don't think suing this women would do anything more than further aggrevate you.
She signed a contract with both the property, though, making her half-liable financially for the apartment, and then she signed another contract with me in which she understood she was 100% financially liable. If neither entity holds her accountable for her "cut and run" action here, then what's to stop her from doing this again to others in the future? She didn't respond, either, when I asked about her new job in Reston.

What lesson would I have learned? I drafted up my own contract with a lot of "legalese" covering any and all of our fiduciary obligations so I wouldn't get burned by her just cutting and running (as she has). If I took this on Judge Judy and showed her the signed and dated contract, along with having the leasing consultant who witnessed our joint signing/dating serve as a witness to testify, then I don't see how I would lose the case. Her signature and date are on the contract with me and the contract with the community. My leasing consultant was present and guided us through the process.

$3,000 may be a drop in the bucket for some in NoVA, but I can't afford that (especially not with the salary I was making relative to my fixed expenditures). The entire point of me locating a suitable (or whom I presumed to be a suitable) replacement for me to occupy my apartment in Reston as a co-lessee was because I wanted to be responsible in NOT just "stiffing" the complex. Moderator Cut I couldn't SURVIVE living in Reston until May 2011. Moderator Cut I don't just abandon my obligations, though. I'm preparing to use my retirement savings as collateral to reimburse my former employer for my sign-on bonus. I gave them a full two-week's notice before my departure and offered to train a replacement. I worked side-by-side with my leasing consultant through the entire process of securing this replacement tenant. She was "vetted" by them and passed a background and credit check.

I did everything "right". Why should I have learned from this as if I made a mistake? My only mistake was moving to NoVA in the first place. Now I STILL can't "escape", and it's completely ruined my holiday season. Moderator Cut

Last edited by FindingZen; 01-01-2011 at 12:43 PM.. Reason: personal attack/off-topic remarks
 
Old 01-01-2011, 12:26 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
30,108 posts, read 67,221,241 times
Reputation: 15763
1.) I do apologize in advance, J, if that reply seemed at all snarky. I'm just really stressed right now, and I don't mean to cause any offense. I do appreciate your advice, even if I can't agree with throwing the contract I worked hard to draft into the trash to let yet another person from NoVA laugh at my misery with their scheming.

2.) A moderator can feel free to relocate this thread to the "Renting" forum if they so choose. I actually forgot such a forum existed.

3.) Happy New Year, everyone.
 
Old 01-01-2011, 12:53 PM
 
104 posts, read 183,502 times
Reputation: 47
I think the advice from JfromReston was good, but Iím not a lawyer. Probably best to settle up with the rental office before it turns into 2 months. Not exactly the same situation, but at the last place I rented they were able to rent the apartment early, so they prorated the amount that I owed.
Sending good vibes to you. Things will get better.
 
Old 01-01-2011, 01:05 PM
 
68 posts, read 195,146 times
Reputation: 46
Unless Virginia is a lot different than most any other state (which I seriously doubt...) you are equally and severally liable for the rent as co-lessees. Not much you can do if the management company decides to go after you first other than sue your co-lessee in court (either small claims or regular depending on the amount she would owe you).

The contract between you and your co-lessee does not absolve you of any responsibility with the property -- only a cancellation of the original lease can do that and only the management company can do it...There is a reason why the management company allowed you to add your co-lessee to a new lease and didn't offer to change the lease to the new person and remove you from the contract completely -- the management company is protecting itself incase one of you was a deadbeat they could still collect from the other.

This is not to be taken as legal advice or to be taken as representative of a thoroughly researching the contract and tenancy laws of Virginia -- talk to your family attorney for that...

Good luck and yes, it sucks to get the shaft like this but you will most likely have to chalk it up to one of life's experiences...
 
Old 01-01-2011, 01:17 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
4,489 posts, read 9,559,900 times
Reputation: 3656
My husband had this happen just before we were married. He had a 2 br apartment and his roommate had to move for a job, so the roommate found a replacement guy on craigslist. The guy signed the lease and whatnot, but then jumped ship with no notice and moved back to Russia or Germany or somewhere completely unreachable, without paying any rent of course.

He discussed the situation with both the apartment complex management as well as several of our lawyer friends, and the answer was the same from everyone--it sucked, but he was on the hook for the remainder of the rent. The guy who fled the country couldn't be held liable for anything, since the lease did not say "Person X will pay $700 and person Y will pay $700". It just said the rent for apartment 806 was $1400/month.

He ended up paying the full rent for 2 months until he found someone else to take over the second bedroom for the remainder of the lease.
 
Old 01-01-2011, 01:26 PM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 26,845,729 times
Reputation: 42860
Quote:
Originally Posted by RestonRunner86 View Post
Well, after a depressing Christmas spent in tears my New Year's Eve yesterday was ruined when I received a text from someone I had hoped I wouldn't be hearing from. The woman who moved from California to Reston, VA to become my co-lessee stated she had left the apartment yesterday morning and was moving back to California.
Wow, someone went to the expense of moving here from California, stayed less than a month, and is now rich enough that she can pay to move all her stuff back to CA (plus get another job back there)? She's not moving to another apartment here????? Somebody has way too much money and way too many job opportunities, I guess.

The good news is, you have really generous parents. It's extremely nice of them to be willing to pay for the rent and let you work it out with them over time. Many people wouldn't do something that kind. So, at least you have that going for you.

Another forum would be a better place to get advice on a matter like this. We aren't lawyers, so I can't imagine why you are asking us for legal advice--especially since this is an unusual situation, and you are talking about sueing a person who reacts in an unusual way (moving to CA instead of another apartment is not something a typical person does). Please remember that we are strangers on the internet and asking people on internet forums for legal advice can lead to even more problems.

Last edited by Caladium; 01-01-2011 at 02:16 PM..
 
Old 01-01-2011, 02:19 PM
 
97 posts, read 281,524 times
Reputation: 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by JfromReston View Post
I would pay to break the lease and count this up to an expensive lesson learned. I don't think suing this women would do anything more than further aggrevate you.
I agree.

And Virginia did not do this to you. States don't have magic powers.
 
Old 01-01-2011, 02:37 PM
 
Location: among the clustered spires
2,380 posts, read 3,863,044 times
Reputation: 869
Usual caveat about being a stranger on the Internet and not being a lawyer.

Suing this woman might be a PITA. OTOH, if your and her separate contract was in order, she may be liable for things there, but that is between you and your parents' attorney. Was there any paperwork with your Reston landlord with her name on it? If not, RR is probably on the hook for the entirety of the Reston rent.

And RR, I just wanted to caution you -- the demons you're fleeing may well have taken up residence with in your new abode.
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