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Help me get rid of an unwanted guest
November 1, 2009 3:34 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to know how to deal with an unwanted "guest" living in an apartment that I'm paying rent for.

This is my situation:
I am renting an apartment with my ex-boyfriend, Mark (both our names are on the lease). I am no longer living there but I am continuing to pay half of the rent. Mark found someone to move into my old room and began collecting money from this person. Mark lied to the new roommate about the amount of rent and bills and ended up charging him over 50%. This was in addition to the 50% that I was paying at the time. In other words, Mark avoided paying any rent/bills and managed to make a tidy profit. When I found out about the new roommate, he was surprised to discover that the amount of rent/bills were not what Mark had told him.

I spoke with a housing adviser on campus who told me that the new occupant should actually be subletting off of me, since he'd been living in my old room. The problem got even more complicated when this new roommate refused to reimburse me for the remaining months of my lease and refused to sign any sort of sublet agreement. Instead, he insisted on paying the money directly to Mark and having Mark pay the money to me - despite the fact that Mark had shown himself to be a bit of a scam artist.

I've spoken to a police officer and the landlord and both have told me that I'm not able to have the new roommate removed since he's considered a "guest" of Mark's. So, now I'm left with having someone living in the room that I'm currently paying for. I'm worried that I'll be liable for any damage caused by the new roommate.

Is there any suggestions for having this person removed or forcing them to pay me for the room that I am renting? Also, the new roommate is a recipient of government disability and both Mark and the new roommate signed a form falsely indicating that the total rent paid to the landlord was more than it really was (although the new roommate didn't know this at the time). If I fail to report this, would I be considered an accessory to fraud?

P.S. If it's relevant, we're located in London, Ontario. Throwaway email: ontariotenantproblems@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Landlord and Tenant Board, and the Residential Tenancy Act, here.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 3:42 PM on November 1, 2009


You should just end your tenancy. Anything that happens from then on between Mark and "guest" is not your problem.
posted by randomstriker at 3:58 PM on November 1, 2009


Legal issues aside, I think you should consider anonymously letting your ex-boyfriend's roommate that they have been getting ripped off. Unless, of course, they're grade-A douche bags, as it seems your ex might be. Good luck.
posted by elder18 at 4:01 PM on November 1, 2009


Why are you relying on Mark to reimburse you for the rent? Why can't you stop paying, since it sounds like Mark and guest have the rent covered?
posted by jacalata at 4:07 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


i cannot imagine any kind of scenario that has you continuing to pay rent. just let the landlord know you're out of there, and stop forking over any cash. whatever problems your ex has are his alone. mention to your landlord that you already have a sublessor, and that mark is handling it. get letter from the tenant (or even an email or something where he acknowledges that he's paying your ex to back you up.
posted by lester at 4:37 PM on November 1, 2009


I'm not sure how your ex did not tell you about the new tenant. And I'm also pretty sure that your ex is taking his free ride with the expectation that you will eventually figure it out, and stop paying rent.

IANYL:

When you stop paying rent, there is typically a duty to mitigate - meaning that the landlord can't just let place go unrented until the lease is up. I do not know if that is true in your jurisdiction or not. The point is, if the landlord has access to a paying tenant, but chooses not to take payment from them, and instead chooses to just hold you liable for the unpaid rent, then the landlord has breached its duty to mitigate and you could be held nonliable for the unpaid rent.

There are a lot of caveats to the duty for a landlord to mitigate (again, this may not be the case in Ontario).

Not sure if this helps. I'm pretty sure I'd stop paying rent in this situation, but that has nothing to do with legalities. It would be a matter of principle.
posted by jabberjaw at 5:11 PM on November 1, 2009


Why are you relying on Mark to reimburse you for the rent? Why can't you stop paying, since it sounds like Mark and guest have the rent covered?

i cannot imagine any kind of scenario that has you continuing to pay rent. just let the landlord know you're out of there, and stop forking over any cash.

I am not a lawyer, but I am an experienced renter in Canada (though in BC, not ON).

Until Ms. Anonymous ends her tenancy, she is legally liable for a portion of the rent. If Mark keeps the rent that he receives from his "guest", there's not much that Ms. Anonymous can do about it.

The part that I'm confused about is the "guest" being considered a guest. I would think that all leaseholders must consent to a guest's presence, otherwise Ms. Anonymous would have the right to expel him. Perhaps an informed legal opinion (despite what the Police Officer said) is necessary.
posted by randomstriker at 5:14 PM on November 1, 2009


Most importantly: document everything and save it.

Based on the documents linked above, it sounds like you might be able to work with the landlord and the "guest" to assign the tenancy, since you have (and should have) no intention of returning to the rental unit.

The "guest" may be (and should be) more willing to do this since he will be able to pay the landlord directly and not worry about getting his money lost in what he perceives to be part of the messy breakup. It'll also save him a few bucks every month.

That said:

I think your legal beef in this is with Mark. If the other players are unwilling to work something out, it's you and Mark that are the ones legally obligated to resolve the situation.

Unfortunately, the lost money is probably is lost, unless you take it to the mats.
posted by pokermonk at 5:28 PM on November 1, 2009


Can you arrange to sub-lease your part (maybe to a co-operative friend) and then see what happens when that friend tries to move in? If Mark and the guest don't allow it, seek help from landlord/other authorities.

Strike deal with Mark to cancel your new sub-lease, allow guest to stay and you drop payments.
posted by Xhris at 6:40 PM on November 1, 2009


From the original poster:
1. As for ending the tenancy, I've already submitted my two months notice. However, as far as I know, my name is still on the lease until the end of that 2 month period and I'm still liable for any damages caused until then.

2. I actually already did notify the new roommate about him being ripped off. The first time we spoke, I left him know the actual amount of the rent/bills.

3. randomstriker's post basically mirrors how I feel. I'm afraid that the new roommate's rent won't be passed on to the landlord and I don't want to be held liable for that - hence my not wanting to stop paying rent. I was pretty confused about the whole "guest" thing too.

4. I've been trying to make some kind of agreement with Mark or with the new roommate, but neither wants anything to do with that. The new roommate doesn't want to have any kind of sublet agreement on the basis that "it's only a few months" until the lease ends and that he'd be able to get his name on the actual lease (the lease I have with Mark ends December 31st).
posted by mathowie at 7:34 PM on November 1, 2009


Give your manager a WRITTEN notice that you are moving out. Give a date that you will be "out" of the apartment (even though you already ARE). You should state that Mark will still be living in the apartment, and will be responsible for ALL costs related to the address from the date you list. After that day, you should STOP PAYING! You can TRY to get Mark to sign that notice, but you don't have to.

When I moved out from my ex, I gave 30 day's notice, as was required in California. I wasn't legally responsible for any damages or costs from the date of my move out, and they couldn't come after me when my ex left them in the lurch!

In most states, that is enough to cover your butt. You might also publish it in a newspaper that you are no longer responsible for any damages or costs related to the address. It could help with any legal action in the future...

You might ask the landlord if they would accept a backdated notice, since you had already moved out, and ask if they will do a damage walkthrough. Offer them 50% of any damage costs they find, and they'll be really happy with you!
posted by Jinx of the 2nd Law at 9:31 PM on November 1, 2009


My impression of your question is that it sounds like you are trying to make life as painful for Mark as possible. If I were you, I would just call him up (or email him if things are bad) to tell him that:

You are aware that he's found someone that has been paying for your room, so the fair thing to do would be to reimburse you for those months that he has been collecting rent.

That's it.

he insisted on paying the money directly to Mark and having Mark pay the money to me - despite the fact that Mark had shown himself to be a bit of a scam artist.

If you were in his place, would you pay the guy who lives with you, or some random girl who might or might not pay the landlord? I would do the same thing he's doing.

So, now I'm left with having someone living in the room that I'm currently paying for...

That's obviously unfair, and Mark should definitely be covering your half.

...I'm worried that I'll be liable for any damage caused by the new roommate.

Do you really think they will take you to small claims court over damages to the apartment? No, this is completely irrational.

Is there any suggestions for having this person removed

This is unrealistic.

or forcing them to pay me for the room that I am renting?

The real answer is that Mark shouldn't be charging you.

Also, the new roommate is a recipient of government disability and both Mark and the new roommate signed a form falsely indicating that the total rent paid to the landlord was more than it really was (although the new roommate didn't know this at the time). If I fail to report this, would I be considered an accessory to fraud?

This is crazy.

The easiest way to solve this is through Mark and appealing to his sense of decency and fairness. Try to avoid threats (lawyers, divulging the total expenses to the other guy, etc.) and irrational worries (damage to the apartment, the possibility that you're an accessory to fraud.) Stick to the very plain fact: he is collecting rent for your room, so you shouldn't be paying for it.

Good luck.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:41 PM on November 1, 2009


More thoughts: I dunno about Ontario, but certainly in British Columbia and Alberta tenancy disputes are most often adjudicated in favour of the tenant. Many friends and acquaintances of mine let out their property and they all complain about how hard it is to get money out of deadbeat renters, even when they go through the various municipal or provincial authorities.

So strictly speaking you are legally liable for the next two month's rent, but if you just stopped paying then most likely:

a) the landlord would kick up a huge fuss and threaten to take you court, etc...but not bother in the end; or

b) if you wind up in court/arbitration, the judge/arbitrator would work out some sort of reasonable compromise between all parties once you explained all the sordid details of your story (especially if you back it up with a thorough papertrail).

Furthermore, if Mark wants to carry on living where he's living, it's probably in his interest to maintain smooth relations with the landlord and hand over the buried treasure.

My (completely amateur) suggestion is just stop paying the rent and take your chances.
posted by randomstriker at 11:19 PM on November 1, 2009


"Do you really think they will take you to small claims court over damages to the apartment? No, this is completely irrational."

They could still trash her credit and rental history. So yes, she should worry until her name is off the lease and she has some sort of final statement from the landlord showing that she is done and owes nothing.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:24 PM on November 1, 2009


They could still trash her credit and rental history. So yes, she should worry until her name is off the lease and she has some sort of final statement from the landlord showing that she is done and owes nothing.

They could only do this in some theoretical world where people try to screw each other for absolutely no reason.

The landlord knows that she is moved out and that any damage to the apartment that wasn't reported when she moved out is not her doing. So why would he go to the trouble of trashing her credit and rental history? The landlord has nothing to gain by doing this, and only a lot of time to lose.

You're right Jacqueline that she should try to get off the lease ASAP, but going through Mark is the easiest way to do that. The landlord is not going to want her name off the lease since she is paying so dutifully.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 11:52 PM on November 1, 2009


I agree with randomstriker, except you should really try to solve this problem diplomatically first. If you just stop paying rent, you are going to cause yourself and the other people a lot of drama. Early diplomacy pays dividends.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 11:58 PM on November 1, 2009


They could still trash her credit and rental history.

Like I said, this is rare in Western Canada, certainly much less common than in the United States. Maybe Eastern Canada is different, but I doubt it.

First of all, landlords can't unilaterally sic a collection agency on deadbeat renters. Disputes must be lodged through municipal or provincial authorities (typically a Residential Tenancy Board/Association), which usually go to arbitration. Like I said, this system is incredibly lenient on tenants (unfairly so, in my view).

Second of all, only the largest residential property management companies in Canada interface with credit ratings bureaus. Your mom+pop basement suite landlord? Fuhgeddaboutit. I've rented a lot of different places in Vancouver and a couple in Toronto, and I've always had a huge edge over all the other applicants because I was the only one who ever provided a credit report. Most people don't even know what they look like.

Obviously she won't receive a good reference from this landlord, but there are ways to work around that.
posted by randomstriker at 1:19 AM on November 2, 2009


Since you are paying 50% and you are on the lease it is still your apartment. Show up with some stuff that you don't mind losing (cheap sheets from goodwill etc) and move back into your room. Move guest's belongings out of the room you are paying for. His dispute is with Mark renting an already occupied room, not with you. Bring a friend and a copy of lease (in case Mark threatens to call the police you have proof of your legal right to occupancy). Now see if Mark is more flexible about paying your back rent. Of course, this is drama, but if being nice ain't working...
posted by saucysault at 3:32 AM on November 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


I agree with "moving back in" - show up with some bags, put a new lock on your bedroom door, come and go at odd/random hours, etc. If they bust the lock and you come in at some point call the cops and tell them someone is sleeping in your bed and won't leave. The "guest" won't put up with paying for such a situation for long.
posted by mikepop at 6:47 AM on November 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


I wonder why you have to give two months notice if there is already someone who is taking over your room?
Go to the landlord - tell them you broke up with your boyfriend and want to terminate the lease immediately. In BC at least any one person on the lease can end the lease and start a new one (or at least this is what happened to me) - if they say no, you owe to the end of December then pay them directly the two months rent - don't go through Mark. Don't give any more money to Mark.
Then go to Mark and demand the money he collected/will collect from the "guest" - if he declines point out that he and his new roommate are committing fraud by lying on the disability forms and you are willing to turn them in.
If he still refuses turn them in - (to whatever government agency they sent the forms) -or you or a friend move into your room for the rest of the lease.
posted by smartypantz at 8:03 AM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


You are right that since you are on the lease, you are responsible for paying the rent. The guy should be subletting from you and paying rent to you. Since he is not, he has no right to occupy your room. You have given your two months' notice. Good. Now tell him that you are moving back in in three days and he will have to vacate your room in that time. He has no agreement with you, so he has no right to be in your room. He can continue to live in the apartment as a guest - sleep on the couch, whatever. But he's not staying in your room. The only way that you will not move back in is if you are paid first and last months' rent, plus back rent owing. He has been paying money to Mark; that's between him and Mark. You haven't been seeing any of that. So if he wants to get that money back from Mark to pay you, he can. The cops you spoke to are idiots. No one has a right to sleep in your room without your permission. Put a padlock on the door and check back once a day to make sure it's in place. If it isn't, call the cops. Enlist your two biggest male friends to help you out with this.
posted by Dasein at 8:38 AM on November 2, 2009


Immediate assignments can only happen with the consent of the landlord, otherwise the 2-months notice still applies. Whether out of ignorance or sheer laziness, the landlord does not seem to have consented to Ms. Anonymous assigning the lease to "guest".
posted by randomstriker at 8:47 AM on November 2, 2009


This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Get your landlord over there to straighten this out and get them a new lease. Call the cops on the stranger in your room.

I would not pay one more red cent. They would have to sue me, and good luck.
posted by xammerboy at 11:44 AM on November 2, 2009


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