Credit Advice

When roommates don’t pay their share of the rent

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Credit Advice

When roommates don’t pay their share of the rent

Dear Experian,

I'm a college student, and today I was given an eviction notice because my roommates didn’t pay their rent on time. I was wondering what happens if they pay the amount they owe before our court date. Does it still go on my credit score? Do I have any options because I paid my rent on time?

- STO

Dear STO,

The important thing to understand is that there are two agreements involved in your question. The first is the agreement between you and your roommates. The second is the agreement you and your roommates have with the landlord.

You have an agreement with your roommates that they will contribute an equal share of the rent payment each month. I suspect it is simply an informal, verbal agreement. Apparently, they aren’t living up to that agreement.

The agreement you and your roommates have with your landlord is a formal, legal agreement under contract. I assume that it is one contract with both you and your roommates named as responsible for full payment. That contract requires you and your roommates to pay a certain total amount for rent each month. How you divide that total among yourselves is up to you. The landlord only cares that the rent is paid in full.

As with a joint credit account, if one of you can’t pay his share, the others are responsible for covering the amount so that the payment is made in full to the landlord.

Read your contract and discuss the situation with the landlord to see if you are included in the court action. If you are then the subsequent judgment will most likely be included in your credit report and definitely will have a negative impact on your credit scores.

Sadly, this isn’t an unusual situation. Anytime you have roommates, you must be very careful about the arrangements you have for the rent, telephone, electricity, gas and other utility payments you share. If your roommates don’t pay, you can be held accountable for the full amount.

Thanks for asking.

- The "Ask Experian" team

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