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This Is Why Rental Agreements Exist

, , , , , , | Friendly | March 29, 2022

I was eighteen years old and in my “young, dumb, and naive” stage. I answered a posting on a university campus for someone looking for a roommate. It seemed to be the typical situation — girl in her late teens to early twenties, average-looking apartment, money was tight for her, and she needed to split the costs.

We seemed to be in an agreement with each other, and I readily moved in. One thing she did advise me after I moved in, however, was not to tell anyone I lived there if I was asked because the management (who was located offsite and owned several properties throughout the city) had stated in the lease that it wasn’t allowed unless approved, and the rent would increase for $200 per person. I told her that wouldn’t be a problem and simply had my mail forwarded to a post office box.

The first two months were not anything remarkable. I would do my usual routine of classes, work, gym, studying, and Xbox. We’d make small talk here and there, but it was primarily me going about my business.

Then, one day, I casually paid her my half of the rent, went to classes, and came home to find a sticky note posted on my door.

Note: “I want you out of here — NOW! Start packing and moving!”

I immediately pulled out my phone and called her phone… only to hear it ring in her bedroom, where she clearly wasn’t.

Thinking there was a serious misunderstanding, I called in sick to work and stayed at the apartment to wait for her to return so I could find out what in the world she was upset about.

She didn’t appear until nearly 7:00 that night.

Roommate: “Why don’t you have your stuff packed and ready to go?”

Me: “What… is… your… problem?!”

Roommate: “Flirting with and trying to get at my girlfriend! You thought I wasn’t going to do anything about that?”

Me: “Woah, stop. Define ‘flirting and trying to get at’!”

Roommate: “[Friend] spotted you two riding together in her car—”

Me: “She pulled over and offered me a ride!”

Roommate: “To which you should have said no! Then, with all the flirting and saying things like, ‘Hey, I like that tattoo,’ and, ‘That was a great speech you gave at…’ whatever school group that you probably joined after you saw she was there.”

Me: “Body art fascinates me — if you haven’t noticed from my own full sleeve — and I joined that group after she told me about it and suggested I join!”

Roommate: “Yeah, whatever. I want you out of here by midnight. After that, my brother is gonna come personally remove you, and I’m going to put a deadbolt on the door. Whatever is still in here hits the dump or goes on eBay.”

Her brother worked as a bouncer/doorman at a club. 

Me: “What about the rent I paid you this morning?”

Roommate: “What rent?”

Nasty lesson learned there about paying rent in cash. I spent the evening scrambling to find someone to help me move my things since I didn’t have a vehicle. Fortunately (and embarrassingly) it was my sixteen-year-old sister who lived two hours away that came to the rescue and helped me move my things in her pickup truck. We stored them in a buddy’s garage until I could find a storage rental unit and a truck to rent when businesses opened the next day.

After moving the last of my things and checking into a motel, I spent the night wandering the streets, unable to sleep due to the overwhelming anxiety. My phone rang, and when I noticed it was from my roommate, I texted her.

Me: “You wanted me out. I’m gone. LEAVE ME ALONE!”

And I blocked her number and muted my phone. 

The following morning, I was able to rent a truck and get my things moved into a storage facility. After remembering my phone was still muted, I pulled it out to find forty-four missed calls and twenty-seven unread text messages to the tune of this:

Message: “Hey, you forgot to bring back my keys. I need them back ASAP.”

Message: “Bring back my keys NOW!”

Message: “I’m holding you responsible for everything in this apartment. If anything comes up missing, it’s on you!”

Message: “GIVE ME MY KEYS!”

Message: “Look, I’ll give you the rent money back. Please give me back the keys. I’m going to get in a lot of trouble if I have to have the lock on my door changed because I’ll have to tell the management why!”

Message: “Okay. Obviously, you aren’t going to answer me or bring the keys back. I called the maintenance people pretending to be someone else and asked how much it was gonna cost to change the locks. They told me that aside from being evicted for having an unauthorized occupant living on the premises, they’ll also need to change all the locks in the exterior doors of the building and give new keys to everyone in the building… and then sue me for the total costs because they are special copy-protected keys that the office keeps track of when issuing duplicates! I will pay you DOUBLE your rent back! Bring me back the keys! PLEASE!”

It felt great to have a good laugh in the face of calamity. I texted back.

Me: “No, you go ahead and keep my money. You’ll need it for your U-Haul truck. Besides, with the way you played me dirty by kicking me out on the street with no notice and keeping my money, I wouldn’t put it past you to have your brother waiting for me when I show up to drop off the keys. I suppose I don’t have to tell you the lesson you’re about to learn concerning deliberately screwing people royally to be vindictive. Happy apartment hunting!”

And I dropped the keys in a sewer. I didn’t hear from her again, but I imagine she probably didn’t try that stunt with anyone else. As for me, I definitely learned my lesson about living with people on a trust basis!

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