Roommate situation -- what should I do?

So last year, in September, I moved to Pittsburgh and needed to find a roommate. I found someone off Craigslist: an international student who had recently received her masters and was finishing up a research project. We signed a lease on a 2 bedroom apartment, for September 2010 to July 2011.

A few weeks ago she got a job in New Jersey and decides she has to move out and wants to sublease the apartment. Fine, whatever, I’m not happy about it, but it happens. She moved to New Jersey the same week (!) and put the apartment up on Craigslist. After much hassle, we found someone to sublet the place from April, another nice international student from China. OK, I can handle this, I’m used to living with non-Americans, whatever.

She also gave her apartment key to a friend of hers, who lives in the apartment across the hall. A few days ago I went to NYC for spring break, and I find out that she’s been trying to rent out her room by the day, for $15 on Craigslist! And that her friend has been letting people in to my apartment to see it while I was gone. She told me that some woman named Divine, previously sleeping on a friend’s couch, wanted to stay here until March 31st!

OK, so this is definitely not going to happen. When I got home, the first thing I did was talk to the guy who lives across the hall, and get him to give me her key. Then I sent my roommate a polite but VERY firm letter, telling her that she was not going to be renting out her room by the night. Keep in mind that our lease gives me, as the remaining roommate, all the power in deciding whether or not she is allowed to sublet the place. The management company will definitely back me up on this.

She responded to the email, saying she would not rent the apartment by the day, but she wants me to give the key back to her friend. She is trying to sell some furniture that she’s left here and she also has a few pieces of luggage she left here that she wants him to ship.

I really don’t feel comfortable with this. When I came home, one of the windows in my apartment was unlocked. It opens onto a garage roof that is accessible by fire escape. I am 95% sure that I locked that window before I went on that trip. I’m really careful about it because I once broke into my own house when I locked myself out, and realize how easy it would be to do. It’s within the realm of possibility that I left it unlocked–but unlikely. So yeah, it’s possible that I’m just being paranoid, but I don’t feel happy about this situation at all. I don’t want some guy to have access to my house. I think he’s fine, he seems like a nice guy, but he could let anyone in. I don’t know if he supervises them while they are here–for all I know, they could be casing the joint. Again, paranoid, I know, but seriously!

She has been quite reasonable so far (aside from thinking it was OK to rent the room out by the night…) and has paid the rent for March (albeit a few days late.) I deposited the check yesterday.

What do you think, Dopers, am I obligated to give the key back to him? Is it unreasonable for me to be paranoid?

Well, one point of view is that they’ve paid the rent for March, so they should have access.

What I would do is talk to both the absent roommate and the neighbor, and confirm exactly what the neighbor will use the key for (e.g. the neighbor will only enter the apartment to get stuff to ship, and to show the furniture to potential buyers. The neighbor will always stay in the apartment the entire time anyone else is there, etc.). Send an e-mail to both so it’s in writing.

Then give the neighbor the key. The roommate’s requests to ship stuff and sell furniture are reasonable (though leaving anyone else in the apartment unsupervised is completely unreasonable), so you should let them.

Life is balancing being paranoid and helping other people out (what goes around comes around). I think the right balance here is being very clear about expectations and then helping the sort-of-ex roommate.

Don’t give the key back, either keep it for the next roommate (insist on a month-to-month tenancy so you have at least 30 days between subleasers) or turn it in to the property manager if you already have an extra key. Her friend is clearly unreliable. Your safety and your stuff are at risk here.

If you want her off the lease, tell the management company about the situation–that she’s trying to expose you to a series of strangers on a daily basis (what is this, a freakin’ hotel??) and of safety violations like the window being left unlocked. But that may put you in the position of paying the full amount of rent or finding your own subleasers (or roommate).

Better yet, find someone you want as a roommate and have them sign up to sublease from your roommate.

Not at all. This is completely unacceptable.

Wait, so is anyone else currently living in the apartment besides you?

Ideally, I wouldn’t give the key back. When he’s ready to ship her stuff, or get her furniture, he can come over and get the stuff. Is there a reason he needs unlimited access to your apartment? He probably wants to list the furniture on Craigs List and let people come see it when you’re out. Fuck that shit. He can show it when YOU are home or he can move it into his apartment.

I don’t know if that is kosher though, if she’s current on her half of the rent. She does deserve access to her stuff, but a third party opening your apartment up to psychos off CL is a bad situation.

Just to clarify, I am currently the only person living in the apartment. My roommate (who has paid her rent up until April) has moved to New Jersey, and is apparently not coming back, so this has all been done via phone/email. My roommate and I have together arranged for someone to move in from April 1st - July 31st (the end of the lease). I’m fine with this person moving in. When she arrives, we can add her to the lease and I’ll be (relatively) protected.

What my roommate wanted to do was rent out the room for the duration of March, in order to get back the rent money, so she doesn’t have to pay double rent while she is in New Jersey. When I told her this was not acceptable, she agreed not to rent out the room, but her friend still had the key (until I took it back).

I agree there has to be a balance in trust here, but hey, this is America.:stuck_out_tongue: I don’t think she will try to move someone in now that I told her that treating my apartment like a hotel is not acceptable, but I have no way of knowing for sure. The fact that she thought it was OK shows a pretty serious lack of judgment, in my opinion.

I *think *I might reluctantly agree to give back the key, with an agreement that the friend will remain with anyone who wants to buy something at all times. It’s still a bit risky, but I’m not sure if it’s worth endangering the relationship with him and my (ex-ish)roommate. Plus, it would be more convenient for me if he handles it… oh, I don’t know! :smack: Think I’m going to try to get a studio next year, though!

Ah, that makes it clearer. I didn’t realize that the Chinese student hadn’t moved in yet. Well, if you do give the key back for convenience sake, you should lay down some firm ground rules, including when he’s giving the key back and the people he’s letting into your apartment. Once the other renter moves in, he shouldn’t have a key anymore.

Trying to use your apartment as a $15 hotel is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard, and I agree that it shows this person has no judgment at all or no care for your personal well-being or possessions. Either that, or she was deliberately trying to get you killed by a hobo.

I lean towards the hobo theory myself.

With the additional info you’ve provided, I see no reason for the friend to have a key at all. If he needs to show the furniture or sell it, he can do it while you’re home.

I do not like people in my space so I would volunteer to sell/ship her stuff (which would cost me a lot of time and effort) just so no one else in the city has a key.

If she really want neighbour to do it, he will have to abide your schedule to show people stuff/pick stuff up.

What are you going to do with the old roommate’s furniture when the new roommate moves in? I think I would try to think of a way to get rid of it, perhaps by giving it to the across the hall person.

Count your blessings, she could’ve tried to rent it out by the hour, with the guy across the hall managing the couples renting the room…

As I said, the old roommate is trying to sell it on Craigslist. I don’t know what she will do if she can’t sell it in time.

After I informed my roommate that I now had her key, she has started sending me frantic messages about giving it back to her friend. When I sent a polite message suggesting that her friend-across-the-hall keep her stuff in his apartment and that she send me the people who were interested in buying her stuff, she freaked out and just now sent me a message threatening me with the police and/or our management company! What a nutcase.

I promptly informed her that in America, the police don’t give a shit about her ridiculous problems. :stuck_out_tongue: Also, that our management company probably wouldn’t be overjoyed that she was attempting to rent out our house by the day. Also, that unless I agreed to let her sublet the apartment, she would be on the hook for rent until July. I’m sorry that it had to escalate to this, but really–it looks like I’m DEFINITELY not giving back the key now.

Of course, I’m still fine with this other girl subletting the room, but doesn’t she realize that I have most of the power in this situation? What a nutter.

This. Totally this. Your now-in-NJ roomie may be entitle to access since she paid rent until April, but not some other random guy.

She has two choices,

  1. Her friend can schedule “furniture viewings” when you are home.
  2. He can house all of her crap at his place and show it off any time he likes.

ETA: At my old place, the building management would have gone apeshit if they found out anyone was subletting the room on a nightly basis.

Not paranoid at all. I wouldn’t want strangers traipsing through my home when I’m not there and haven’t vetted them ahead of time.

Neighbor can have access to the apartment when you are there to give it to him. That is a perfectly reasonable way to accommodate them. If he can’t work with your schedule to sell the furniture and retrieve the luggage (why didn’t she just give him the luggage to hold onto until shipping in the first place?), that’s not your problem. She may deserve access to her stuff, but she’s not there, and there’s no good reason to allow strangers to access it. If they want unlimited access to the stuff, yes, he can store it in his place instead. Your safety is more important than her stuff, frankly.

I wouldn’t give a key to anyone who thought it was okay to let strangers in my home behind my back without even asking me how I felt about it. Doing so indicates that ex-roommate and neighbor are either really dumb, or real assholes.

Wait a sec.

You ACCEPTED her money for the March rent, but you consider the apartment 100% yours? You don’t get to keep other peoples money and then call all the shots. The place is half hers through March 31st. It doesn’t matter that she isn’t living there. She can rent 50 apartments all at once if she is so inclined. She paid for it. It’s up to her to use it or not.

If you want this all on your terms, then give her back the March rent she paid you. Right now you are stopping someone who has rightfully paid for the premises from using them.

I don’t agree with this. She left the OP in the lurch. It sucks that the person she found to replace her and that the OP is okay with can only move in in a month, but the OP agreed to live with her, not her and anyone she can find on Craigslist.

Wrong. SHE is allowed to use the apartment. SHE is allowed to live in the apartment, because she is on the lease. No one else. Under my lease, subletting is not permitted unless I agree. The management company made this very clear. I signed a lease agreement with my roommate, not random crazy woman from Craigslist.

And I don’t consider the apartment 100% mine–if she comes back from New Jersey, she’s welcome to move back in. I will, of course, give her the key. She’s not allowed to let random strangers traipse through my apartment while neither of us is around. I will let her use the apartment by facilitating any time her friend wants to come in and sell her stuff/send her stuff off, but I’m not giving some random guy a key to my apartment.

Not at all. If she wanted to come back I’m sure the OP would have no issue handing her back her key but in a shared house (or even technically in any rental) situation you can’t just give someone else your rights. Ie, guy across the hall and random CL renters.

Almost forgot, to the OP. Keep the key.


Nutter it is.

Like Tanaqui says, SHE has the right to access the apartment, not random people she gives the key to. I think the neighbour taking the stuff or Tanaqui giving him access to show it (when he’s home) is perfectly reasonable - the ex-roommate is NOT being reasonable, expecting Tanaqui to be okay with not knowing who is in his apartment.

The rent by the day thing was weird, too - if you have to jam on a lease and it costs you a month’s rent, that’s the cost of making that decision. Too bad, so sad.

ETA: Forgot to say, yeah, keep the key. This is getting too weird.

Are your keys special “Do Not Copy” security keys? If not, it is possible that your roommate and/or neighbor have already made additional copies. You may want to explain the situation to your landlord and ask to have the lock rekeyed. Anyone on the lease can pick up a new key in person from the landlord.