How to undo being thoroughly out-manipulated?
October 4, 2011 8:19 PM   Subscribe

My roommate unilaterally decided to force me out of the apartment. She and 3 new tenants already signed a new lease. What are my options (if any)?

I lived with 3 other girls in an amazing apartment found via craigslist. L has lived here the longest. Willowy, deliberate, soft-spoken... she seemed so nice. But she turned out to be an utterly passive-aggressive neat freak. I'm pretty conscientious about cleanliness, but her standards made the house feel sterile and oppressive. If dissatisfied, she would never say anything to our face, but email the group in capital bold red font, or stick post-it notes on the offending "dirty" item.

A subletter replaced L for the summer, and without an enforcer, the apartment's pristine state began to slide (yet not too badly; it remained neater-than-average and reflected the natural lower standard of the 4 of us). A month before returning, she privately emailed another roommate asking how the house was and who wanted to renew the lease (me + the subletter; the other 2 roommates planned to move out).

That very night, she emailed me out of the blue from Europe: "...When I learned that the apartment hadn't been kept clean to the standard she knows I prefer, I realized then that no matter how much I like you personally, I don't think we're compatible as roommates. I want to live comfortably in the apartment and in order to do so, I need to live with people who have similar living habits. Therefore, I'd like to let you know now that you should start looking for another apartment to move into once the lease is up in a month. I apologize for any inconvenience it may cause you, but I think it's for the best." (She separately emailed the subletter to disinvite him from joining the lease.)

I was stunned. I'm on the lease. She is not the landlord. How did she have the power to force me out without so much as a 2-way discussion? She apparently assumed I should bend to her will just because she had "seniority."

I stupidly didn't go to the landlord immediately. Instead I took a planned 6-day vacation. On return, I frantically started apartment-searching. In mid-August in a college town. Demand >>> supply. I also just started a f/t job (including 3 night shifts a week) and am in the time-sucking process of applying to med school. My small budget and lack of easy transportation around town were also limiting. With a week left, I finally turned to the landlord. She didn't want to get in the middle, but explicitly said that 1. I was welcome to renew the lease if I wanted, 2. if I didn't, I could stay into the fall until whenever I found a new place. I didn't get this in writing -- also stupid.

L returned from Europe. She went straight to the landlord. I don't know what she said, but it must have been twisted and persuasive. Her gentle, graceful demeanor can lull anyone into agreeing to anything. After, we talked 1-on-1. She said, "If you don't willingly agree to move out at this month, we will make you move out. The landlord has agreed to refuse to let you renew the lease." I was shocked at the 180. I said I had the same rights as she did, as we were both on the lease, and that anything that she told the landlord was just hearsay. She then told me she'd already found 3 new roommates (while in Europe) to sign the lease and move in on the 1st.

I started to plead with her: I would defer to her wishes to move out, but she had to give me more time to look for a new place. I wanted to stay for 1 or 2 more months. I tried to make her understand this was a huge burden she had put on me, all for the sake of her selfish desire to "start fresh." She replied, stone-cold, "It's as if you expect me to be kind or generous to you. But you are just a roommate to me. You can't stay here. Stay with friends. Find a hostel." She made a decision unilaterally, behind my back, and now she wanted it fulfilled completely on her own terms while getting to stay in an awesome, cheap apartment. At that point I lost my cool and started crying angry tears. She kept on going: "You shock me sometimes. You get so stressed out by little things. Girl, shit happens. This time I caused the shit to happen to you. Stop acting so self-righteous. You're acting like I *wronged* you. But you just need to deal with it. Move on. One week is enough to find a place."

Basically, she bullied me out. She manipulated everything before I even knew what had hit me... I practically rolled over for her. But I'd never done anything to her. I've always been thoughtful and easygoing. I always just want everyone to get along. We were not BFFs, but we always joked and chatted and were friendly. We had never argued before.

In the end, she ever so reluctantly agreed to let me stay in the living room (because a roommate's boyfriend walked through and she changed her tune literally mid-sentence). I have until October 15 to move out. I've been biking all over the city for the past month looking for a place, to the detriment of my grad school applications. I've been looking mainly on craigslist and university-affiliated housing websites to avoid broker's fees. Meanwhile the 3 new people have already moved in. They very nicely agreed to let me stay in the living room for now, but were firm about a move-out date of October 15. They don't know the story and I'm not sure if it will accomplish anything to tell them, in part because L has started dating one of them, who has become her bitch. I pay rent but feel like an outcast, and feel deeply resentful as I watch her put on her act with the new roommates.

It's been exhausting and stressful, and all this time, I wonder: Is it too late to do something? What should I do if I can't find a place on October 15? I have friends who will let me crash for several days, but I can't keep bouncing around from place to place with all my furniture. If it's too late, what SHOULD I have done? I would love to know, just so I can learn how to better stand up for myself in the future. I also have no idea what my legal rights were, especially as pertaining to the END of a lease. Everything I've read addresses situations where the lease is still ongoing. I just figure it must be completely up to the landlord's discretion who can renew it, so if L got the landlord to side with her, I had no choice. (This is in Somerville, Massachusetts.)

I apologize for the length. Thanks for reading this far, and for any advice (even stern talking-tos).

throwaway email: ishallthrowthisaway at gmail
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (41 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I understand your wanting to stay because of the stress it's causing you and the burden of your present responsibilities, but honey, would you really have wanted to live with someone who clearly doesn't much like you, nor have much compassion? Had you stayed, she would have made you miserable every single day.
posted by liketitanic at 8:26 PM on October 4, 2011 [11 favorites]

yea, let it go. She sounds horrible. How was the subletter not keeping the place clean even your fault? Sorry bout this, but I'd let it go.
posted by sweetkid at 8:27 PM on October 4, 2011

If they signed a lease, you aren't on it, and there was nothing in writing saying they weren't allowed to do that, it's time to move. It's pretty simple. Everything else is unimportant.

L has started dating one of [the new tenants], who has become her bitch

Like this. This is irrelevant. Move.
posted by Mikey-San at 8:32 PM on October 4, 2011 [4 favorites]

yeah, good riddance to a hostile weirdo. put 100% of your energy into finding a new place. the old place is gone.
posted by facetious at 8:34 PM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

If they signed a lease, you aren't on it, and there was nothing in writing saying they weren't allowed to do that, it's time to move. It's pretty simple. Everything else is unimportant.

She said she is on the lease...
posted by bearette at 8:34 PM on October 4, 2011

Have you talked to the landlord yourself since L came to you and said he wasn't allowing you to renew? It could have been a lie, and even if that is true, he may be willing to explain why... which could give you a chance to explain your side of the story. If they have other rental properties they might be able to find you a space somewhere, or talk to any other landlords they might know.

also, some realtors do deal in rental property and might be able to help you find somewhere.

You can also post to craigs list advertising that you're looking for a place that might be available immediately, explain the situation briefly (roommate on lease moved in new tenants and arranged for everyone to sign without giving you a chance to renew) without the drama included (it might make you sound like the bad guy, even though it doesnt' sound like it by the way you've described it here).

Any way you can talk to the sub lease person who was also forced out and see if they need a roommate?
posted by myShanon at 8:40 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Is the landlord actually refusing to renew the lease or is your lovely and psycho roommate bluffing?
posted by moonshine at 8:40 PM on October 4, 2011 [6 favorites]

bearette She's on the current lease... not the re-signed one the new roommates are on. At least, thats the way I interpreted the comment?
posted by myShanon at 8:41 PM on October 4, 2011

1. Get things in writing.
2. Do not allow people to get things you do not want to give them, no matter how nice they are to you or aren't. Period. It's not "but she's so nice"; it's "this is not what I want, and I have rights". It doesn't matter how nice someone is or isn't, period. If what they are saying is not acceptable to you, then you do your best to make sure the situation is made acceptable by any legal means at your disposal.
3. Once she said she talked to the landlady, ask if she's got it in writing. If not, you talk to her, and threaten to go to the Fair Housing Bureau (or whatever equivalent) because of whatever discrimination. It doesn't matter if it's true/likely, but instead show that you won't back down unless they take you to court (most people won't do that; hell, an ex-landlady of my mom's literally took my mom to court for long-term unpaid rent (note: we were poor) and left after making it to the waiting room-- people do not generally want to go to court, even if they're actually entitled).
4. Nice words mean nothing. Actions speak louder.
5. Too late now, most likely, but.
5b. The relationships involved are irrelevant in some ways, and indeed the roommates may at least give you a bit more time if you called a 'house meeting' and laid out this whole story to them. Wait till you have a few days left till 10/15 for this. Ask for time to speak uninterrupted and just throw it in their face. What have you got to lose? At least they may say they're sorry and you may feel better.
posted by reenka at 8:45 PM on October 4, 2011 [4 favorites]

Attempting to stay here long-term would be a mistake. It just isn't a good situation for you. That said, that doesn't mean you have to leave on their schedule.

In Massachusetts (and many other jurisdictions) it is illegal for the people you are renting from to move your belongings out of the apartment, to change your locks, or to interfere in any other way with the use of your apartment without going to court for an eviction first. Additionally, if they are evicting you for any reason other than non-payment of rent, they must give you a notice to quit that gives you at least 30 days notice and terminates the tenancy on the day rent is due. If your rent isn't due on October 15, the notice to quit is invalid. Then they have to go to court to evict you, which will cost them money and take a while.

Read the chapter on evictions in Tenants' Rights in Massachusetts: Private Housing.
posted by grouse at 8:50 PM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

This was way too much information, but it sounds like this is what happened:

1) you were on the old lease that expired
2) she told you to move out at the end of the old lease
3) for some reason, you decided to do this
4) she went to the landlord and signed a new lease with other people

Sorry, but bluntly, you lost. The winning move would have been to round up your own set of roommates and renew the least without her when she e-mailed you from Europe to move. That's exactly what she did to you. The problem here isn't the house- you need to leave- the problem is that you are taking orders from people who have no right to order you around. Your question reads as if written by someone who gets so overwhelmed by small things that you're missing the big things. Learn to focus and stand up for yourself.

As for this house; can you possibly imagine any good out of staying there? Couch surf; stay with a friend or family, even if it means a horrible commute. Sell your furniture if you need to. Any thing would be better than being around this woman.
posted by spaltavian at 8:57 PM on October 4, 2011 [17 favorites]

posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:09 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

You have to solve three problems. I would prioritize them as 1) housing 2) grad school apps and 3) assertiveness training. Anything else that happens during the day is noise that should eithrr be addressed quickly and immediantly or ignored.

As for this woman, revenge is a dish best served cold. Bide your time; sooner or later an opportunity will arise to make it clear that you have not forgotten.

Good luck.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:09 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Move for God's sake!
posted by LarryC at 9:26 PM on October 4, 2011

Living with somebody who hates you is a quick recipe for an ulcer or waking up every morning with dry heaves from the stress.

Move. Don't waste any more time or energy on trying to make things work with this roommate or this house. Find another situation that will work, even if it's only for a month while you find something better long-term, and move.
posted by Lexica at 9:31 PM on October 4, 2011

I agree that your main priority is to move: roomie relationships are horribly poisonous and can really get under your skin. But also talk to the landlord(s). One, because this sort of horseshite, given that it seems manipulative, underhanded and stupid, is likely to blowback on them: they will think they have a good, reliable set of tenants set up and then discover that this woman is chasing people out, changing the locks and depopulating the place to serve her own purposes. It's one thing to want to stay out of roommate drama, it's quite another to discover that one tenant has locked all the others out and piled their stuff on the lawn/sold it on Craigslist. If that's a possibility, the landlord should know.

Second, they may have other properties or know of some available places.

But the principle of 'longest tenant keeps the place' is usually right, from the landlord's perspective and from the point of view of fairness. Otherwise, new people can come in and evict a long-sitting person who's been their for years -- "I know *you* like the place to be clean and quiet, but the three of *us* have decided it's gonna be a party house!! If you don't like it, then leave!!!"
posted by jrochest at 10:05 PM on October 4, 2011

She went straight to the landlord. I don't know what she said, but it must have been twisted and persuasive. Her gentle, graceful demeanor can lull anyone into agreeing to anything. After, we talked 1-on-1. She said, "If you don't willingly agree to move out at this month, we will make you move out. The landlord has agreed to refuse to let you renew the lease." I was shocked at the 180. I said I had the same rights as she did, as we were both on the lease, and that anything that she told the landlord was just hearsay. She then told me she'd already found 3 new roommates (while in Europe) to sign the lease and move in on the 1st.

She's either lied to the landlord or is lying to you, and she sounds like she's on a crazy power trip. In a perfect world, where we all have time to think things through before reacting, you would have poked holes in her calmly stated assertions, known the straight story, and gone a-ha! on her. Very rarely do we get that chance, any of us!

Monday-morning quarterback questions: Is subletting even permitted in your lease? The landlord didn't want to get in the middle, but suddenly agreed to prohibit you, a paying tenant, from renewing?

In the future, remember that you are not required to react to any information just because you've being goaded into doing so. Politely and calmly stonewall such assertions calmly, say something vague about having to think about all of this, and take a day to think it through. In this case, I would have said to think it through in your own room so that the passive-aggressive control freak couldn't mess with your stuff, of course.
posted by desuetude at 10:42 PM on October 4, 2011

There are laws protecting tenants. Call the tenant's rights/Legal Aid organization in the phone book. Chalk it up to experience, and some people being jerks, find a new place, and move forward with life.

I have a piece of advice: life will go better for you if you learn to spot when someone is treating you badly, and stand up for yourself, not with anger, but because Of Course you deserve to be treated with basic civility. It's not always easy to learn to do this, but it's very useful. Good luck.
posted by theora55 at 11:50 PM on October 4, 2011

Ugh. I'm so, so sorry she did that to you. I had something sort of similar happen recently. It sucks, but in the end, moving out is for the best because living with people who do that kind of shit will wear on you.

Housing ideas:

1) are you open to a few months' long sublet? Those are sometimes easier to find, and often less competitive because it's not permanent. You can put furniture in storage if you have to take a furnished place.

2) try placing a housing wanted ad on craigslist. There are people who have rooms available and don't want to have to filter through a billion responses, so they look through housing wanted ads.
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:48 AM on October 5, 2011

First; others are correct that the stress of living with these people is likely so great that almost any hassle will be preferable.

That said, the one and only answer to your question "How did she have the power...?" is that she had the power because you gave it to her. She couldn't force you to leave, only the landlord could do that. And the landlord can't do that without jumping through hoops.

Have you received a written, official 30 day notice to quit? If you haven't, no-one, including your landlord can force you to leave. It may be best to get the heck out of dodge anyway, but once again the only power they have to force you to leave if you haven't been given the proper notifications is the power that you give them.
posted by Justinian at 2:03 AM on October 5, 2011

Mate, if you're going to go to med school, you want a home that is relaxing and pleasant. In younger years, I was caught in this trap. Roommate who can't afford to live alone and cannot accept that fact, thus tortures people with a naturally-friendly basis. In your case, your roommate obviously should live alone but she cannot afford it, thus your situation.

Whilst it is a pain in the ass, move on. You'll be happier. Home is where the heart is, and a comfortable situation anywhere else will trump an uncomfortable situation in a nice place. In fact, it's almost a poetic insult to have a beautiful apartment lorded over by a witch.

You may have some legal rights here but imagine if you did have them, enforce them, and win. You now live in an apartment with someone who will despise you. And that doesn't sound fun at all.

As someone told me once, "Many great people have lived out of suitcases for short amounts of time." Live out of your suitcase for a bit and stop wasting your precious life on fighting a monster.
posted by nickrussell at 2:47 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are you guys reading the same question I'm reading? She gave you a month's notice before the natural end of your lease, which is generally the textbook correct time to let someone know that they need to find another place. She's right that you can't live together, you have different standards for how the house is kept. She's right that she's lived there longer, so when it comes time for someone to move it's not her. She set clear personal boundaries and so have her new roommates. She may be crazy but she did everything by the book in this case (actually she sounds like an obsessive rule follower, so not real surprising).

What are your options: Find a new place. Keep looking, and look harder. Make time to look, even when you're tired. Consider places you wouldn't normally consider. Make finding a new place your biggest priority. Being in a college town also means people who can't make it and have to move back home, so keep checking places you've already checked.

What can you do in the future: Don't drag ass when someone tells you that they're not letting you renew the lease. Assume that they actually, literally, and completely mean exactly what they say. "I always just want everyone to get along" and "We had never argued before" aren't reasons why someone would want to live with you, they're reasons why someone would wait until the natural end of the lease to get rid of you instead of trying to toss you immediately. Also, when you can, get your own place, even if you then sublet a room at least you'll be the one in charge.
posted by anaelith at 3:30 AM on October 5, 2011 [11 favorites]

People who are not from Boston (or a similarly crowded rental market) may not understand how chilling the statement "A week is plenty of time to find a place" is. Especially in August.

I agree that she wasn't your landlord, she didn't have the right to do this, and she's the one with the problem here. However, this is not the time to focus on how evil she is. This is the time to find a new place.

1) Have you reached out to all your friends and family? Asked your most super-connected friend to ask around for you? Mentioned this on any social networks you belong to? Asked around at work? People may know about places that aren't being advertised. (I know my landlord always asks me if I have any quiet friends before he advertises the other apartment to the general public. I can't be the only one.)

2) What public transit lines are convenient to your workplace? I think this may be the time to start looking beyond the Camberville area. If your office is on the Red Line, try something within walking distance of the T in Quincy, or maybe even the end of the Mattapan trolley line in Milton. These places will have fewer students and lower prices, and if you can find a sublet or month-to-month situation, it doesn't have to be permanent.

3) If you can't find a new place by the 15th, store your stuff and keep looking. It may be easier to couch surf for two weeks and find a place for November 1.

Good luck!
posted by pie ninja at 5:27 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Believe me, I know how exhausting and frustrating it is to find a place to live in this town, at the start of the school year, on short notice. But it's worse to continue to live in a horrible situation.

Keep pounding the pavement. If there's an office at the university that can assist you with finding housing, talk to them in person and ask their advice. Talk to your professors/advisors if it's affecting your work. Crash with the friends if it comes to that. But get out now, and figure out later whether you want to take any sort of legal action (and honestly I'm not sure if you can). This is not a situation in which you can achieve any sort of moral victory. The only way you can "win" against her is to get out of this situation and never look back.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:19 AM on October 5, 2011

She gave you a month's notice before the natural end of your lease, which is generally the textbook correct time to let someone know that they need to find another place.

The roommate was not Anonymous's landlord at the time, so she had no authority to give her notice, and no ability to enforce it.

A roommate who has been there longer does not have carte blanche to kick co-tenants out of their home with any period of notice. The decision is up to the landlord.
posted by grouse at 6:50 AM on October 5, 2011

People who are not from Boston (or a similarly crowded rental market) may not understand how chilling the statement "A week is plenty of time to find a place" is. Especially in August.

Seriously, a huge chunk of the Boston area rental pool is sewn up by May. Davis Square in particular is a super-competitive area, moreso than in recent years. Since the OP mentions dealing with the landlord directly and not some management company, the house is most likely an investment property of some sort, so the landlord will go with whomever will provide the least amount of hassle. Unfortunately in this case, that means the willowy resident with a penchant for neatness who already found stable tenants for the year and not the understandably stressed out grad student.

If Craigslist doesn't pan out (a quick search finds places for ~500-600 bucks), Medford might be your best bet (again, assuming Tufts here - if Harvard, go for Inman Square) to find a place. It won't be as nice as Davis, but it at least won't be the living under a bridge option of East Somerville.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:51 AM on October 5, 2011

Put your stuff into storage. Keep looking until you find somewhere. Be the only person on the lease going forward and bring in roommates on a sublet basis.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:01 AM on October 5, 2011

It's not clear from the original question, but one thing I'd be concerned about: have you spoken directly to the landlord since you got forced out? It's conceivable your name is still on the lease.

I agree that you're better off not living with this person—but it didn't need to be you who moved out.
posted by adamrice at 7:06 AM on October 5, 2011

Does the landloard have any other properties or if they know someone that dord? it might help you if you can at least get a recommendation from them as a good past tenant.
posted by ejaned8 at 7:16 AM on October 5, 2011

It sounds to me that you're more upset about the way she treated you, and the implication that you were somehow a bad roommate, than about having to move out. Living with bad roommates can make anyone a little sensitive. I used to need frequent reassurance that "I'm not crazy, right? It's not crazy for it to bother me that [dumbass roommate left the stove on all night/didn't buy toilet paper for a month/had girlfriend move in without telling anyone]."

Anyway, it isn't personal. You didn't do anything wrong. And she didn't handle it well. At the end of the day, though, she decided you weren't compatible, and I can't see any other way it would have worked out, practically speaking; she wasn't going to leave, you were. As others have pointed out, you don't want to live there anymore. So be forward looking, you're focusing on the problem, broaden your perspective and look at it as an opportunity to live with people who aren't passive-aggressive neat freaks.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 7:18 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

How did she have the power to force me out without so much as a 2-way discussion?

No, but you can't stay married to someone who doesn't want to be married to you anymore. Cut your losses, and get out.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:37 AM on October 5, 2011

Yes, yes, Boston is a competitive housing market. In fact, something similar happened to me in Boston ten years ago. Not with near as much acrimony, but I was abroad and my roommate got new people to sign a new lease and I was away and couldn't do anything about it and it sucked. Unlike the OP, I didn't try to negotiate it and got out. That meant I lived in someone's overpriced windowless back room for six weeks (right around 9/11.)

It's doable. Hell, but doable. Just find whatever and remember it's temporary. I know it sucks to be kicked out of your home, but you'll be better for it in the end.
posted by sweetkid at 8:42 AM on October 5, 2011

I'm sorry that happened to you; it sucks - and like people have said, the sooner you can get disentangled from it, the better. I don't know what different options you might have had legally, but practically speaking, most landlords in the area are going to take a tenant's word for it when they say "roommate B is moving out, here's the name of their replacement, and we're ready to sign next year's lease" (because it's usually true), and as long as they're getting paid rent, they don't want to get involved with drama. The one thing I might try for at this point, if it's up in the air, is getting whoever moved into your old room to pay you your security deposit, because Somerville landlords also leave that to tenants to work out in shared-lease situations.

It's a tough time of year to look for housing, and hard when you're working a schedule like that, but on the plus side, people with vacancies are equally desperate to fill them; you will find something. I agree with emailing/posting to facebook asking everyone you know to forward your info to their friends who might have a room. You could call a broker and ask about half-fee or no-fee studio listings (sometimes landlords who didn't get renovations finished up for a Sept. 1 lease will pay broker's fees, or give you a deal.) Can you zipcar or borrow a friend's car to see more places in the free time that you have? Good luck; you will work something out and your life will be so much less stressful once it's settled, even with med school apps and all.
posted by songs about trains at 8:59 AM on October 5, 2011

The easiest thing will be to leave. But you have nowhere to go. And you do have legal rights in this situation. So screw "they were firm." She was firm, you gave in, and it worsened your problems. Are you going to go live in a park now as winter approaches because they were firm? No, so be firm yourself. It has been impossible to find another place to rent on the amount of notice you were given. See if you can get permission to stay longer or even permanently from the landlord. Know your legal rights and be prepared to use them.

See if the landlord would go along with you remaining as a tenant month to month. She already said yes once. Let her know that the situation has changed and you'd like to maintain your current tenancy at-will on a month to month basis. Explain how you didn't get any time and that since you had spoken directly with her before, you were confused (she can't evict you via word of mouth). See if on the side, you can get one or two of the other people to sympathetically feel for your plight, to agree that you staying on awhile longer would be okay (in writing; a casual email maybe? you could send that to the LL) and maybe even figure out a way for you to stay permanently. Pay your rent directly to the LL because not paying rent is the fastest way to get kicked out.

That may not work. At some point you may need to announce that it will be impossible for you to leave by Oct. 15. Even if they then go to the LL, and she begins to evict you, eviction will take (it looks like from the link above; IANAL; and your local ordinances might be even more protective) a minimum of approximately three weeks, if not seven (if there is a need for a 30-day notice), if not more than that. The steps you would take to ensure your point of view is fully considered by the court may also delay it as well. There are probably local housing clinics that could help you evaluate this situation from a legal perspective. IANAL and don't know your details nor the laws there, but I do know that in general, legally evicting someone takes a while and is costly. If the LL thinks you'll leave on your own soon enough, she may just wait.

This will all take a lot of time out of some of your days (going to court, getting your stuff thrown out on the street and having to go back with the cops, e.g.). It will be an unpleasant hassle. But it will hopefully gain you the time that you need to find somewhere new, which is why housing laws are written the way they are.
posted by salvia at 9:24 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm not a lawyer, but I don't really think she has any legal rights here. There is a new lease and she is not on it.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 9:35 AM on October 5, 2011

I am confused by some details of your question. You say you are paying rent. Are you still on the lease or not? Who are you paying rent to? Is the October 15 move-out demanded by your landlord or your roommates? You need to talk to your landlord ASAP if you haven't since she told you you were welcome to renew the lease. She said you could stay into the fall - see what is going on with that.

Here is a link about eviction law and finding low-income legal aid in Mass. Frankly, the time to protest this may have passed and it may be more worthwhile to just focus on finding a new place. But, if you're legally allowed to stay there until threatened with eviction, and it's not possible to find a new place, then put your shit in storage or with a friend, keep sleeping in the living room, and tell them to fuck off or you will call the cops. Absolutely do not pay rent for them "allowing you" to stay there.

(In hindsight, the way to deal with pushy people like this is: sign to renew the lease as soon as your landlord said you could. Take on the lease yourself if you have to and worry about getting new roommates later. Then tell HER to fuck off and move if she doesn't like you.)
posted by nakedmolerats at 10:11 AM on October 5, 2011

I'm not a lawyer, but I don't really think she has any legal rights here. There is a new lease and she is not on it.

This is absolutely wrong. However, Anonymous is now in the position of being a subletter, and her landlord is now L.

In the U.S., tenants who have paid rent almost always have legal rights, even if there is no written lease, even if the written lease has expired, even if they are subletting, even if someone has demanded that they leave by a certain day.
posted by grouse at 10:22 AM on October 5, 2011

This is absolutely wrong. However, Anonymous is now in the position of being a subletter, and her landlord is now L.

Right, this is a good point, but as a month-to-month (sub)tenant I suspect she has been given more than adequate notice. Depending on when that October 15 date was given, maybe not; maybe she legally has until November 1 to get gone.

Regardless, I don't see the upside. If the question is, can Anonymous stay in this apartment until being evicted via a court proceeding, then sure. I just don't understand why anyone would fight so hard to stay in the living room of an apartment occupied by someone who has made it clear they want you gone.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 1:50 PM on October 5, 2011

I just don't understand why anyone would fight so hard to stay in the living room of an apartment occupied by someone who has made it clear they want you gone.

The need for a place to sleep and shower and store possessions until a new place can be found?
posted by desuetude at 1:55 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

However, Anonymous is now in the position of being a subletter, and her landlord is now L.

In that case, you may want to read the "countersuit" and "may be able to collect damages" portions closely. It's unlikely that the bad roommate will follow her obligations under the law. More likely she'll put your stuff out on the street and then you can see if you can make her pay for evicting you illegally. (Again, the cost-benefit ratio and whether you want to get into a battle is another question. But the way I read it, the OP's question is: how do I put up a fight? what does the battle scenario look like here?)
posted by salvia at 3:25 PM on October 5, 2011

More likely she'll put your stuff out on the street and then you can see if you can make her pay for evicting you illegally.

That's why it becomes important to assert your rights in advance. If October 14 rolls around and you still haven't found another place to live, give L a letter informing her of the law and that you intend to pursue all civil and criminal remedies if she pursues it. In

From Tenants' Rights in Massachusetts again:
If your landlord threatens to lock you out or shut off any of your utilities, you may be able to prevent the landlord from taking this illegal action by sending her a demand letter. This letter informs her that she will be committing an illegal act and that you will take legal action to enforce your rights if she breaks the law. See the sample demand letter (Form 18). Save a copy of this letter so that if your landlord does not act properly, you have proof that the landlord knew she was violating the law.
Sure, she might still act illegally. You might be able to get the police to sort it out immediately. You can also file a criminal complaint with housing court and request an emergency hearing that day (see Chapter 15).
posted by grouse at 4:49 PM on October 5, 2011

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