College Student Facing Eviction when Roommate Violates Lease

Dear Experian,

My daughter — a college student — may be evicted from her apartment due to her roommate violating the lease. If this happens how will it affect my daughter, and will she have any recourse?


Dear JAG,

It sounds like your daughter has found herself in a situation all too common for college students. She has a joint lease agreement and the roommate is bailing out, leaving your daughter responsible for the entire lease amount, which she cannot afford.

Based on your question, I am assuming that your daughter has a joint lease contract with the apartment complex, with her roommate being the joint lease holder. That agreement almost certainly states that your daughter and her roommate are equally responsible for the lease payments. If one of them doesn't pay, the other is bound by contract to pay the entire amount.

If that is the case, there is probably little recourse for your daughter. The lease itself will not appear on your daughter's credit report, but the apartment manager could turn over any unpaid lease payments and fees to a collection agency. The collection account then would appear on your daughter's credit report.

Alternatively, the apartment complex also could sue for any outstanding lease payments, usually through a small claims court. The court judgment then would appear on your daughter's credit report.

Collection accounts and civil judgments both are considered quite negative.

More often I hear of similar situations with utility bills: gas, electricity, telephone, water, cable television. However, the same applies to the apartment lease.

When one roommate leaves, the other is left holding the bill. Unpaid utility bills are sent to collection agencies and subsequently are added to credit reports.

To minimize any impact, your daughter should try to work with the apartment manager regarding the lease. Perhaps she can get a new roommate who can assist with the lease payments before any action is taken that could negatively impact her credit report.

She also needs to consider her utility agreements. If they are joint with her roommate, your daughter needs to contact the utility companies to revise those agreements if possible and have her name removed from them.

Thanks for asking.
The "Ask Experian" team

Sign up for helpful tips, special offers and more!
You're signed up!
Our system is undergoing maintenance and will be available again soon.