She Needs to Go.
September 10, 2011 6:17 AM   Subscribe

I am in Pittsburgh, PA. My roommate went crazy last night after drinking a lot of wine. I want her out stat. What are my options? Urgent, please.

Me, my boyfriend, and a friend live in a 4-bedroom house. We decided to find another roommate for a few months from August - December. We found Ashley through a friend and she moved in on August 15th. Besides some dirty dishes/cleanliness problems, everything went fine since then. She was very nice.

Cut to last night. I came home around 12:45 to find her drinking wine on the couch, watching Youtube videos. She was slightly drunk but not terribly so. We laughed about some things and I went to bed.

At 3:30 AM, my friend (the third roommate) woke me up, extremely upset. She had found Ashley on the couch in her underwear only. She had brought Ashley to Ashley's bed, which was covered in vomit. She took the bedding off and gave Ashley a shower, telling her that she would stay with her.

Ashley became drunkenly abusive, hurling insults at me, my friend, and my boyfriend. She wasn't making much sense and was extremely loud. She repeated the same things over and over again, like how we all weren't 'real' and that were all punk ass bitches.

The cops were called about a half hour later. They showed up, observed the behavior, and told her to go to bed. They left. She refused to go to bed, saying she wasn't tired. She raved for a long time about my other roommates (who had gone upstairs) and then threatened to light cigarettes on the stove. I was too worried that she would burn the house down to leave her alone.

Now, her sister is here, having received a drunked voicemail at 4:30 AM.

Lease situation: me and my boyfriend are on a lease that expired in August. We have been living month-to-month. Emily and I have no lease between us - my former roommate found her on Craigslist, I believe.

She is between jobs and I don't expect to get (late) rent for September. Question: what is legally allowed? Her sister was confrontational, saying that we weren't allowed to make her leave before 30 days. 30 days seems very long. I am afraid to leave the house with her here alone for fear that she will destroy something. Her deposit was one month's rent ($300) and that would not be enough to cover more extensive damage.

She paid 1 month's deposit and August's rent. She has not yet paid September's and says she cannot until she gets paid on the last day of the month. I am anxious and worried about the safety of myself, my cat, my boyfriend, and my things.

Sorry for the long post. Any help is greatly appreciated.
posted by amicamentis to Human Relations (54 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Additionally: we rent the house from a local, family-owned LLC. They have been very good landlords, and I hate to tar our relationship with this drama. The direct owners live several blocks away.
posted by amicamentis at 6:19 AM on September 10, 2011

Call her parents. Seriously! Nothing like a good shaming to straighten someone out.

I still can't tell if she has a sublease or is even on any piece of paper to do with the lease. If she is not, which I suspect she is not, then give her a week and tell her you are being generous. You will have to check with your state's renter's laws, but if she is living there under no contract (and you are under a month to month contract- you did sign a month to month agreement, correct?!) then she won't have much recourse.
posted by TheBones at 6:53 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Agree with the above. You need to find some kind of non-legal solution to this if you want it to end fast. Legal methods will take time, and probably lead to further cost and pain in the long run. Plead/reason with her, talk to her friends/parents...
posted by ryanbryan at 7:03 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

(IANAL.) If you just want her gone, and she hasn't signed anything, throw her (and her stuff) out ASAP. If she tries to come back, call the police. She's unlikely to have the means/desire to take anything to the next level legally.
posted by Rykey at 7:15 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

You two sound incompatible.

I've seen people act like this in my University days, and I find it a bit excessive to call the cops on someone who is ranting. As for the stove and cigarettes; she had no lighter, she needed some source of fire, and no, you're not going to burn the house down doing this.

Kick her out. No more wine while she's there. Let her find a new place within a set time frame. It won't ever work out and when she wakes up she won't want to live with you either.

But don't be a dick to her.
posted by sleslie at 7:25 AM on September 10, 2011 [25 favorites]

(IANAL.) If you just want her gone, and she hasn't signed anything, throw her (and her stuff) out ASAP. If she tries to come back, call the police. She's unlikely to have the means/desire to take anything to the next level legally.

This may not be true. Please do not do this without finding out the renter's laws in your state.
posted by TheBones at 7:26 AM on September 10, 2011 [6 favorites]

If you're on a month-to-month lease, the quickest, cheapest, and most hassle-free remedy that stays within the bounds of legality. is probably for you, your boyfriend, and your cat to move out. If you'd rather stay, well, that's fine, but bear in mind that you're essentially balancing whatever risk this roommate poses to you against whatever cost & hassle you would incur in a move.

Also, from what I can tell it's illegal in the city of Pittsburgh for more than three unrelated people to be living in a single house. Cite. You may be opening up a can of worms if you try to pursue legal action against Ashley, especially if you & your boyfriend are the only ones who've signed a lease.

My personal opinion is, to be honest, close to sleslie's: she doesn't sound like a pleasant person to live with, and you're entirely within your rights to demand that she move out within 30 days and that there be no drinking in the house during that time. But unless I'm missing something, this sounds like a very regrettable (if frightening) consequence of binge drinking, not a violent incident that would make me fear for my safety.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:34 AM on September 10, 2011 [8 favorites]

You just had a terrible, frightening, stressful night with no sleep. I think we can better assist you with some data about how the sober (if perhaps horrendously hungover) Ashley is approaching this herself today. Is she mortified? Does she admit that she's had episodes of drinking-induced frightening behavior before? Would she agree to stay sober for the x days that she remains in the house? Is living with her sister an option?
posted by argonauta at 7:34 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree that it sounds like she was drunk and belligerent, but not truly dangerous. Believe it or not, many people live like this for many years and somehow emerge unscathed. I don't think you are in any immediate danger. Hopefully she has given herself a big scare. What you are likely to find is that she is very contrite and will A) profoundly apologize and promise it will never happen again, and B) try to make it sound like it wasn't quite as bad as you remember. (The latter is important so that she'll be able to think you are all really unreasonable and mean for not accepting her apology.)

I think that obviously you should ask her to move out, you shouldn't have to live with her if the relationship has been fatally compromised. But you can't just put someone's stuff on the curb, and you really may owe her 30 days notice. She didn't commit any crimes, and despite being incredibly unpleasant, I don't think she has violated any of the legal terms (however flimsy they might be) of her housing situation.

Once you know for sure how much notice you're legally entitled to give her, you are welcome to let her know that you would VASTLY prefer that she be out even sooner. Be prepared to pay her pro-rated rent for any time she'd already paid you for.
posted by hermitosis at 7:35 AM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]

She was binge-drinking. Just tell her to move out, and say you'll forgive the missing rent and even give her her damage deposit back.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:41 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

If she hasn't paid September's rent, why don't you kick her out now? Give her a week's notice as a courtesy. Her having not paid rent for September was a huge red flag. Return her deposit less the rent for the remainder of the month.
posted by shoesietart at 7:44 AM on September 10, 2011

Two magic words: "Dry storage". Move all her crap into a storage unit (probably easier with her not around for a few hours), change the locks on the house, and hand her the key to the storage unit. Don't expect to get your $50 or whatever back for the storage unit.

But you can't just put someone's stuff on the curb

Of course you can. Regardless of what a court would eventually decide (which would require Ashley to hire a lawyer for far more than she could just rent somewhere else), the police tend to STRONGLY favor whatever course of action requires them to do nothing in these situations. If she has already de facto "moved out", they will tell her to take a hike (if, OTOH, you call them to have her removed, they'll give you a line of BS about how they can't do that blah blah blah).

Also, keep in mind that in the absence of a lease, the entire situation amounts to hearsay, and you have three people who want one person gone. Jus' sayin'.
posted by pla at 7:46 AM on September 10, 2011 [8 favorites]

seconding shoesietart: her very first month and already she says she can't/won't pay until Oct. 1?!? Give her a week's notice now & tell her to get gone. (By the way, I wouldn't expect her to be paying both the overdue Sept. rent and the Oct. rent if you let her stay: she'll never be up to date with her rent, she'll just keep getting farther and farther behind until you have to kick her out for that.)
posted by easily confused at 7:49 AM on September 10, 2011

It's quite possible that you do have to give her 30 days (or a different, but also substantial, period of time), and that it doesn't matter whether anyone has anything with anyone's signature on it. Rental laws protect people who are renting, including ones who are late on rent and who don't get along with their roommates and/or the people from whom they are renting. My guess is that you can't just throw her out on the street (legally - and even if you could, it would be a pretty beastly thing to do).

Also, the cops left and told her to go to bed because there was nothing else to be done. She got drunk and started insulting you guys and wanted to smoke indoors - while these things might make her a poor roommate (certainly for you), they don't make her a threat or danger. It sounds like you're overreacting.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:52 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

I spoke with her this morning. Her sister had come over. Ashley did not remember anything but was not mortified or remotely embarrassed as I hoped she would be. She was still beligerant towards me and my roommate. We explained the situation to her sister and her sister did not believe us, saying that we had probably been drunk as well (we were not). Ashley kept repeating herself and saying that nothing happened the way we said it had.

I do not know if her parents live anywhere near here. I do not have her sister's number.

My roommate said she overheard Ashley and her sister talking about how the white-skinned racists (me and my roommates) are conspiring to keep her down (she is black). This is going to be a very uncomfortable thirty days if that is how long she has.
posted by amicamentis at 7:55 AM on September 10, 2011

Take your boyfriend and cat, and move out until she's gone.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:02 AM on September 10, 2011

BTW, in many jurisdictions, not only is it illegal to throw someone's shit out on the street and change the locks, as some people are advocating,* but there are renter's rights organizations** offering free counsel to people like her and you can get hit with a pretty substantial civil penalty, in addition to damages. If you took her on because you need her $300 a month, it's quite possible that you can't afford to do things illegally here.

*pla also appears to be advocating lying to the police or in court, which is spectacularly stupid given (1) this post on the public intarwebz and (2) her sister and (3) a host of other stuff which would erode your credibility. That's also probably illegal and a crime.

**You should go to one of those yourself and find out what your own rights are. Seriously. You're going to get lots of outraged people on AskMe telling you how awful she is, and you're going to get lots of people telling you that you're clearly sheltered and have never seen a drunk person before, but it's extremely unlikely that anyone here can tell you with any degree of certainty or specificity her rights or yours.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:02 AM on September 10, 2011 [20 favorites]

The above is correct.

Another viewpoint: She has not paid you the money that she owes you for the month of September. But also, you are not her landlord, nor are you a landlord, and she is not a party to the lease of the apartment.

She has violated the contract between the two of you, who are two parties to a private agreement. That agreement is that she will give you money in exchange for living in the house that you have rented. She has violated that agreement.

At this time, you are de facto using her one-month security deposit to pay the money that she owes for the month of September. Not only must, by the terms of your agreement, she pay you rent for September, she must replenish what is essentially a line of credit.

Not a lawyer; not familiar with Pennsylvania tenancy laws; I would encourage you to seek professional assistance.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 8:08 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

J. Wilson : If you took her on because you need her $300 a month, it's quite possible that you can't afford to do things illegally here.

I have to agree with your last line. The rest, meh. Just depends on how much the asker wants Ashley gone, and how likely Ashley has a clue about her rights (and the resources to act on them).

And FWIW, I've suggested the same in previous AskMe threads, and I do so because a friend of mine with a several rental properties actually does so several times a year to get rid of the deadbeats and crackheads. Only one, ever, has gone to court over it; Total loss, $300*, more than offset by having a paying tenant in place less than 90 days later and saving untold damage to the apartment.

I also described "dry storage" as "magic words" because they protect you from (almost) all of those pesky civil penalties. Actual curb, bad. Safely stored, cool. Key to the storage unit as leverage to get them to sign an agreement to take a hike as of yesterday, priceless.

* Auspicious that you used exactly that figure, I'd almost suspect you know the game well and want to discourage the asker, except 10 years and (probably) a different state later, I doubt the exact figure would still apply
posted by pla at 8:23 AM on September 10, 2011

I don't know about getting her out, but if she is denying everything, next time, and there will be a next time, video tape her.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:54 AM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]

Given everything you've told us, here's what I would do today (I am not a lawyer, and not a Pennsylvanian!):

I would tell her that in light of her behavior and her non-payment of September's rent, you will be finding a new roommate for October 1st. You will not be using her security deposit as rent, so she will still be expected to pay (pro-rated, if necessary) for all the days in September that she stayed there. The understanding there is that the sooner she gets out, the cheaper this will be for her.

If by the time she moves out she is unable to pay, only then -- when any damage to property can finally be assessed -- would I discuss deducting the amount from her deposit.
posted by hermitosis at 8:56 AM on September 10, 2011

The University of Pittsburgh School of Law operates free legal clinics. While none of them focuses specifically on tenant law, if you call (412-648-1300) and describe your situation, they might be interested in looking at it as a general civil practice case.

Are you or your (friendly) roommates students? My school offered advice on tenant issues through their counseling office. It's worth a check.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:07 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

If all you have are verbal agreements, and nothing in writing, then I would say that surely part of your verbal agreement must have been that if at any time, her rent is not paid by the 7th, then she has until the 15th to move out. And that after the 7th it is too late to pay the late rent, and that she will be considered to have violated her lease and must move out. If she doesn't remember that part of the verbal agreement, well, binge drinking will do that to you. Then on the 15th, put her stuff in storage, give her the storage room key and return her deposit, minus the prorated rent and the storage room fee. If she refuses to leave, call the police. All 3 of you stand firm with the police that she knew she needed to move out, and above all, remain calm and let her be the one to get hysterical in front of the police.

You are going to have to play hardball with her. Any niceness on your part will be seen as a weakness by her and she will use it to manipulate you, and she will still be living there in January.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:19 AM on September 10, 2011

Refocus your energies. (I say this as someone that dealt with someone similar, although a bit more dangerous about a decade ago...)

#1 - if you are really scared about your safety, GET OUT NOW. Turn off all the utilities that are in your name and get them shut off for the DAY that you're out of the house. You don't want to be stuck with bills on top of all this.

But if you're not actually worried about your safety, here are some concrete things to do:

- Are you afraid that she is going to steal and/or damage your personal things? If so, work right now on getting your bedroom door set up with a lock.

- If there is a phone line or pay-per-view on the cable, turn off any service that she can use and potential leave you sitting with the bill.

- If you have mail coming to the house that has identifying information, move all your bills to paperless and/or get a PO box.

- Don't have packages come to the house. Send them to your office instead.

You're probably going to take a financial hit here. Once you figure out your plan, call the landlord and explain the situation, but chances are that you're going to end up responsible for at least the rent. But in the long-term financial wellbeing of your life, this won't really matter.


Is your lease collective or individual? What happened with September's rent? Did you pay it?

re: the rent, I'd say:
"Look Ashley, you knew that rent was due at the 1st of the month when you moved in. You can't pay at the end of the month."

Who has her security deposit? You or the landlords?

Cuz it doesn't REALLY matter, cuz if there are damages, the landlords aren't going to say, "Oh, the damage was in Ashley's room" or "Ashley caused the damage, so we'll take it out of Ashley's security deposit." They are going to take it out of your collective security deposit and then give it back to you all.
posted by k8t at 9:23 AM on September 10, 2011

Try negotiating. Find out what she wants. Stop using "you" statements, and start using "I" statements.

You hold a couple of cards: you have her damage deposit, and you also expect September 1 rent.

She holds a couple of cards: she's already in your space, and she also can play the race card.

Arrange a meeting with her and her sister. Attend the meeting with one other person on "your side."

Prepare an invoice for outstanding September rent, and future October rent. Include the damage deposit on the invoice.

Explain what how you feel the situation has turned out: "We don't think we're a good fit; also, we need someone to pay the rent, and the rent has not been paid in September which is a problem. We think you should move out by September 30. I think we will all be happy."

Start out by asking when she can pay Sept back rent, and also ask if she will be able to pay October rent.

Reiterate that you need another person to pay the rent, so it might be best if she moves on.

Offer to forgive September rent if she moves out. If that doesn't work, offer to give her back her damage deposit if she moves out. The idea here is to help her get the fuck out of your house.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:24 AM on September 10, 2011 [6 favorites]

Jesus Christ, all you people advocating to throw her out and change the locks should feel ashamed of yourselves for practicing law without apparently a smidge of legal knowledge in your heads. For shame. No, this is some bad-ass advice and it makes me a bit sick to my stomach.

OP, I agree moving out yourself is probably the best solution. If you are afraid for your safety and the cops aren't responding to remove the threat, move out. DO NOT listen to some of this extra-legal foolishness in here.
posted by angrycat at 9:26 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Stop talking to her sister. She's clearly not on your side in this issue. Do not engage further with her.
posted by mkultra at 9:43 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

It seems you have two choices. If getting rid of her is your top priority, moving out yourself is the simplest and cleanest way to accomplish that. Just pack up all your stuff and get out.

If keeping the house but getting rid of the roommate is your top priority, you need to get some legal advice. Pittsburgh should have some tenant's organization that should be able to point you in the right direction. Do not lay a finger on her stuff until you know exactly what you are doing. But securing your stuff, and photographing the condition of the house *today* (in case there is any dispute about later damage) is a good idea.
posted by ambrosia at 9:43 AM on September 10, 2011

According to this, one can give only 15 days notice of eviction in certain instances. However, I found another Internet source claiming 30 days notice is required during winter months for nonpayment of rent, and a few chat board posts seem to back that up. The first link says four unrelated people cannot live together in the City of Pittsburgh, so that might make it more difficult for her to enforce a right to stay. But you do need to be careful to treat her exactly like you would someone else (including someone of another race), so if you've had roommates there before, you might not get much from the four-person rule. Basically, you need to consult legal advice.
posted by salvia at 10:00 AM on September 10, 2011

I had a similar situation like this just over a year ago. It ended up with me giving him the amount of time he needed to find a new place (about 45 days). I almost had a nervous break down and looking back I should have just ended the lease thereby forcing him to move out.

Also, have you considered maybe disconnecting the electricity and/or water? In a world that is so reliant on technology not having electricity may be enough to encourage this person to leave - without it it means no Internet, no TV, no YouTube, no refrigeration, no nothing! What about removing some of the other creature comforts as well - what about cable TV/Internet? How is your hot water supplied - can it be disconnected? No hot water for showers in the morning! It would obviously be a pain for you and your fellow room mates to go without these but might be enough to get this person out the door - it's what I'll be doing if I ever have trouble like this again.
posted by theswedishchef at 10:42 AM on September 10, 2011

People smoking in a state of black out drunkenness are definitely a real safety hazard.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:47 AM on September 10, 2011

Another thing I did when I had this happen was put all my important worldly possessions in a secure storage facility. I did it by leasing the the storage space, bought about 5 or so boxes (they sold them at the storage place) and then covertly snuck all of my important stuff out in my backpack. It cost me about $60.00 but gave me piece of mind that they couldn't mess with my stuff (the sort of things that couldn't be replaced if damaged or stolen).
posted by theswedishchef at 10:49 AM on September 10, 2011

Also, have you considered maybe disconnecting the electricity and/or water? In a world that is so reliant on technology not having electricity may be enough to encourage this person to leave - without it it means no Internet, no TV, no YouTube, no refrigeration, no nothing! What about removing some of the other creature comforts as well - what about cable TV/Internet? How is your hot water supplied - can it be disconnected? No hot water for showers in the morning! It would obviously be a pain for you and your fellow room mates to go without these but might be enough to get this person out the door - it's what I'll be doing if I ever have trouble like this again.

You can't do this. It violates tenants rights, regardless of whether you or your landlord does this.
posted by TheBones at 10:50 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Right. Three well-behaved people should have to move out because of one crazy drunk.

Fine. How about an approach that circumvents the entire "renter's rights" line of BS, and replaces it with "proximity"? Get a restraining order against her - You clearly wouldn't need to lie to swear that you don't feel safe around her and that she has threatened you and your roomates. That way, you haven't thrown her out - She just can't occupy the apartment at the same time you do (ie, to sleep there).
posted by pla at 10:56 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another approach may be to start making things uncomfortable for her -- play her at her own game. What about depriving her of sleep - some low frequency bass or Celine Dion at 4am in the morning, how long could someone endure that for? What does she dislike/hate? Whatever it is, go for that. In some situations you've got to fight fire with fire!
posted by theswedishchef at 11:11 AM on September 10, 2011

Fine. How about an approach that circumvents the entire "renter's rights" line of BS, and replaces it with "proximity"? Get a restraining order against her - You clearly wouldn't need to lie to swear that you don't feel safe around her and that she has threatened you and your roomates. That way, you haven't thrown her out - She just can't occupy the apartment at the same time you do (ie, to sleep there).

When you pull out a restraining order, you are asking a judge to restrict another person's freedom and he is not going to do that on charges of lying, sleeping around, partying, swearing, drinking or acting foolishly. The law only allows the court to restrict the person's freedom on charges of violence. Plus pulling a restraining order takes a couple of weeks at the least, sometimes longer. You have to file, go before a judge, the judge gives a ruling, etc.
posted by TheBones at 11:15 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Three people and a cat should move out if they want to act immediately.

The law does not act immediately, unless and until you have a person who is, in the eyes of the cops, a danger to herself and others. By all means, evict her; just go through legal processes to do so.

Anything else to drive her out, whether it be changing the locks and dumping her stuff out on the street or cutting off the utilities or playing Celine Dion incessantly is either a) possibly illegal or b) shitty human behavior.
posted by angrycat at 11:41 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

I should say, a danger to herself OR others
posted by angrycat at 11:43 AM on September 10, 2011

IANAL I used to be a landlord.
Call legal aid to find out what her legal rights are in your state.
There's a police report (police called by you? or neighbors?) that documents at least some of the event. get a copy, or at least the name of the cop.
She has behaved unreasonably. Tell her, in person, accompanied by a letter, that her roommate behavior is unacceptable. Rent for September was due Sept. 1 and is still not paid. Detail the events of the drunken evening and aftermath.
Unless Legal Aid is clear that she has more rights, state that she has 10 days to evacuate the premises. In the event of any inappropriate behavior, the police will be called immediately. You'll have to have somebody at home, and lock up any valuables.

I had tenants who got a new roommate who was kind of nuts. Behavior that was socially 'off,' and lied about her employment situation. New roomie got weirder, they wanted her out. As a landlord, not actually my problem to resolve. Then 2 things happened. She had often claimed to have 'powers,' and warlock friends, and she left a creepy/stupid pentagram on their dining room table, with symbols connected by red threads. She came to see me, the landlord, and threatened legal action if the roommates tossed her out. And she told me that her warlock friends would protect her, and insinuated that I would be harmed if I let her roommates toss her out. My son was @ 9. I told her that fucking with a Mom was really stupid, and that she had just subtly threatened my family, that she had lost any tenant rights by acting in an threatening manner, and that she had 24 hours to leave. I made the other tenants refund her deposit and prorated rent, as they did not adequately check her out.

I wasn't scared of her 'powers' or her 'warlock' friends; I was scared of her being batshit insane and prone to threatening people. The law tends to be on your side if you are protecting yourself from someone who may harm you in your home. And, your roomie's a deadbeat who isn't likely to lawyer up and sue you for money you don't have. Not many lawyer would take the case.

In crazy witchcraft girl's honor, we did a cleansing ritual after she left. good times.
posted by theora55 at 12:21 PM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]

Get renters' insurance very soon if you don't already have it. It is quite inexpensive, and you can stretch it out into monthly payments if you need to. (Seriously, I pay ~$100 a year for my 2-bedroom place for $20,000 coverage--which is way more than the value of anything I own)

This won't do anything to get her out of your place, but it will be a tremendous help if she ever truly does burn the house down (I'm sure she won't). It's a concrete thing you can do right now to cover your ass. I'm sorry this is happening to you.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 12:39 PM on September 10, 2011

Landlord speaking.

Probably the fastest way to get her out is to pay her in cash if she is out by, say, the 15th. She only gets the cash if she is out and hasn't damaged anything, of course. Offer her whatever you think will be enough to induce her to leave -- say, up to around half what she owes you for the month. Sure, it's money you don't have since she isn't paying rent, but it's money you would also have to spend, and more, to actually go through any legal process of eviction. (The average eviction can cost $1000 to $2000, including attorney's fees.) Look at this as a lesson learned about vetting roommates and let your animosity go; she's the one with the problem, and she'll take it with her when she leaves.

That said, Pennsylvania has some unusual omissions in landlord-tenant law, from what my Nolo guide tells me, and I'm not sure I would proceed at all without a lawyer. If the cash inducement does not work, see one the very next day. This is a situation fraught with variables and uncertainties.
posted by dhartung at 1:06 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I dealt with this in California (roommate was doing cocaine and attempted suicide in the apartment).

Please find out all you can about renter's rights in Pennsylvania. In California, even if someone has not paid rent (on time, or at all), if they have established residency (i.e. have their stuff there, have lived in a place for x amount of time), they have rights.

In California, the minimum amount of time you can evict someone is 30 days. You can not evict anyone sooner.

I would give her a letter, telling her she has 30 days/end of the month/whatever Pennsylvania law says is the minimum time. Do it in writing, keep copies, have her sign a copy. In the letter, make it clear that if she is not out by the specified time, legal action will take place.

Best of luck to you!
posted by too bad you're not me at 1:15 PM on September 10, 2011

It might make the remaining 30 days easier if you could think of her as someone who is a terror when drunk, and who needs to be out of the house for that reason, and not as someone who is actually secretly insane and liable to commit irrational acts when sober. From what you describe, the things she got mad at are things that would make a reasonable drunk person angry -- let's posit a reasonable drunk person here -- but because she's a bad drunk, she just could not calm the eff down about it. What set her off seems to have been being put in the shower like a child and told that she would be watched over all night. This is not a good thing to do to somebody you aren't close friends with. And then of course having the cops called on her didn't make her less mad. Even this is rooted in an experience of reality that is not irrational: "My roommate said she overheard Ashley and her sister talking about how the white-skinned racists (me and my roommates) are conspiring to keep her down (she is black)." Well, she doesn't know you aren't racists, any more than you know very much about her, but you are conspiring to get her out of the apartment in fewer than 30 days. This would also suggest that you and she might have very different ideas about when it's appropriate to call the cops on somebody, and what it means when you do.

All this is to say that I am very sure that as long as she isn't blackout drunk, which thus far has happened only on a Friday night, she would rather have her $300 back than deliberately damage your stuff, which she doesn't seem to have done even at the height of her drunken rage.
posted by Adventurer at 3:17 PM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

The easiest way to do what you want to do, and one which also happens to not be illegal and not be evil, is to negotiate. Seriously, buy her out.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:25 PM on September 10, 2011

Hmm... I wouldn't be suprised if drugs (psychedelics) were involved considering her behavior. Especially with the racial paranoia involved afterward. Anyhoot...

I just dealt with a situation with a roommate (I live in Pittsburgh) that involved the cops. Basically when I mentioned to the cop that said person would be moving out (one way or the other) at the end of the lease due to the circumstances, he told me some good info. Serve the person an eviction notice, because that person still has rights, and can stay in the property for up to 30 days after the lease expires. It's not exactly the same situation as yours, but I'm sure this girl has rights that protect her from having her shit put on the curb. I would talk with your landlord or some sort of organization and find out more information before proceeding.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 10:41 PM on September 10, 2011

I wouldn't be suprised if drugs (psychedelics) were involved considering her behavior.

There are a few medications that can cause extreme reactions with alcohol. I've seen people who normally have their shit together lose control because they weren't aware of how the combination would affect them. This doesn't excuse her behavior, though.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:44 AM on September 11, 2011

Keep working on the sister. Be nice, but say that this is not working out and a solution needs to be found. Go to the landlord if that does not work. Take photos and everyone write down what happened so she can't deny it.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:52 AM on September 11, 2011

Any updates?
posted by hermitosis at 2:10 PM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't be suprised if drugs (psychedelics) were involved considering her behavior.

I don't see why; nothing that happened was inconsistant with someone who's an asshole when they're drunk.

Who called the cops? I feel this was an overreaction, but did you at least get a report out of it? Also, I can understand not wanting to live with this person, but really, she fell asleep on the couch and started yelling. This is really no reason to fear violent reprisal.
posted by spaltavian at 8:00 PM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think you are totally over-reacting. She went on a bit of a bender and yelled a bit. Whats the big deal. She idn't actually damage anything. I think this is a complete over-reaction on your part. you called the Cops on your own flatmate?

and now you are threatening to throw out all her stuff? Personally I think your behaviour is more anti-social than hers. Of course you can check her out immediately but its a really arse-holey thing to do.

Oh and,
lighting cigarettes on the stove is pretty standard procedure when you don't have a lighter.
posted by mary8nne at 11:46 PM on September 11, 2011

Thank you all so much for your thoughtful replies. I know I was not able to give all of the details, but the combination of the content of her ranting (deliberate personal attacks towards all three of us, continually for over multiple hours) and her insistence of using the stove (electric) to light things (no smoking in the house is a serious rule) while very intoxicated is Not Okay.

When she came home from work on Saturday I made her some tea and spoke concernedly but nicely to her, asking how she was feeling and how everything was. She seemed like her normal self at this point (greatly contrasting from the morning) and apologized, saying she couldn't really remember what happened. Strangely, during the conversation, she asked where the rest of the bottle of wine was. I told her that I was sorry for overreacting the night before, that I had gotten so little sleep, and that we were all emotional.

I told her then that it was probably just a result of having 4 people in a small house and that unfortunately it didn't seem to work well. I said it wasn't anyone's fault, just overcrowding. She agreed and said she and her sister would be looking for a new place the next day.

Once again, I appreciate all of the answers in this thread. I have taken to heart the suggestions that I may be overreacting, but this incident combined with the fact that she has been in the house less than a month, has had multiple cleaning issues, and has not yet paid September rent still convinces me that she needs to go.
posted by amicamentis at 6:30 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Glad things went a little better, but seriously, prepare yourself for the possibility that the "new-place-finding" just isn't working out as well as... staying at a place she's already at, without paying rent for the month, with people who are more afraid of being called a racist than saying "fuck off, get out" (or its legally-allowed equivalent).
posted by Rykey at 7:12 AM on September 12, 2011

I'm glad that things seem to be going a bit better, amicamentis, but I would still follow J. Wilson's advice and find out what your legal rights and responsibilities are (in particular, the document that Johnny Assay linked to above is troubling--the law seems similar to other statutes and ordinances I've read of before that were passed in order to ban houses of ill-repute; it may not be enforced that often, but could leave you in a tough spot WRT future roommates, especially if you need that extra rent coming in.

Also, IANAL(awyer) and IANAL(andlord), but I have been (temporarily) in charge of a halfway house for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, and several things about Ashley's behavior (specifically, the denial, focusing on your alleged behavior (i.e. playing the race card) as a way of deflecting from her own, quickly agreeing to leave when you made it clear where you were going with the conversation, and even wondering where the rest of the wine went to) makes me think that this isn't her first time to the rodeo by a long shot. Be prepared to stand firm, resist suggestions that she needs just a little more time, and even endure one or two more episodes of drunken ranting.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:26 PM on September 12, 2011

Hello anyone looking for an update:

She moved out. On October 1st. Like she was supposed to. I couldn't really believe it.

She didn't pay rent or utilities for September, but it is worth it to have her out. She also left her room dirty. Oh well. It's clean now, vacuumed, and we lit some incense and are enjoying having a drama-free home. It was a tense few weeks.

Once again, thank you all so much for your comments and suggestions. It really helped through a difficult time.

Halloween Jack, your last comment especially rang true with me, about how it probably wasn't her first time having trouble in a shared living situation.
posted by amicamentis at 10:16 AM on October 4, 2011

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