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Panty stealer!
October 24, 2007 1:05 PM   Subscribe

My roommate is trying to get me evicted. Does she have grounds? Furthermore, what actions can I take?

I'll try to make this as brief as possible, but as a warning, it is long.

I signed a one-year lease agreement for a two-bedroom apartment in a residential duplex. The landlord owns the entire property and lives on the upper two floors of the house. She rents out the bottom to us. I did not know my roommate previously. She had lived there a year before I moved in.

Things were fine the first month or so. I was casually involved with a man who would occasionally stay the night. By occasionally, I mean once per week -- at the very most 2 nights. My guest would come over around 10:30 or 11 PM and come immediately to my bedroom. He came over at these hours due to late work hours. We would quietly talk, watch movies, and such. We were always respectful and never in the “common areas” (i.e. living room, dining room, kitchen). I never introduced him to my roommate at this point because she would be in bed by then. Also, the nature of our “relationship” at this point was non-exclusive and how do you say? A casual hook-up.

At the end of August, my roommate brought up that she felt uncomfortable with my casual hook-up coming over late at night. I sympathized with her and asked her what I could do in which she responded with, “I don’t know.” I said I would try to deal with it. Due to a combination of personal issues as well as her concern, I ended things with him.

Several weeks later, my “hook-up” and I ended up working things out. He ceased to be my hook-up any longer and became my full-fledged boyfriend. His visits increased to approximately 2-3 times per week, always at the aforementioned late hours, always when she was already in bed. Nothing more was said on her part.

I would like to point out that I am rarely at home because of the somewhat grueling 60-80 hour workweeks that I keep. I’d also like to point out that I am rarely in the common area and mostly in my bedroom – working or playing on my computer, reading, et cetera. I have had two of my female friends over, aside from my boyfriend. I have introduced them both and asked for permission to have them stay. We have mostly contained ourselves to the outdoor porch. She has had various visitors over; a week previous she had a male “friend” visit and stay with us for six days. I was given notification prior to his visit but never formally introduced. She has had two male friends without notification over while I was there and I was never formally introduced. I am bringing this up not because I have a problem with this, but because of the exact opposite. I did not then nor do I now care that I was never introduced.

On Friday morning, my roommate stuck a note on my door informing me that she needed to talk to me sometime this weekend. I worked the entire weekend accruing roughly 35 hours. I did not have the opportunity to speak with her, let alone sleep. I have my timesheets available.

Anyway, on Tuesday night I had my boyfriend come over for the night. He showed up around midnight and came through the front entrance. We were quietly talking when we were interrupted by a loud knock on my door. She demanded that I come out. She then informed me if I did not she would call the police. In my estimation a minute passed as I was putting on my pants and she was on the phone with the police.

The police showed up and my roommate started accusing my boyfriend, who at this point was out in the living room area with us, of “breaking and entering.” She accused me of sneaking him in and out through the side door (we both had no idea where the side door was) and said that she had eyewitnesses. She said I had been sneaking him through my window. I admit that in the past, this was true on several occasions. It was easier and less noisy than having him come through the front door. She said she feared for her safety. She said that she was missing five pairs of underwear and accused my boyfriend or some other random stranger that I somehow let in of stealing them. She said that at one point I had left my bedroom screen and window open all night long. I admit I did that. I had forgotten to close it. She accused me of having multiple men over, which I denied. It quite simply is not true. She said she thought I was suicidal, which I am not.

I was calm and informed the police that I pay half the rent, this was my boyfriend, and he entered through the front door. He comes over at late hours because of the job he has. The police said that I should be more careful about locking the window and that one of us should probably start looking for a new place to live. When the police left, my boyfriend and I went out on the porch and had a cigarette. Since the police never told him to leave and I felt having him leave would admit that I was in the wrong, he came back in. We waited in the kitchen/entry way so I could speak with her. She was on the phone with her mother and standing in the hall. She said I was trying to sneak him in. I replied that no, I was not. We were waiting for her to get off the phone so we could speak with her. She got off her phone and said something along the lines of fearing for her safety and trying to get me evicted, in which I would be forced to find a replacement for myself.

I responded with a very tired, “Good night” and went into my bedroom with my boyfriend. We promptly fell asleep but awoke a bit later to her answering the door. She had someone over and we assume this person came over to “protect” her. In the morning, she had her parents over. I overheard her saying that she had spoken to one of the landlords (there are 2 joint landlords for our place). She told her parents that he was getting the papers for my eviction. Furthermore, she was speaking to a lawyer at some point as well. I told me co-worker and my boss over the phone and they basically laughed and said she had no grounds. My boyfriend said that she has no grounds and if they do try to evict me, I will have a 30-day notice. As we were leaving, her parents stood on the porch watching us.

I’ve tried to contact my landlord via email and cell phone. She has not responded. I have called several numbers for tenant’s rights but have not been able to speak to anyone. I stumbled upon a copy of this letter for a renter’s rights for guests. I’ve read up on the eviction process and found this web site. I also perused the lease. The only term that the lease states that I am somewhat worried about is this: “RESIDENT PROMISES: 1) Not to act in a loud, boisterous, unruly, or thoughtless manner or disturb the rights of the others in any way that is illegal or dangerous or which would cause cancellation, restriction, or increase in premium in Management’s insurance..”

My questions are as follows: Does she have grounds to pursue my eviction from the place? If so, what should I expect? What can I do to equip myself for this upcoming eviction battle? Do you think I will be evicted and if so, what is that process like? What should I do?


Thanks!
posted by fiasco to Law & Government (43 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
On one hand, it sounds like she probably doesn't have grounds.

On the other hand, STOP RIGHT NOW AND GET A LAWYER. Right this instant. None of us will be telling you anything that will be actual real legal advice, and that's what you need.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:09 PM on October 24, 2007


Is there anything in your lease about houseguests?
posted by craven_morhead at 1:11 PM on October 24, 2007


What should you do? Get the hell out of there. Don't wait to get dragged into court or into further bullshit with her. Just get out of there. Would you even want to live 30 more days with someone this batshit insane?

It doesn't matter if you are right and she is wrong. It only matters that she would appear to be a whackjob. Life is too short. Move out and move on.
posted by veggieboy at 1:11 PM on October 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


No offense, but it seems to me that getting out of the same living area as someone that crazy would be the best thing that could happen to you. Telling the police you're suicidal? WTF? that would be bad enough if you actually were....

I don't think she has grounds. And document EVERYTHING, just in case.
posted by Rabulah at 1:14 PM on October 24, 2007


I would but I signed a year lease. I'm assuming there would be repurcussions with my renter history, et cetera. Oh, and we don't stay at his place because he lives with his best friend who runs a children's daycare.
posted by fiasco at 1:14 PM on October 24, 2007


eponysterical, btw.

you should GTFO as quickly as possible. she is batshit insane and it's not worth fighting this fight.
posted by gnutron at 1:15 PM on October 24, 2007


The tenants groups will be able to tell you what to do -- keep calling. In my jurisdiction, it would be very difficult to evict on the above facts. Whatever happens eviction-wise, one of you will have to move out. If eviction is difficult in your jurisdiction, you may want to offer to move in exchange for something (e.g. $$) as part of the deal. She sounds bats.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 1:16 PM on October 24, 2007


PS If someone agrees to move out, the remaining person will have to find a replacement roommate. The lease will (almost certainly) be modified accordingly. So don't let the fact of the lease seem like some kind of un-changeable barrier -- people get out of leases all the time by finding replacement tenants.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 1:18 PM on October 24, 2007


I think both of you did some things you could have handled better, but mostly, why would you want to stay in a situation like this? The annoyance and cost of moving is a steal compared to staying in a place where the other person actively dislikes you. She's been there a year, so clearly the landlords would rather keep her.

Just move out.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:20 PM on October 24, 2007


I would imagine your landlord would rather end your lease prematurely without penalty to you than see her tenants at each others throats and involved in a big eviction battle.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:22 PM on October 24, 2007


Yipes, sounds sooo much like someone I lived with before...she went on a raging fit calling me a slut because I'd had guy friends over. Your profile says you're a grad student, I bet your school has a legal assistance department that can help you.
posted by radioamy at 1:22 PM on October 24, 2007


I would be out of there in a heartbeat. You are working so many hours, hopefully you are getting overtime. Tell her you will pay the rest of this month and next month and skedaddle! Just get it in writing. She is loony and wants to drag some people down with her.
posted by ian1977 at 1:23 PM on October 24, 2007


Oh, fiasco, your name is sadly fitting.

So, I hope it goes without saying that if a future roommate leaves a note on your door saying she needs to talk to you, and this roommate has previously acted more than a tad controlling and/or insecure, you will leave a note back for her letting her know that you'll be talking to her at x day and time and NOT just disappear into your (clearly very demanding) work schedule for 3 days. Care and feeding of needy roommates is essential and a little goes a long way.

Right, on to your current problem - your roommate is crazy, insecure, paronoid and immature. (She called her her parents to come over? Is she 16?) You absolutely need to speak to a lawyer, and right now, if for no other reason than to have solid facts with which to arm yourself in the event that you decide to reason with your roommate. Tenant's rights orgs are a good place to start, but getting any lawyer in real estate law to look over your lease and listen to the event timeline is going to go a long way toward easing your mind, I'd guess.

And may, just maybe, consider moving? Your roommate is a lot of trouble. And given that you and she haven't established the pattern of communication that healthy shared housing is built on, I don't hold out hope that you guys can talk this through now that it's been escalated to whispered conversations and parent and cop-calling.

Talk to a lawyer, search for a new place, and having frequent, friendly and detailed conversations with any potential new roommates.
posted by minervous at 1:25 PM on October 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


I would say your chances of being evicted are very low.

The problem is whether or not you have been allowing access to individuals who have committed crimes on the premises, as alleged. If the roommate can prove this to the UD judge, you may have a problem. However, this is extremely hard to prove, and the roommate should just install a lock on her door to secure the room in her absence.

Just because a landlord has ZERO basis for instituting a UD (unlawful detainer) action against you, doesn't mean they can't do it. Essentially they have to allege in the complaint that you're in breach of the lease, and I doubt your live-in landlord is that sophisticated.

I don't even think you need a lawyer, but if you're served with a UD complaint DON'T PANIC. Simply answer the complaint either by yourself or with the assistance of a tenant's rights organization in a calm and comprehensive manner.

Thing is that your roommate is probably closer with the landlord than you, so the landlord may act irrationally on this basis.

Finally you forgot the only piece of information that matters... WHAT STATE YOU ARE IN... the form you posted says MN, but that may be a mistake.

I don't think having guests over who are not engaged in illegal activity constitutes a material breach of the terms of the lease for purposes of an UD action. At least that is what I would tell a client in CA if they came to me with this problem.

This post should not be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship. Many facts are missing. Do not rely on this advice for any purpose and consult an attorney in your state to provide you with competent legal advice.
posted by Mr_Crazyhorse at 1:26 PM on October 24, 2007


Your roommate may well have some issues. I mean, calling the police because your boyfriend came over? WTF?

More likely she just doesn't want you there and is trying to get you booted by the landlord or make you leave voluntarily so she doesn't have to live with anybody for a while.

Personally, I would tell her in no uncertain terms that I pay half the rent, and if I want to have my SO over I will do so at any hour of my choosing. If she doesn't like it, she can either have a rational discussion with me about it or she can move. Period.

If anything, I wouldn't move because I wouldn't want to be on the hook for finding a replacement tenant. It's too much of a pain in the ass when you're not working 80 hours a week, but when you are? Nearly impossible.

I'm very surprised the police didn't give her an incredibly stern talking to about how she is not to use the police as a tool in her difficulties with a roommate. That's what they do around here when batshitinsane people call them and try to use them to harass others.
posted by wierdo at 1:27 PM on October 24, 2007


I am pretty sure your land lord will let you out of your lease early if your other roommate is making such a fuss.

Her ass sounds crazy. Run.
posted by chunking express at 1:36 PM on October 24, 2007


I would add that if the UD complaint alleges "illegal" activities on your part, state that the police came out and investigated, and concluded that NO illegal activities had take place.

That is of course, unless you've found out your new boyfriend is a panty thief!
posted by Mr_Crazyhorse at 1:52 PM on October 24, 2007


I would go ahead and start the process of moving out. Among other things, your (batshitinsane) roommate clearly wants you to leave, so you're doing her a favor. With this in mind, I'd be tempted to write her a note stating that a) you will move out in 30 days but b) since you are moving out at her request, she can find the new tenant. Then say that if you have to find the new tenant, well, it will take you much longer to move out and, in fact, maybe she had better get the eviction going. You could point out that clearly she has different ideas than you do on what constitutes an acceptable roommate, and you don't think you can find anyone up to her standards.

She can't evict you AFAIK; it's up to the landlords and it is not an easy or a short process. Also, try to talk to the landlord. If you're polite and cooperative and say that you'll leave without a fuss, they'll be much happier than if they have to evict you and it shouldn't reflect badly on your rental situation at all. IANAL, but it seems to me that this whole situation needs more common sense and general calm than legal action.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:02 PM on October 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Talk to your roommate. Say: If you will take over full responsibility for the rent, I will move out as soon as I can find a place.

If she agrees, talk to your landlord: I am really not getting along with ROOMMATE, and she agrees to take full responsibility for the rent if I move out. What paperwork do we need to fill out to change the lease around?

Then move out, ASAP, and leave the crazy woman behind.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 2:11 PM on October 24, 2007


you should GTFO as quickly as possible. she is batshit insane and it's not worth fighting this fight.

I agree. You might try negotiating with her so that you can leave and she will assume full responsibility for the lease and obtaining another roommate. It will be cheaper than lawyers etc. for her, as long as she can obtain a new roommate quickly. You might have to agree to keep the boyfriend out of the premises, until you move out. Either that or work it in reverse with her moving out. In any event you do not want to have to live with this woman for the rest of the year. Next thing you know she will be calling the police saying you stole her knickers or whatever, plant drugs in your room and call the police.
posted by caddis at 2:16 PM on October 24, 2007


get a copy of the police report. send the report to the landlord--i am assuming it will show that it was a totally unwarranted call.

tell your landlord that you are going to move at the first available opportunity, and that you would like your rent to be prorated to your move-out date.

if they don't agree, tell them you'll take them to small-claims court.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:44 PM on October 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Someone will know how to state this better than me, but you might want to get the roommate to agree that if she wasn't happy with you as a roommate, it's in her best interest to not have you find her a roommate.
posted by drezdn at 2:46 PM on October 24, 2007


I was in a situation with a batshit crazy roommate once upon a time. The third roommate (the most sane of all of us) gave me some very sound advice when I was pouting about having to move out of an apartment when I had done nothing wrong simply because the roommate was impossible to live with. She said, "Would you rather be right or happy?" Needless to say, I moved out pretty quickly after that.

And I don't think there will be any penalties for breaking the lease if you are asked to leave. And it will likely be her responsibility to find a new roommate.
posted by picklebird at 2:52 PM on October 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


You might consider a mediator - someone like this might be able to facilitate communication between you and your roommate. Here's a directory of mediators, but perhaps, if your roommate or landlord were to agree to this kind of solution, one of them would feel more comfortable if they were to locate/choose the mediator.
posted by amtho at 3:16 PM on October 24, 2007


I think you should move out, BUT... with the work schedule you mentioned, I can see why you would rather not. Which will take up more of your time though? Finding a new place (start packing now!), and moving in, or trying to stay there, while dealing with someone whom seems less than sane from the examples given?
posted by kellyblah at 4:10 PM on October 24, 2007


IANAL IAALandlord You absolutely need to talk to the landlord and the roomie, and see if you can be removed from the lease. Don't move out without getting that in writing, unless you get evicted, which probably removes you from the lease.

You should talk to the roomie, or write a note, asking if this is what roomie wants to have happen, i.e., taking over the full lease, and releasing you from responsibility for the rent. Then you and roomie get landlord to rewrite lease in roomie's name only.

I've had tenants with roommate issues. My response is always "work out your own issues, let me know what you're going to do, and make sure the rent gets paid." The landlord loses with you off the lease - that's one less person liable for rent, and the landlord has every legal right to say no, but in a case where landlord is on site, the answer is likely to be yes. If you get removed from the lease, get a copy of the new lease, or the revised lease, since roomie sounds like a nutcase, and mey get worse.
posted by theora55 at 4:10 PM on October 24, 2007


Have you talked to the landlord yourself, and explained the situation? That'd be my first plan of action, along with looking for a new place...
posted by sarcasticah at 4:25 PM on October 24, 2007


You're probably on the hook for the rest of the lease amount. My girlfriend's roommate when we first met went apeshit - it started with her complaining about me staying over *as she was eating the breakfast I cooked for both of them* (she'd never had a problem before that - how could she, since her b/f was over every night, all night- and, actually, had convinced my g/f to try online dating in the first place!) The nuttiness persisted, with multiple dogs' worth of waste not being cleaned up. When we tried to find a replacement, the roommate, who had previously explicitly said either sex was ok, refused to even consider him, then wouldn't even let any females in to look at the place! She finally had her father start harrassing my g/f via the phone for "forcing her to live with a man she doesn't know". My g/f tried to get out of the lease, but the landlord wouldn't let her.
posted by notsnot at 4:36 PM on October 24, 2007


As a renter, I broke FOUR different leases due to challenging room-mate situations. Other than not getting my deposits back, I never had much of a problem getting another place to rent.

I think something about your boyfriend made your roommate uncomfortable and that feeling spun out of control. She sounds unbalanced and like she is getting her friends and family on her side, which is really bad.

It is going to suck, but I think you need to try to manage a bit of time off work to go apartment hunting.
posted by pluckysparrow at 4:44 PM on October 24, 2007


Get a lawyer. Also you should speak with the landlord and find out what was said. I'd suspect that a whole bunch of lies were spread and that you will have to clear them up.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:17 PM on October 24, 2007


Move. This woman sounds crazy enough to actually be dangerous. No lease on earth is worth this.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:01 PM on October 24, 2007


I never quite understand why in these horrible living situations people are resistant to leaving; I've been there myself, not with roommates but an absolutely appalling college apartment. Life is too short to put up with misery. Document everything possible, break the lease, just walk out, whatever. But don't sacrifice your happiness and maybe even your wellbeing.

Get a copy of the police report and continue to attempt to contact the landlords. Leave a specific and detailed message outlining the situation and a time by which you expect to be contacted. Pursue avenues through your school, if you can.
posted by 6550 at 6:22 PM on October 24, 2007


If you are on a lease and she is on a lease, your landlord can't evict only you. However, your landlord can make an issue of your guest and it sounds like your roommate has already made it an issue.

Landlords don't want to get in the middle of roommate disputes. You are both fully accountable for the rent for the duration of the lease, meaning if you just move you are still on the hook for rent through the end of your lease.

I personally would not like a roommate bringing their guy over all the time, even if he is only in your room. I understand her not feeling safe, especially if your boyfriend was a casual hookup in the beginning. I had a roommate once who dated very casually and it was unnerving having strange men with access to the house and my room. I also don't thing you and the boyfriend-who-doesn't-pay-rent waiting for her to get off the phone was a really bad move on your part. If you want to talk to your roommate, fine, but having him standing there also made it an "us vs. you" situation. He doesn't have standing in that situation and you needed to talk to her privately or you need to move in with him and be a couple.
posted by 45moore45 at 7:15 PM on October 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


tell her cool you will move. As part of the move she has to assume all of the rent and take on full responsibility of the lease.
posted by bkeene12 at 7:25 PM on October 24, 2007


I personally would not like a roommate bringing their guy over all the time

Reality is that most roommates have to deal with this. It is the norm, not odd. People have lives, the room is not a nunnery, boyfriends will be there. Deal with it. If you can't get your own apartment, no roommate. That certainly is the message for fiasco's hopefully soon to be ex-roommate.
posted by caddis at 7:27 PM on October 24, 2007


If she goes over the top you could always take out a restraining order against her. She wouldn't be allowed in the apartment anymore, lease or not.

You'd need documentaion of craziness to get a restraining order against a non-romantic same sex roomate though.
posted by Justinian at 7:29 PM on October 24, 2007


You are not getting a restraining order against a roommate on these facts. Perhaps if she attacked with a weapon....
posted by caddis at 7:30 PM on October 24, 2007


You are not getting a restraining order against a roommate on these facts. Perhaps if she attacked with a weapon....

No, not on these facts. That's why I said "If she goes over the top". That doesn't sound likely but it does sound possible based on her past behavior.

I just think that breaking a lease is a bigger step than most people here are making it out to be. It's a signed contract. People have both a legal and a moral obligation to fulfill their end of the contract as long as the other party also does so. And the contract is with the landlord, not the other roommate.

So long as the landlord holds up his or her end of the bargain breaking the lease is a crappy way of handling the situation for everyone involved. If the landlord refuses to get involved with defusing the situation that may - depending on what the lease says - be something you could consider a violation of his or her end of the bargain, but just flat-out breaking the lease right now is a dick move.
posted by Justinian at 7:37 PM on October 24, 2007


To put it more directly; talk to your landlord. Assertively. But depending on what is in your lease it may well not be your landlord's problem.
posted by Justinian at 7:38 PM on October 24, 2007


[A couple comments removed. If you can't keep from calling other users dickwad, take it to mail or metatalk but don't do it here.]
posted by cortex at 8:22 PM on October 24, 2007


Since you signed a lease, you have full rights as a tenant. A tenant cannot evict another tenant, only the landlord can. (If you were on a sublease, then the sublessor roommate would be your landlord for legal purposes.) So you have to talk to your landlord.

Given the circumstances, I am pretty sure that a reasonable landlord would let you out of your lease. (I would.) If she won't, though, you need to make clear that you're going to do what you need to do. One possibility here is to simply call back the police officer on the call and have him talk to the landlord, in person if possible, and explain that he advised you to move out. You might even luck out in this process and convince the landlord that you're the better tenant and to find a way to get the other one out of there. Legally, though, if you move out you're on the hook.

Hardball tactics here could involve misrepresentation on the part of the landlord, especially if the same roomie has had multiple problems (seems likely, but you never know; ask around the complex). Ask your legal advice (lawyer, TRO) about the exact language in your lease and about your state's legal grounds for breaking leases (but short of personal safety being compromised you may have an uphill battle there).

The ideal situation would be for you and the landlord to team up on the other roomie, showing that you're being let out of your lease and she'll be responsible unless she finds someone else. But you may have to live with being the only pressure on her, and she'll hold more cards than you. Good luck.
posted by dhartung at 11:50 PM on October 24, 2007


I wont repeat what everyone has already said, but I will mention one thing: the goal here isn't to "evict" you, in the strictest of legal senses. The goal is to get rid of you and the unofficial third roommate - which she's going to succeed at, probably for the best for all of you.

I realize that people have guests. Even frequent guests. Even multiple frequent guests. This doesn't bother me from a moral standpoint, but from a respect standpoint. I know you went to pains to explain that you never introduced your roommate to this guy because of the timing problem, but there are a lot of other hours in the day and a lot of different ways to communicate.

In the future, to avoid an unnecessary replay of this or other roommate problems, you need to make sure that you communicate your expectations to your roommate early and often - and give them a chance to communicate theirs. The fact is that just because you both pay the rent doesn't mean that you both have 100% control over the apartment. And there are always going to be some compromises that are less than ideal. But its necessary to harmonious roommate living.
posted by greekphilosophy at 6:13 AM on October 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Due to a combination of personal issues as well as her concern, I ended things with him.

I think this may have been where your problems started. Roommate assumed that talking to you=guy removed=victory! and it got in her head that she has control over who you have over and when.

I can't speak to the law, but I can't imagine any situation where you would be both evicted and responsible for finding a roommate/paying rent. Why in the world would you be required to pay for a space you're not allowed to live in? I wouldn't move out immediately like others are suggesting, but wait for this "eviction" and use it as an excuse to walk. When it doesn't come (and it likely won't) reassess your options.
posted by almostmanda at 7:34 AM on October 25, 2007


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