Get roommate out of house for 2 hrs
November 14, 2012 8:46 AM   Subscribe

Need to get roommmate out of house to change the locks

Please allow me to omit the backstory and trust that I've tried every other option at my disposal with a horrific roommate situation.

After long conversations with both my landlord and the police, it seems the only solution is to change the locks while she is gone and put all her stuff on the porch.

The problem is she literally almost never leaves the house. Her fiancee works at Target, so he brings in her groceries and she doesn't even leave for that.

I had a "foolproof" plan that did involve some subterfuge, but it completely exploded today, which is when maintenance is supposed to change the locks.

Also, she and I are not on speaking terms, so there's no way I can say, "hey, I need some privacy for a couple hours" and pretend I'm having a lover over or anything like that.

Please post any suggestions you have. I just need her gone for about 2 hours on a weekday. I'm not afraid to be a bit shady and take full responsibility for this, though it is natural that you wouldn't want to suggest something shady in public.
posted by mermaidcafe to Human Relations (29 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: I get that you are in a bind here but this is feeling like a question that is (a) potentially legally fraught in ways that saying "trust me, this is my only option" can't really ameliorate and (b) asking for suggestions that may themselves be effectively pretty cruel where not outright dangerous or further legally problematic in their own right. -- cortex

If your landlord and the police are both on board, perhaps you could get the landlord to say she needs to fumigate the apartment. You'd both need to leave, and then the locks could be changed.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:47 AM on November 14, 2012

Depending on where you live, there's a very good chance that this will be illegal. You might want to chat with a lawyer beforehand, rather than after.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 8:48 AM on November 14, 2012 [16 favorites]

(With that being said, I'm surprised that the police are cool with this option but still can't compel her to leave.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:48 AM on November 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

Agreed that this sounds illegal and I am very surprised that the police are cool with it. If the police are suggesting you do this, then perhaps they can suggest a way to do so. Their involvement may be important...
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:51 AM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

(It doesn't sound like the police are necessarily down with it, just that they have been spoken to and are not offering alternatives?)
posted by kmennie at 8:55 AM on November 14, 2012

It's not clear to me how you've got to last chance saloon but either it is legal for her to be there or it is legal for her to be evicted.

If the former, then changing the locks to prevent her access is probably illegal.

If the latter, then she surely knows that eviction is a risk any time she is in or leaves the property, hence her behaviour.

If you have to go with a subterfuge, and I can't see why you do, then you need one that plays on her fears of eviction or safety. I.e. you *have* to go and meet the landlord, or there is a gas leak, or you and her go to a coffee shop to discuss an amicable way to live together. But for the subterfuge to work it has to be in her interests to leave the property.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:56 AM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

You need a lawyer to verify whether or not what the cops have told you is true. You are treading on very dangerous ground right now by taking their input at face value.

Your landlord needs to take control here if this is so bad.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:59 AM on November 14, 2012

This is really something your landlord should be handling. I suggest that instead of making this you v. your roommate, you look into making this you v. your landlord by talking to a tenants' rights lawyer. You seem sincere in your feeling that you are up against the wall here, but that does not mean that you will not be doing something for which you can get into a lot more trouble than you want.
posted by OmieWise at 9:00 AM on November 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

If your roommate has been legally evicted, then a Marshall should come and put her out.

If she hasn't, then the land lord needs to do it.

What this is, is an illegal lock out, and if you do it, you can be sued from here til Tuesday.

This is the Landlord's problem, and I'd move out before I get embroiled in a landlord/tenant situation.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:06 AM on November 14, 2012 [6 favorites]

To attempt a reply to all of these answers, this was actually one of the options the police offered. And I talked to two different officers to make sure.

Regarding with whether or not it is legal for her to be there, that actually *is* a grey area. We were waiting for her to clear up some stuff with a past landlord before they would let her sign the lease, so she isn't on the lease. My landlord says that because she isn't on the lease, she can't be evicted through the usual channels.

But, at the same time, the police (both officers) told me that she had established rsesidency here via getting her mail here and having a set of keys. They said that they could not compel her to leave but they also could not compel me to let her back in, even to pick up her things (so I have to pack everything up whenever she's gone).

I forgot to mention I have also spoken with my local Tenant Resource Center, and they confirmed that this is the best (and pretty much only) option I have at this point. (And, yes, I gave my roommate a move-out date in writing, but she didn't leave.)

I thought about getting my landlord to try and fudge an excuse, but I don't want to put them in a tenuous legal position, not that I think they would do that.

With no offense to anyone who has offered help, because I do appreciate it, I would prefer we stick to the subject of ways of getting my roommate to leave for a couple of hours. With all due respect, that is really all I need to know.
posted by mermaidcafe at 9:07 AM on November 14, 2012

If I was planning to do something like this I'd have a friend of yours call and say the Fiance was in an accident and is at some hospital a fair distance away. Between the travel there, confusion at the hospital and travel back you'd probably have time to get the locks done and stuff out on the porch.

Another option might be to make the residence intolerable - washing all the floors with something caustic, playing music literally as loud as possible, set off all the fire alarms, etc. Stuff that will make the roommate think you're insane and WANT to leave.

I have no idea if there's any good legal way to do what you're trying to do though.
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:08 AM on November 14, 2012

With no offense to anyone who has offered help, because I do appreciate it, I would prefer we stick to the subject of ways of getting my roommate to leave for a couple of hours. With all due respect, that is really all I need to know.

If you've been given bad advice, you might be in EXTREMELY serious trouble if you do this. We just want to make sure you aren't going to get totally screwed.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:09 AM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know this isn't an immediate solution..

but could you just have the locks changed and not give her a set of keys? She will have to leave eventually, for some reason, and would not be able to get back in. Make it completely clear that when that does happen, she will find her stuff out on the porch.

It might give her the kick in the pants she needs to move on her own.
posted by royalsong at 9:15 AM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Your Landlord CAN evict her.

Here is a link to the pertinant information.

Here is the thing you REALLY need to see:

Even if the tenant is months behind on the rent, without a court order the landlord cannot:

Physically remove the tenant;
Get rid of the tenant's personal property;
Lock the tenant out;
Cut off the utilities, like water or electricity;
Remove outside windows or doors; or
Change the locks.

So NO, don't do this!

If the landlord WON'T act on her by starting eviction proceedings (which he doesn't want to do because it costs him money and is a royal pain in the ass, NOT because he doesn't have the right to do it) then you need to invoke the part of your lease that allows for "quiet enjoyment of your apartment", give notice and move.

Then she's HIS problem.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:17 AM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

I sort of like royalsong's approach. You can tell the roomate they are working on the locks, but don't explain that they are replacing them. She leaves, you win. Just makes sure you have a lock that locks immediately upon closing the door, not one you have to turn a key to lock.
posted by deezil at 9:19 AM on November 14, 2012

Ignoring the legality, get a wok and season it with garlic infused olive oil. If she has a nose at all she'll leave. Downside is that it will reek for days and days.

I had an idiot roommate try to season a wok with that oil and it almost made me throw up. We had to go to a hotel for the night.
posted by winna at 9:21 AM on November 14, 2012

Is the roommate on any of the utility bills? If not, see if you can stay with a friend for a little while and then just get the telephone, electricity, water, gas, etc all shut off. Kind of a hassle to have it turned back on but making the place unlivable will drive the squatter out!
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:39 AM on November 14, 2012

Can you ask the maintenance people to remove the door to her room? And physically remove it from the premises so she cannot put it back on? That would make me want to leave (either permanently or temporarily.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:47 AM on November 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

Ignoring any of the legal aspects as those seem well-covered by others... A couple of ideas off the top of my head.

Do you have a washer? Could it "break" and she have to go to the laundromat to do her washing?

Could you flip the master switch on your furnace so that it gets really cold, call it "broken" and she goes and stays with her fiancee until it's fixed?

Could you get a hold of a 'missed package' slip, fill it out, put it on the door and wait for her to go and get it?

Could you have a conspiratorial neighbor knock on the door and ask her for some help over at their house?
posted by Jacob G at 9:53 AM on November 14, 2012

Slightly easier than changing the locks while she's there: if you can put a chain on the door, or get one put there, you only need to get her to leave the house for a minute.

Or, similar to blarneyphoto's suggestion, but a little nicer: have someone call her and tell her she won something, and needs to go somewhere to pick it up.

But, also, I join everyone else in being really skeptical that this is legal.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:54 AM on November 14, 2012

I understand you're not on speaking terms, but it might be worth trying to use that. Tell her that you want to take her to lunch (your treat) so that you can apologize for the unpleasantness in the home. Really play it up, if you guys are this at odds she probably feels wronged to some extent for something, so you taking full responsibility and "trying to make things better" will feed into that. Just make sure you take separate cars.
posted by dadici at 9:54 AM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could say the exterminator is coming to pay a visit and make a show of opening the windows and both of you leaving, then you come back alone to let the exterminator in or whatever, except it's the locksmith. The exterminator could be showing up even if your apartment is bug-free, because of 'a problem in the building' or something.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:55 AM on November 14, 2012

Bugs - you'd probably have to get the landlord on board for this. Tell the roommate the place has some kind of bug infestation, terminates maybe because you usually don't see those, and you both have to leave while the house is bombed or treated.

Give her and the boyfriend tickets to some place they really want to go. Say you got them from a friend but can't use them and are giving them to her as a gesture to "rebuild your relationship"

even to pick up her things (so I have to pack everything up whenever she's gone).even to pick up her things (so I have to pack everything up whenever she's gone).

Do you actually have to have the locks changed and all her things packed up on the same day? Can you get the locks changed and pack up some clothes and stuff on Day 1, and then on Day 3 pack up the rest of her stuff and tell her to come get it?
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:56 AM on November 14, 2012

Also, do not continue to allow the fiancé in - he has no legal right to be there. If you cut off the roommates supply line, she'll leave.
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:56 AM on November 14, 2012 [7 favorites]

Real dick move, but tell her the landlord wants her to come in and sign a lease, but she has to go to his office to do it. This is assuming the landlord's office is far enough away. When she gets there, he can tell her that she has been kicked out.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:59 AM on November 14, 2012

The police are not landlord-tenant law experts. Just because police officers have told you that something is legal that does not mean that it is. All they can say is that they won't arrest you for it (although an oral promise from a police officer will be hard to enforce), but you can be sued for illegally changing the locks.

You need to talk to a lawyer.
posted by grouse at 9:59 AM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

For the record, I nth all the suggestions to lawyer up, and IANAL. But I understand, getting in trouble with the law probably only means reimbursing her some dollar figure, as opposed to being stuck living with her. Now, to actually address your question...

Could you have her mail held at the post office on a "vacation" hold? If she stops receiving mail for 30 days or so, she may go investigate.

Can you stop the boyfriend from entering the apartment with the groceries (does he have a key?)?

Can you schedule to get the carpets cleaned?

As mentioned above, I might also just have the locks changed, even if she's there. Does she stay in her room? Would she even know if the locksmith was there, if he was quiet? I wouldn't give her the "I've changed the locks and if you leave expect to find your stuff on the porch" warning though. Also, as long as you're going to the trouble of illegally locking her out, you might need to find a way to confiscate her ID - if she does get locked out, all she has to do is call a locksmith herself and present her photo ID with her/your address on it, and the locksmith will open the door for her.

(On preview - could you just anonymously mail her some tickets to some event that they would like to go to, along the lines of they somehow won the tickets? That way you would have a firm idea of when she might be out of the house)

Ugh, what an ugly situation. Good luck.
posted by vignettist at 10:09 AM on November 14, 2012

Regarding a mail hold, screwing around with someone else's mail in a quick way to dive into felony territory. Please don't add more legal troubles to this plan.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 10:16 AM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not taking any stand on the legality, but:

Buy some itching powder. When she leaves to take a shower, sprinkle it in her bedding such that it won't kick in until she goes back to bed. The next morning, tell her the landlord notified you there are bedbugs in the other apartments, and you just found one. That there are exterminators coming right now. Bedbugs are scary. Freak out. Scratch. Scatter diatomaceous earth. Go the whole nine.

That said, this is a dangerous idea, and I want you to know that, especially if you get her out through trickery. People get violent sometimes when deprived of housing, especially on such short notice. This is a dangerous idea. You will need to leave. You are making yourself a target. If you do this, you may want to avoid the apt yourself for a few.
posted by corb at 10:18 AM on November 14, 2012

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