When two or more people simultaneously sign the same rental agreement or lease, they are cotenants and share the same legal rights and responsibilities. However, there's a special twist. One cotenant's negative behavior -- not paying the rent, for example -- can affect everyone's tenancy. And if a friend moves in without permission, it can spell trouble with the landlord. Here's a summary of the legal rules affecting roommates.
Your lease or rental agreement may be as short as one page or longer than ten. It may be typed or handwritten, easy to understand, or full of legalese. Most landlords use preprinted forms they buy in stationery stores, order from a landlords’ association, or find in a software program.â
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If you want to add a roommate, most landlords will insist that the new roommate become a cotenant rather than a subtenant. Why? Unlike subtenants, cotenants are subject to joint and several liability, which allows the landlord to demand the entire rent from the cotenant as well as you. If it’s up to