This isn't like War of the Roses, more akin to Fatal Attraction
January 12, 2012 5:34 AM   Subscribe

Finally moving to my new house Friday! This is coinciding with a nasty breakup with a very unreasonable woman. She's unstable and deploying some very low, tacky, petty moves. We share an apartment that's going away at the end of the month and I need some best practices to help this deployment.

Best practices with a breakup when you share an apartment? Mr. the Woods is in a sticky situation.

I've been in a rental for half-a-decade which is under my name, although we put the name of my girlfriend on the lease in Summer 2011. She pays 1/4 of the monthly rent via a county assistance program which is sent directly to my property management company. I pay for every utility in this rental. Now we're breaking up.

She's gone completely off the rails and I need to get her, myself, my 3 cats and my possessions out of the rental. She has no money to assume the full rent payment or pay the deposit. January will be my final month in the rental, then the place goes back to the property management company. She's not going to sign a 30 Day Pay Rent or Quit form in her current vindictive state.

I'll be under a my roof this weekend and will be hiring professional movers next week for the heavy stuff. What are my options if she refuses to leave at the end of the month and decides to continue trying to occupy the rental? She's doing such downright frightening moves that I maintain a 5-foot radius away from her and have moved my pets and big-money possessions into my locked bedroom. Thank you.
posted by porn in the woods to Human Relations (34 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Have you explained the situation to your management company, that you two are going your separate ways? If so, quit the property and let them deal with her.
posted by xingcat at 5:51 AM on January 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Can't help much, but be sure to cancel the utilities that are in your name.
posted by murrey at 5:56 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


What do you mean by frightening? You need to get out of there sooner rather than later before she tries to get you arrested/charged for DV or straight up hurts you herself/injures herself, if I'm reading the right things into this.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:58 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you are afraid she is going to harm you or your pets, talk to a lawyer/the police about getting a restraining order. Men can get them too. With that in hand, inform the property management company that you have obtained one and are leaving immediately in order to comply, and are concerned that she may well damage the property in your absence. If it's in their best interest to end the lease, they'll end the lease. Also, do not hesitate to call the police and press charges if she damages any of your property or the house.

Cancel the utilities ASAP. She won't stay long in a cold dark house.

The absolute worst case scenario here is that she stays until the utilities are shut off and maybe just a tad longer, doesn't pay the rent, and eviction notice is given. Since you are already gone, they will just evict her. You'll owe the back-rent plus penalty though for however long she stays, since your name is on the lease.
posted by juniperesque at 6:01 AM on January 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


If nothing else, hire the movers now and save the date. Not sure how booked movers get, but it would suck to find out you have to wait another week or so.
posted by timsteil at 6:02 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ignore her. She's acting out and being manipulative.

Follow the advice above. Do everything you need to do to get your move sorted out.

Ignore her.
posted by carter at 6:07 AM on January 12, 2012


What do you mean by frightening?

On Tuesday she stuck a glass bottle underneath one of the rear tires of my car. As I backed out, it shot out into the street. Luckily, it didn't break or hit pedestrians or automobiles, but the intent of causing tire damage has got me very worried.

Monday, she attempted to take off with my car. I jumped into the driver's seat and asked her to return my car keys, which she refused. As I got out of the car, she stood on my feet and called me a 'son of a bitch.' As she's not giving my keys back, I headed out to the local hardware store to purchase The Club to keep my steering wheel and gas petal locked down. When I returned, there were two police in my apartment. I calmly unspooled the story, stating that she's taken off in my car overnight and I've had to track it down twice before New Year's. The police told my ex-girlfriend to keep away from my vehicle. She doesn't work for a living and is around the house all day, every day - I work full-time.

I'm taking the high road by ignoring her and avoiding common areas of the house as best I can.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:21 AM on January 12, 2012


I've spoken to the property management people, letting them know that this will be my last month. I'll be cancelling power, water/sewer, etc., today.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:23 AM on January 12, 2012


Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. If your ex-girlfriend is on the policy then explain the situation to your agent or the sales/service department and ask to remove your ex-girlfriend off of the policy.

If she does not have permission to drive your vehicle (but still chooses to do something with it such as drive off) then it would count as a total theft because you did not give her any permission to drive your vehicle (have this documented when you contact your agent or sales/service) and she isn't listed as a policy holder.

P.S. Sorry you have to deal with this! Definitely think about getting a restraining order.
posted by livinglearning at 6:34 AM on January 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Because I've known a few people who went through something similar...

Can you get the cats out of there as soon as possible? Take them to a friend's place-- anyplace would be safer than there. Unfortunately sometimes people target pets to strike at someone and I don't think a door can stop someone. You can worry about all the possessions later but just get them out of there.
posted by Wolfster at 6:39 AM on January 12, 2012 [25 favorites]


It may depend on where you live, but in my experience rental units in a large shared building don't ever have the utilities shut off. When the tenant whose lease is up calls to "shut them off" they get transferred into the landlord's name. The next tenant who moves in "turns them on" and they get transferred to the new name. The landlord pays the 2 weeks (or whatever) transition period, and if there's a problem, sends the bill to the tenant who "did it wrong". Worst-case scenario, you call to have the utilities shut off to help drive her out, but the lights stay on, she doesn't move out, the landlords don't get rent from her and are paying her utilities, and start trying to bill you for stuff. Not saying all the above ideas are bad, just saying don't count on the power actually getting shut off, and keep good communication with the landlords.

Make sure they know that you want her kicked out if she doesn't leave. There may be another month's rent involved, there may be loss of security deposit, there may be an early termination fee to make the lease really really over. It's not pleasant to think of paying the landlords to be on your side, but it probably works - just make sure they don't see you as having paid her rent so they don't have to kick her out.
posted by aimedwander at 6:41 AM on January 12, 2012


You keep referring to her as your girlfriend. You need to make the mental break and refer to her as your roommate or something other than girlfriend.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:46 AM on January 12, 2012


Does she know your moving date? And I'm assuming she does not have a job that keeps her away? You may wish to think about this if it might become a challenge.

When we got my stuff out of my abusive exspouse's premises it was while he was at work with the key I still had (having been helped to escape by a friend in the dark hours of the morning a few days previously) - I then shoved the key in teh mailbox.
posted by infini at 6:52 AM on January 12, 2012


If I were you, I would not assume your pets are safe, even if they're locked in your room. Either board them someplace you can visit (and give the staff notes that you don't have a girlfriend, just an ex who should not remove the cats; just in case she somehow gets the number / address), or get them to a friend's place.

The sooner you can get moved into your new apartment, the better. Perhaps keep stressing the 31st to her (to make it seem like there's more time for her to build the crazy), while the movers will come on some date sooner. As soon as you have access to the new location, move pets and big-money items there. If that isn't in the next few days, I'd seriously recommend a storage unit. Movers can fill and empty a storage unit so quickly that you might be able to have movers in on Friday/Monday to move to the unit, and then later have the same movers move from the unit to your new place for under 50% of the cost of moving from one apartment to the other.

As soon as police are involved with the person you're sharing living space with you need to stop sharing living space ASAP. If you have the $400-1000 it might cost extra to have everything out anywhere between today/tomorrow and that 16th instead of a few extra weeks I'd consider it worth it to not live under threat.
posted by nobeagle at 7:05 AM on January 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Talk to a lawyer about your rights as a soon-to-be former co-tenant. The 30 Day Notice is for evictions and doesn't require a signature, just that the document is served on the tenant lawfully. Either you are misinformed or drama-izing all Dof this. Quit shit stirring and get practical.

------

Best practice would be to treat your ex like a human being despite her behavior. I'm not advising you to be fake, nice, or to open yourself up for more drama. I am advising you to be civil towards her, and to be practical and responsible towards yourself.

She's about to be homeless. Yes, it's her fault, and she should be using this time to find new accommodations. However, right now you're making it easier for her to engage in revenge against you rather than engaging with reality. If you are at the point where you are locking all your stuff in your room, you should just move out. If she's been stealing your car since before New Year's, and she's still managed to get at your car keys this week, then you're not engaging with reality, either.

Not trying to be mean. Just pointing out you seem to be contributing to the problem.

Talk to a lawyer about your rights as a co-tenant. Talk to your management based on an your attorney's advice for your jurisdiction. You need to get out of that apartment and lease.

Call movers ASAP and put all of your stuff into storage. Stay with a friend. Leave a polite note informing ex that you've moved out and are off the lease, that she must make arrangements and contract her own utilities if she is to stay on in the flat.

I'm not sure how you and your ex ended up here, but the quicker you move out and give her space to deal with her emotions, the better for both of you. If you stay, expect more retaliation. Choosing to stay one more day in that apartment is exactly the type of shit stirring I suggested you avoid earlier, btw. If you get with reality and stop adding any fuel to the fire it'll turn out OK. If you want more of the same, stick it out, stay uninformed about how to vacate lawfully, and continue the tit-for-tat games with your ex until the month's out.

Your choice.
posted by jbenben at 7:10 AM on January 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


Do not underestimate a person who is acting like this: the swing from love to vengence is a very short one.

Leases and contract terms are for times of calm and civility - when there is a fire ablaze in the house, you run out the fucking door.
posted by Kruger5 at 7:19 AM on January 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


OP, I hope you plan to get a restraining order AFTER you've completely moved out. Moving all of your possessions and yourself out of that environment will end the threat you are facing faster than any document can.
posted by jbenben at 7:25 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow. Two months ago I had a male friend going through a nearly identical situation. What worked for him was calling the police and filing a report ASAP. They later came out to their shared rental and asked her to leave the premises while he was able to move his stuff out.

If you can get another place to live lined up quickly, I suggest doing this. If not, maybe you can crash on a friend's couch and move your stuff into a storage facility until you find a place to live without her.

If this were me, I'd seriously be limited by my available funds. If you can't afford this, maybe ask friends/family for a short term loan? Maybe ask a friend with a garage if they can hold some boxes for you until you're able to move in. Good luck.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:26 AM on January 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


The suggestion that you board the animals somewhere is good. You won't be imposing on friends or family and you'll be pretty confident that your pets are warm and fed and not escaping and getting lost, because that's what a place that boards animals for a fee has to do. Well-meaning friends can lose your pets when nervous pets bolt for doors and windows, and friends can become angry when your pets piss and shit all over their stuff.

After you take care of the pets, take your most valuable or irreplaceable items out of the place by yourself if you can and put them where she can't find them. You can replace a few dumbass CDs or DVDs, but you can't replace one-of-a-kind pictures and so on. Grab the things you would miss forever if there were a fire.

And then work on the replaceable items. If you can get movers to come in and take the stuff now, do that. You need to leave her with just her stuff as soon as possible. If there's stuff you don't really need, let her keep it. If there's anything with debatable or 50-50 ownership, don't debate it, just let her have it (assuming she wants it). Cut your losses and run. It's one way of simplifying your life.

But also remember that she's not a crazy character from a movie, she's the woman you used to love. Do right by her, even if she seems set on hurting you.
posted by pracowity at 7:29 AM on January 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


I went through this exact situation and it was toxic, abusive, harmful, and downright sucked. Whenever emotions are involved, people can become complete loose cannons, even if you think they would never be capable of doing something horrific.

Get the cats out first. If she asks about them, just tell her that you need them to not be underfoot. Have them stay with a trusted family member/friend/board them if you have to. If she's at the point where she's attempting damage (e.g. your car) I would not trust her to not do something to the kitties.

Go directly to the police station and request a restraining order prior to the move. This will prevent her from further crazy, damaging your possessions (possibly) and (quite potentially) doing something crazy and/or damaging to you. Again, I know that you dated and lived together and yaddayadda, but again, people do crazy things that are out of character in the face of an emotional breakup. The restraining order will also help because it will require her to move out/force her to move on and give you the peace and peace of mind that you can safely move out/onward without her being there.

Once you move, extend the restraining order if she knows where you are moving to - this is for the same reasoning as before. My situation didn't come to that, but I HAVE dated others guys who I didn't necessarily live with, but knew where I lived and upon breakup, left all sorts of shit on my doorstep. Sure, that's not a huge deal, but she sounds like a bomb ready to go off. Proceed with caution and don't think that some of these measures are too harsh. You need to protect you above all else.
posted by floweredfish at 7:45 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's what a friend of mine did.

He called the non-emergency police line before he went over, explaining what he was doing (getting his valuables) and that his girlfriend would be at work while they did it. He also had three friends present when he went. The police didn't do anything at the time.

He, his lawyer friend, and two other friends went over to the apartment, gathered up his stuff and stashed it at one of his friends' house while she was at work. Sure enough, the girlfriend called the cops right after they left, claiming they entered the apartment violently and threatened her. The cops explained that my friend had called earlier, explained what he was doing, and suggested they would call her employer to find out if she was indeed at home at the time of the "threats." My friend even had the sense to tell the cops who the employer was and their phone number, so they had it off-hand.

In the end, she dropped the charade, and he got his stuff out okay. If you can find a time when you know she won't be home, I would suggest giving a pre-emptive heads up to the local police and they can guide you on your best course of action.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 7:46 AM on January 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


What are my options if she refuses to leave at the end of the month and decides to continue trying to occupy the rental?

If you've terminated your lease, this is the problem of the landlord or management company, and by extension, the sheriff.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:54 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the help - this is my first time dealing with this mess. Got it all under control.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:08 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Best practice would be to treat your ex like a human being despite her behavior. I'm not advising you to be fake, nice, or to open yourself up for more drama. I am advising you to be civil towards her, and to be practical and responsible towards yourself.

This is absolutely the way to go. As she gets meaner I get kinder. This is a woman I once loved. I had hoped to continue a friendship post-breakup. However, but I can't be friends (let alone date, let alone live with) with someone who calls the cops over chickenshit nonsense more often that I wash my hair.
posted by porn in the woods at 9:05 AM on January 12, 2012


I should mention that she pulled the same shit as Rodrigo Lamaitre's friend's ex did. He was only able to move out a car's worth of stuff in the first move with the cops present. After things settled down a couple of days later, they worked out (through his lawyer) a time when he could go back and finish moving his stuff. Luckily, he brought the paperwork.

Sure enough, he showed up, starting moving his stuff, and she called the cops with a report of someone breaking into her house. She was parked down the block with her mom, watching the house, waiting for him to fall into her trap.

Like I said, he had e-mails from her where she said it's OK for him to pick up the rest of his stuff at a specific time and day, and there he was. The cop saw through the bullshit, but still, be wary.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:14 AM on January 12, 2012


If you've terminated your lease, this is the problem of the landlord or management company, and by extension, the sheriff.

OP: You marked this as best answer but I don't think you should have.

I mean, it's literally true. But "terminating your lease" is the sticking point. It's possible your lease isn't considered terminated until the apartment is vacated. If your ex is still in the apartment it won't be considered vacated and you may well be on the hook for the rent.

My guess is that since your name is still on the lease you're gonna be on the hook if she squats.
posted by Justinian at 10:37 AM on January 12, 2012


As soon as police are involved with the person you're sharing living space with you need to stop sharing living space ASAP

This covers it. There should be public service announcements everywhere saying this.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:38 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you've terminated your lease, this is the problem of the landlord or management company, and by extension, the sheriff.

OP: You marked this as best answer but I don't think you should have.

I mean, it's literally true. But "terminating your lease" is the sticking point. It's possible your lease isn't considered terminated until the apartment is vacated. If your ex is still in the apartment it won't be considered vacated and you may well be on the hook for the rent.

My guess is that since your name is still on the lease you're gonna be on the hook if she squats.


Check the landlord/tenant laws in your state to see if this is applicable. I see you are in California - you can check the Landlord-Tenant Book (put out by the CA Department of Consumer Affairs) and here is a link to HUD's publication on tenant rights. California tenant law also varies from city to city so you might want to check out your particular city's codes.

If Ex continues to squat after you have terminated your tenancy in writing, then it might be worth a consultation with a lawyer to see if you are still on the hook for rent and utilities that Ex runs up, and if so, how to deal with that.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:20 PM on January 12, 2012


>Get the cats out first. If she asks about them, just tell her that you need them to not be underfoot. Have them stay with a trusted family member/friend/board them if you have to. If she's at the point where she's attempting damage (e.g. your car) I would not trust her to not do something to the kitties.

Absolutely. Your ex is lashing out at you for leaving, and the closer you get to actually moving out of the place where you lived together, the more she's going to lash out.

Your situation reminds me of this question, and here's the advice that I gave then:

As an animal person, I totally get your desire to protect your pets along with yourself. This site includes information about including pets in your exit plan:

* Establish ownership of the pets: obtain an animal license, proof of vaccinations or veterinary receipts in your name to help prove who owns the pets
* Prepare the pets for departure (collect vaccination and medical records, collar and identification, medication, bowls, bedding, etc.).
* Ask for assistance from law enforcement or animal care and control officers to reclaim the pets if left behind.


If you can't find a friend or place to board your kitties, here's a state-by-state directory of programs that provide safe havens for animals belonging to people in situations like yours.
posted by virago at 12:44 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


OP needs to consult an attorney before he talks to his management!

The reason for this is two-fold, (a) a lazy or greedy landlord might tell the OP he's on the hook and that he has to evict ex, which is likely not how it works under the law, and (b) OP wants to do EVERYTHING by the book, especially concerning his shared lease with ex.

Former CA landlord here, also did some management for others. There is no tenants rights org that will give you accurate info here, personally, I wouldn't even call my landlord association's legal hotline for a clarification on this. Well meaning lay people give the worst "opinions" about who is responsible for what in this type of situation depending on their personal biases. I know because I've had to track down accurate information about sticky legal situations both as an owner and a tenant.

OP. You need a $200 (might be less) consult with an attorney who specializes in landlord tenant cases to help you navigate this sticky legal situation successfully. Trust me a thousand times on this, save yourself thousands of dollars, spend a few hundred to do this cleanly and lawfully.

My best case scenario for you is the landlord releases you from the lease obligation (have you given written 30 days notice? then you're halfway there) and.... I dunno. Lawyer. A lawyer will know.

Get thee legal counsel, right after you set up that appointment with the movers!

Go!
posted by jbenben at 12:48 PM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Listen to jbenben. Most of what people have posted here, including myself, are guesses. Do you want to base your decisions on random internet guesses?
posted by Justinian at 12:56 PM on January 12, 2012


Do you have renter's insurance? Does it cover damage to the unit caused by you or your guests?

Just curious.
posted by jbenben at 1:01 PM on January 12, 2012


I just got keys to the new house, moved the 3 kitties over on my lunch hour and everything's great! We can all breathe easy, I'm safe, kitties are happy... and here's my 4-legged crew: Mookie | Eli | MoMo

The ex was out waiting for a cab, dunno where she's headed, but it's no longer my problem.

WHEW.

posted by porn in the woods at 1:09 PM on January 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


I just got keys to the new house, moved the 3 kitties over on my lunch hour and everything's great!

Good to hear it, for both you and your elegant feline posse.
posted by virago at 1:48 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


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