Security Deposits and Joint and Several Liability
QUESTION: Our property management firm rented an apartment to an elderly couple, Joe and Susan. Joe paid the security deposit when the lease was executed.
Joe just recently passed away, and some of his family members are asking whether the estate will receive the security deposit. Susan is still in the apartment, but she cannot afford the rent by herself. Can I apply the security deposit toward any unpaid rent if Susan defaults, or does the security deposit need to be turned over to the estate because Joe paid it?
ANSWER: Paragraph 27 of the Standard Form Lease (Form 410-T) provides that multiple tenants are jointly and severally liable for any liability arising under the lease agreement. This means that when the lease was signed, both Joe and Susan both agreed to be fully responsible for any unpaid rent or damages, regardless of which one of them was actually at fault.
Because the security deposit was given to secure any potential joint and several obligations, including the obligation to pay rent, the security deposit can be applied toward any unpaid rent if Susan defaults and the lease is terminated.
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