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Roommate abandoned property, returned keys... I lost case despite contracts!

This is a discussion on Roommate abandoned property, returned keys... I lost case despite contracts! within the Landlord vs Tenant Issues forum, part of the REAL ESTATE & PROPERTY LAW category; I was recently humiliated in court during a landlord-tenant dispute because my roommate returned his keys to me before he ...

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Old Jun 13th, 2007, 01:15 PM   #1
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Default Roommate abandoned property, returned keys... I lost case despite contracts!

I was recently humiliated in court during a landlord-tenant dispute because my roommate returned his keys to me before he left and therefore (according to the judge) I could not collect rent from him for the time I was trying to replace him (in a house I lease, not own). This is despite two contracts that clearly state he will pay for the room until he finds his own replacement. So I'm stuck paying for my room and his empty room.

If I appeal, I need a precedent or clear legal statute that says that returning the keys does not terminate our agreements. Does anyone know of at least one case opinion/court decision, or link to an opinion where a tenant's responsibilities were not terminated when he handed in the keys? The case needs to be in Maryland, preferably PG county district court or a higher court of Maryland.

If the lease was not terminated because the tenant remained at the property after returning the keys or because his property remained at the house after he returned the keys, it would be that much more helpful.

At very least, where can I search myself for this kind of information? Thanks.
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Old Jun 13th, 2007, 01:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: Roommate abandoned property, returned keys... I lost case despite contracts!

Here are some details. I lease a five bedroom house in College Park and sublet to four undergraduate students (stupid, I know). I am approaching the end of the second year lease. At the beginning of the 2006-2007 lease I had the roommate in question sign a friendly lease-type document that says things like "regardless of circumstance or actual residence" and "in good faith" that he will pay rent and 1/5 utilities each month from August 15, 2006 to August 15, 2007. This was not a month to month arrangement. In January he decided to start moving home. Predicting this exact situation, I had him sign a second agreement that guaranteed that he would continue to pay until someone actually provided a deposit for his room. I signed neither contract. Then he bailed (not right away, I'll explain in a bit). I don't think the judge read either contract, we were the last case and as soon as he said I took the keys, she closed the case.

Anyway, after moving most of his stuff home and even after returning the keys, he continued to stay at the house for about a month. After he completely disappeared, he still left a large pile of belongings, a dresser, and a futon frame in the room. It took me until now to find a replacement for him. He owes me about $2,000 in rent and utilities. I'm too embarrassed to appeal unless I have some proof (law or precedent) that the judge was hasty or mistaken. Please let me know if I can clarify anything. Thanks again.

(I've been searching legal databases at school and online but I can't find anything similar. The common situations are the tenant not returning the keys or the landlord wanting them back early. Nothing for what happened to me).
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Old Jun 15th, 2007, 10:48 AM   #3
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Default Re: Roommate abandoned property, returned keys... I lost case despite contracts!

An agreement is an agreement--you cannot just end it because you wish without a good reason; something seems odd; why did the judge not believe you had an agreement?
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