What is my legal recourse for not being able to look at an apartment?
June 7, 2004 3:45 PM   Subscribe

I just spent a lot of money to get stood up on meeting a guy about an apartment. (more)

After emailing back and forth with a guy about an apartment on craigslist, we decided that I should fly halfway across the country to meet the two prospective roommates and to see the apartment. We agreed that this past weekend would be all right for both of us, but when I deplaned, I had a voicemail from him saying he had a graduation to attend and wouldn’t be available until Saturday night. I called him and we agreed that he would call me “after six” on Saturday night and he would pick me up from the subway stop nearest the apartment.

At 7:45 on Saturday night, I called him and got his voicemail. I left him a message reminding him that I had a plane to catch early the next morning and I was still anxious to see the place. I haven’t heard from him since.

So here I am, over $400 poorer and no place to live in the fall when I start school. My question is, WWMFD? Revenge? Insults? Flame his hotmail box? Send him a bill for my hotel and plane fare (is this possible)?
posted by ArsncHeart to Law & Government (15 answers total)
You probably shouldn't have flown halfway across the country just to see an apartment.
posted by reklaw at 3:55 PM on June 7, 2004

About the only good that can come from this is that you narrowed your list of possible places to live down by one. Sounds like this person is a royal asshole but there's nothing you can do really. I wouldn't advise revenge, it's pointless. You could send a complete coherent email stating that you were severely disappointed in how things went and would like to know why they ignored you.
posted by mathowie at 4:02 PM on June 7, 2004

I agree: revenge, as extraordinarily tempting as it sounds, won't of course do anything constructive and may even backfire on you (especially as you'll be residing in the same city in the fall). But perhaps it might be worth it to file in small claims court? You did have a written agreement to meet up to see the place, after all, and clearly he knew you'd have to spend a substantial sum in order to do so. Maybe that's recoverable, at least in part. Keep all your receipts/emails/etc. just in case. Good luck.
posted by scody at 4:13 PM on June 7, 2004

Response by poster: reklaw: How would I know if I could stand to live with him and his roommate if I didn't meet them face-to-face before I moved in? I've heard enough horror stories...I take comfort in the fact that I didn't agree to live iwth someone who's probably also late on his rent.

mathowie: I know revenge is pointless... I'm working on an email to him now, but I was hoping AskMe would help me get a couple of laughs out of a frustrating situation. Perhaps that's not the right use for AskMe, and if so, feel free to delete my post - and thanks for your reply.
posted by ArsncHeart at 4:15 PM on June 7, 2004

How would I know if I could stand to live with him and his roommate if I didn't meet them face-to-face before I moved in?

Personally, I would have only looked at places when I was going to be in the area anyway, or done something like find some cheap accomodation in the area for a few weeks to a month and look at lots of places in one trip. Flying somewhere just to look at one apartment is asking for it, in my opinion, and I don't think you should have any claim against the guy for your failure to realise that things might go wrong.
posted by reklaw at 4:23 PM on June 7, 2004

I don't think there's anything you can do, really. How much do you know about the guy? If you can find out more, maybe you can do small-claims, but is $400 worth the trouble?

I'd agree that you can send him a strongly worded letter. It won't do any good, but will make you feel better. Since you found it on Craigs list, you can also post a nasty post about him-telling all the information you have on him (name, address of apartment, email address, phone number, etc.) - as often as possible. That should piss him off. Again, won't get you anything, but will make you feel better and maybe get him angry.

Usually AskMe isn't so nasty. Reklaw, I think you owe ArsncHeart an apology.
posted by aacheson at 4:50 PM on June 7, 2004

How about a warning on the appropriate craigslist city rants & raves pasting the ad and saying "don't rent from this guy!". It will make him have to advertise on a different free venue, and having the added bonus of you performing a public service along with extracting your few ounces of flesh.
posted by vito90 at 5:00 PM on June 7, 2004

The guy made a written commitment to meet, then a verbal commitment to pickup at the re-scheduled time/place. Taking the guy at his word is not "asking for it".

ArsncHeart, for the future always schedule viewings/meetings at more than one apt at a time. Not only because someone may flake, but also because if the room/roomies are not to your liking then you're SOL if there's no backup to see. In the meantime, I see no harm in politely pointing out to the guy that you shelled out a good deal of money at his behest and he bailed on you--twice--so would he please be a decent guy and pass you something to defray the costs of this wasted trip. Sure, he may ignore the request; but on the other hand he might see your point.

It's harsh to be out so much money, but consider it well-spent if he just saved you from signing a contract that's got his name on it too. Who knows what kind of bills for unpaid rent, utils, etc. he might have eventually left you with. Ouch.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 5:18 PM on June 7, 2004

I don't think it's vengeful or out of line to advertise this shitheel's name and address / phone number, along with an account of what happened, on the very forum where his room is up for rent. I bet CL will support an allegation of fraud in this case, inasmuch as they get involved at all.

I dunno what you should have done differently. Perhaps as reklaw said, having more options than just one when you got there would have been a cautious preparation. But I don't think it's your fault you got fucked.

If you think losing $400 on the trip is bad, imagine if you'd just signed on sight unseen. I can very well imagine you signing on to rent this room, sight unseen, and then packing and moving out there only to find out that - oop! we gave the room to someone else who's already in it now. Sorry!

You got fucked, ArsncHeart, and it's not your fault. reklaw's hindsight is 20/20, but nevermind.
posted by scarabic at 5:40 PM on June 7, 2004

Reklaw, I think you owe ArsncHeart an apology.

For offering an honest opinion? Hopefully he'll think ahead in future.
posted by reklaw at 6:24 PM on June 7, 2004

ArsncHeart , here's another way to look at it. Imagine you had flown out, the guy had met you as he was supposed to, and upon meeting your potential roomates you had discovered they were total assholes that you could never stand to live with. You would have been in the exact same circumstance you're in now - out $400 and with no apartment lined up. The only difference in your current situation is that you were spared the pain of meeting the assholes in person.

Probably your best bet in this situation would have been to line up a bunch of apartments to look at on the Saturday you flew out. That way if one didn't pan out, the next one might have been okay.

Good luck on finding a place.
posted by tdismukes at 6:50 PM on June 7, 2004

How would I know if I could stand to live with him and his roommate if I didn't meet them face-to-face before I moved in?

I did it. I found a place when I was in Paris, looking to return to New York City after a year away. We came to an agreement after a few phone calls and emails. It did turn out to be a bad situation, but it was a three-month temporary sublet, so it put me in a good position to do better. I did a lot better: I have a great roommate, a far-below market rate rent, and I have now lived longer here than any place I've lived since I moved out of my parents' house.

That's what I recommend for you: don't look for perfect long-term housing at a long distance. Find the first halfway-decent place you can get without visiting in person, site unseen, do whatever you can to verify the validity of the situation. Have friends check it out for you. Ask for references. Give them enough money to hold the place, but not enough that they are tempted to run off with it. Then show up on moving day. Have a backup plan, like couches to sleep on, in case it goes awry.

Also, I dunno where you were moving to, but flying halfway across the country to look at an apartment for rent screams to me, a New Yorker, "Weirdo! Nutjob!" I would never blow somebody off if they had already made the trip, but the moment I heard they were very willing to buy a ticket and fly in, I'd be finding a lot of reasons to not let them have the apartment, and making lots of effort to tell them not to bother to fly to look at an apartment for rent. It's just kind of, well, obsessive. Creepy, even.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:02 PM on June 7, 2004

Though I have to say anyone who sings karaoke is cool by me. {sekrit karaoke handshake here}
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:05 PM on June 7, 2004

fly to look at an apartment for rent. It's just kind of, well, obsessive. Creepy, even.

"...we decided that I should fly...we agreed that this past weekend would be all right for both of us" Who's to say he didn't require her to visit before giving a stranger the keys to their place? Even if the trip was solely her idea, I'd assume only that she was serious enough about the apartment that an actual onsite visit was all that was left before finalizing the deal. She's moving long distance, apparently to an area where she doesn't have local friends to fall back on if there's a problem. Wanting to do a final check in person isn't so unusual. When I moved cross country, I flew out to do apt hunting. Gawdawful expensive, but so is lugging your stuff 3000 miles only to pay motel/storage feeds because the new place is uninhabitable, located in a scary neighborhood, reeks of B.O., or whatever else can go wrong. In some cities (*cough*SF) the vacancy rate is so low you can't just snap up another apt when Plan A falls through.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:21 PM on June 7, 2004

posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:22 PM on June 7, 2004

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