Fair Contract Case 2

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Logan Rental Contract Dispute

You rent a house in the Logan neighborhood with six of your friends. It’s an old house, that could really use some care, but you are a college student, and it’s really cheap to live there. You sign the lease in September, and move in the 1st of June.
However, some of the old tenants subleased from your friends over the summer. Because of this odd transition between tenants, when you and your friends took over the lease, the landlord did not do an exit walkthrough with the previous tenants, did nothing to house to repair the damages incurred, and did not make them clean out all the furniture, pots and pans and miscellaneous items from the house. There was a tacit understanding between the landlord “Mike” and the seven of you, that the house was in terrible shape, and would continue to be this way throughout your renting period, despite your feeble attempts to spruce things up.
When you signed the lease, you had no knowledge of the amount of miscellaneous junk in the house, as when you toured it, there were people living in it. Nevertheless, you move in and use some of the items that seemingly come with the house. Most of it is junk.
After about six months of living in the house, you renew the lease with Mike.
Things get complicated when Mike sells the house to another landlord. The new landlord also does not do any kind of walk-through of the house assessing damage and they have inherited both you as tenants, and the lease that you signed with Mike. However, they apparently did not inherit the tacit understanding that you had with Mike about the condition of the house.
Your experience with the new landlord was not great. He just didn’t respond much to concerns and problems with the house, and he didn’t appreciate some efforts you and your housemates made to get the yard into shape. He’s just pretty cold and business like when he does show up.
You graduate, and when you try to move out, the new landlord demands that you pay to have all the junk in the house removed, even though it does not belong to you, and you do not in fact know if it even belongs to the earlier tenants. The landlord demands that you pay $1200 to pay for a junk removal service and repair damages.
Your friend Mary does not think you should have to pay to remove previous tenants’ junk. Period. Your friend John thinks that you should take at least some responsibility for the condition of the house and all the things in it, and that you and your friends should split the cost with the landlords, each party paying $600. Your partner wonders if maybe you are liable for the whole costs.
You are about to meet the landlord to discuss this issue. What position will you take? What is a fair outcome for this situation? Be sure to use some of the concepts we have developed for discussing fairness and justice in contracts: fairness, autonomy, reciprocity, benefits, reliance, implicit and explicit agreements.