When Tom Bentley moved to Seattle, his plan was to live with a friend. He didn’t think that, instead, he’d be sharing the apartment with a stranger.
“(My friend) left me in this one-room apartment with a guy he’d invited to stay for a few days,” Bentley tells MainStreet. “(The man) had just been discharged from a psychiatric hospital for trying to stab his father with kitchen knife and then plunging through a second story plate glass window.”
Bentley explains that his friend then left town for a few months, allowing this man to take up permanent residence in their now-shared home. Not surprisingly, this wasn’t a match made in heaven. According to Bentley, his new roommate would howl at night, smoke, share strange sexual theories and leave open soup cans in the refrigerator for later consumption.
While Bentley’s experience is extreme (we hope), he’s certainly not the only person out there who has a bad roommate. Unfortunately, getting rid of your problematic pad pal is not as easy as, say, getting your security deposit back from a greedy landlord.
“Before accepting a roommate, you may want to think twice,” Scott Paxton, Director of the Rental Protection Agency, warns. “Resolving roommate disputes can be ugly and downright difficult.”
Scott Behren, a lawyer at Behren Law Firm, agrees, saying “if your name is not on the lease, you have limited options.” However, he adds that leaseholders shouldn’t go changing the locks or throwing a roommate’s personal possessions on the streets either. Tenants who signed a lease can be held accountable for kicking a roommate to the curb. (They can, also, as Paxton points out, be in breach of this lease as most landlords prohibit subletting to avoid the types of problems we are talking about, so those looking to take on a roommate to save some money should read their signed agreements carefully.)