Farmington, UT asked in Landlord - Tenant for Utah

Q: Do I owe roommate rent back for April if she moved out on her own April second without giving me notice?

Roommate moved out voluntarily without giving me notice and is now threatening to take me to small claims court for Her portion of rent since she no longer lives here. We have both signed the the release of residents form to remove her from our lease after she decided to move out. This form states ‘you here by waive the right to any refunds (including deposit) and any benefits.’ Would this form help me in small claims court?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Kenneth Prigmore
Kenneth Prigmore
  • Spanish Fork, UT
  • Licensed in Utah

A: The short answer to your question is "possibly". In my experience small claims court judges each have their own mind about what should happen, even more than your average district court judge. If either party is unhappy with their small claims judgment, they can spend more money to start over in district court. The filing fee in district court is 2-3 times what is paid in small claims.

Small claims judges may simply go with what they think is "fair", ignoring contracts and law. Other times I have seen them "split the baby" like Solomon in the Old Testament. If that happened, you might be required to pay back half of the rent for April.

You really can't be sure what will happen in small claims. If you want to limit your risks, you may wish to offer a compromise. If you give the old roommate enough money, they may not want to pay the small claims filing fee when they aren't sure they will come out with a better result.

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