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Ask Curbed: Undocumented Sublet Cluster F

Everyone piles into a rental apartment with a bunch of other folks at least once during those young, foolish days. We've all been there. And it's never really clear who's on the lease. Needless to say, complications arise, and here's one of 'em:

Recently I moved out of an undocumented sublet. There was the master lease holder that had the paperwork for the three bedroom apartment. He did not live at the location. Then the three subletters, myself included, lived at the apartment. A friend of mine crashed on the couch while he established himself in NYC for about a month. He paid for professional cleaning, picked up toilet paper, paper towels, and generally helped out where he could when he could. Now after I have moved out the other two subletters are seeking damages for him staying there. Damages in the neighborhood of ¼ of the rent for three months, treble damages on top of that to cover lawyers fees, and financial reimbursement for the repainting of the room that I stayed in. To my knowledge, these guys don't have a pot to piss in. If they had asked nicely for some cash from the guy I'm sure there wouldn't have been an issue. However, with a lawyer sending certified mail to my work, to say I'm angry would be an understatement. What (if anything) are these guys able stand on in regards to real estate law? So far the lease holder hasn’t said anything regarding any of this, just a couple of guys in an undocumented sublet threatening a lawsuit to another undocumented subletter.

Your advice, as always, in the comments please.
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