Roommates and Co-signing a Lease

You may end up signing a lease with another person, such as a friend or significant other, because you intend to live with them. You might also co-sign a lease with a renter you don’t plan to live with because the renter would not qualify for the rental on their own. An example of this is a parent who co-signs their adult child's lease.Icon of a two page document against a blue background

When you sign a lease together with other people, the lease often says that you are “jointly and severally liable.” This means that you are each fully responsible to the landlord for things like the full amount of rent and any damage to the rental unit. For example, if one of your roommates fails to pay their part of rent, your landlord can still require that you pay the full rental amount, not just the portion of rent that you agreed with your roommate to pay. It also means that if there is damage to the apartment, the landlord can hold you responsible, even if you did not cause the damage. If you co-sign the lease, even though you do not live in the rental, you could also be held responsible for rent and damage to the rental unit.

The Tenant Resource Center provides tips for signing leases with roommates, as well as tips for co-signers. While this center is based in Wisconsin, many of the tips provided for tenants will be useful for Iowans as well.