• FreeAdvice has a new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, effective May 25, 2018.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our Terms of Service and use of cookies.

I Hardly Know Where To Begin - Major Roommate Troubles

Accident - Bankruptcy - Criminal Law / DUI - Business - Consumer - Employment - Family - Immigration - Real Estate - Tax - Traffic - Wills   Please click a topic or scroll down for more.


Junior Member
State: Washington State
County: King

Goal: Primarily protect myself in any way possible; to sue would be a huge bonus.

Short summary: We'll call him "Dave". Dave has been an on-lease roommate with me since early March '14. Since June, Dave has not paid into any bill(renter's insurance, electricity, internet) besides the main rent(which has water/sewer/garbage lumped in). The total in bills is over $200 now. Additionally, he just told me tonight that he hasn't even paid his half of the rent that was due December 1st, isn't going to at all, and that we are going to be evicted.

Details: I got Dave off Craig's List after my first roommate and I agreed to quit living together and she was released from the lease. Dave agreed to pay me a deposit equal to his half of one month's rent in addition to the first month upon moving in. On move-in day, he gave me the month's rent but only half the deposit($280 out of $560), saying that he'd have the other half in two weeks. Since he seemed like a perfect candidate besides this one small issue, I agreed that this would be ok. Dave was not quite on the lease yet, which is required by the company that owns this apartment complex, but the paperwork was in progress. Our agreement was that this deposit would sit in an otherwise-unused saving's account of mine for the duration our our living together, and provided that Dave had not 1) Stolen from me to any degree, 2) failed to pay any bills, 3) skipped out before the lease was up, or 4) generally acted like an a-hole, he would get the deposit back in full at the time that we ceased to be roommates.

However, I made it clear in my original Craig's List ad and in subsequent texts prior to his moving in that I was in dire straights financially, my only job unable to fully pay my bills, and that I would likely resort to temporarily using the deposit to cover any amount I was short in my half of the bills until I'd secured a better job, could support myself, and replenish any part of the deposit that I'd used.

A week and a half or so after Dave moved in, the paperwork was finished and he was officially on the lease, and rather than provide the other half of the deposit we'd agreed upon, he demanded the first half back. Safe to say, but we reached a stalemate on that front. I never got the second half of the deposit and I did not return the first half. And true to the warning in my ad, in April and May I used portions of the deposit to cover my bills.

Again in May, on the 4th(rent is due on the 1st, but no late fees are applied until the 6th of the month), two days after I'd paid rent, Dave informed me that he was short by exactly $280 on his half of the rent, and demanded the full deposit to cover himself. He was enraged to 'discover' that most of it was gone, citing that I'd never told him I had planned to use any of the deposit for myself, and also that I never told him that I in fact did each time(I did, on each day that I withdrew, tell him exactly how much of the deposit I was using; I might as well, since I'd initially made it clear that he could request to see the contents of the savings account at any time). He furthermore claimed that this was theft and argued that I would have to pay him back in full lest he take me to court. Considering the fact that I couldn't pay my own bills as it was, I wholly ignored whatever B.S. payment schedule he came up with, as I couldn't have handed him money any of the times he asked had I even wanted to do so.

June came around, and on the 5th or 6th I learned that Dave had purchased a van. This purchase and subsequent/related purchased left Dave with no income for the entire month. He had not bought himself any food, and could afford none of his bills. At this point I should mention that I am on the SNAP(food stamps) program, and buy most of my month's food at the beginning of the month, and schedule/portion my meals in advance. Up through this point we'd have a loose policy of "if you want some of something the other guy bought, go ahead, but don't hog it". For example, he can by all means make a sandwich with my supplies, but if he's going to use more than half of my supplies in a short period, he should go buy his own sandwich stuff instead. Well, in a week and a half my 30-day food supply was gone. He'd eaten through everything I hadn't, at least twice as much food as I had, even though after the one-week mark I had specifically told him he needed to buy his own food. Only then did I learn he was broke, and was specifically told he would not quit eating anything he could physically get at, because "I'm not someone who goes to the food bank" to quote him, as well as assertions that I owed him for the deposit still. It's also worth noting that at one point a few weeks prior to this point he had filed for Food Stamps/SNAP based on letters I noticed arriving in the mail, but one letter left lying around open stated that he had never gone in on appointment to finalize his benefits, and thus he never got coverage.

((I apologize if this is way too much information. I just don't want to miss anything))

More recently, the lease has been a major point of contest between us. Neither of us is permitted to leave the lease unless the other(all tenants, specifically) sign off permission for the tenant in question to leave. As of tonight, Dave has informed me that he never paid for the rent due December 1st, that we are going to be evicted as a result whenever the paperwork goes through, and that he will be moving out most likely by Saturday, December 20th. This follows verbal threats two weeks ago to the effect that, come January 1st, I will sign him off the lease "one way or another", as well as other vague threats on that same day that he will be seeking legal and/or civil action against me.

I think I've covered all the main points... I'll field any and all questions as soon as possible. My current 'battle plan' is trying to locate a local lawyer who offers free consultation and who specializes in either evictions or household disputes of some kind, but I am completely inexperienced in legal matters and am having a tough time figuring out what my options are and what I should be doing. That said, I'll do my absolute best to facilitate any and all help/advice that can be provided. Thank you to anyone who read and/or comprehended this monstrosity.

Bonus Points: If anyone can assist me with a secondary goal. A few weeks ago my most most beloved pet cat, Runa, died in my hands. I couldn't afford new food for her in the weeks leading to her death and received some food as a gift from my friend. This was at the same time that I got a new job, and I didn't notice that Runa wasn't eating(I had two cats and an auto-feeder, so food levels weren't much indication and the litter box was being used daily). Dave not paying his bills left me unable to get food she would eat and, when I noticed that she wasn't well and got her checked out at the vet, I was entirely unable to afford any of the recommended treatments that could have saved her life; the amount Dave owed me in unpaid bills was in slight excess of the vet fees I'd have needed to pay in order to treat her. For these reasons she died, and if at all possible - I think it's a stretch but I know nothing for sure - I would love to sue Dave for her cremation, the tiny token treatments(a shot of B12 to keep her alert and an ineffective appetite-stimulant pill) I was able to afford, and for emotional damages.

Again, thank you to anyone and everyone who so much as read all this, even if nothing comes of it.


Junior Member
Sorry about the late response, it's been a busy few days.

I asked a personal security deposit, separate from anything to do with the landlord company. I explained it as assurance for myself that the stranger I'd be letting in to the apartment would maintain a positive relationship with me, and that since all the security deposits and fees associated with the lease had already been paid when I initially moved in months earlier, they wouldn't have to pay both myself and the landlord company. Dave agreed to this readily in e-mail and text message form, and again in person when he handed over the first half of the deposit. Unfortunately, the e-mail records were via Craig's List's e-mail relay, so none of his personal information is attached to the messages, and I don't think I can link his identity to them for the purposes of court and my text records are not intact.

I'm mostly concerned with the later events, though, particularly with any way I can protect myself from having an eviction on my record if he forces one, and any legal method by which I can force him to pay up on the bills he's been avoiding.


Senior Member
Unless you're subletting to Dave, I don't think you have any right to a "security deposit" from him. That right would fall to the landlord whom Dave has a lease agreement with. Your recourse would have been to have Dave pay the landlord his half of the security deposit and have the landlord refund to you half of your deposit.

The way to prevent eviction is to pay the rent. I'll go out on a limb and guess there's language in your lease agreement to the effect of both parties being "jointly and severally" responsible for the rent. That means both of you are fully responsible for the rent being paid, both of you can be evicted, both of you can be referred to collection agencies, and both of you can be sued.

As far as the bills, you should sue Dave for his unpaid amounts.

In the future, you should select accommodations that you can afford on your salary alone. Roommates are nothing but trouble.


Junior Member
1. Dave's an ahole.
2. Get as much info on him as you can (real name, last name etc. license plate #). He can easily disappear and if you need to sue him, good luck finding him.
3. With Craigslist strangers, the lease should always be month to month so if they suck, you can fire them.
4. Talk to the management company. They might help you and be flexible (or they might want to rent to someone who is more financially stable and not help you).

If you are evicted, answer right away. There may be a law-firm they may provide legal services for free or low-cost; look them up. Sometimes, you can make a motion (ask the court for something) to not have your eviction reported to the credit-scoring companies.

Find the Right Lawyer for Your Legal Issue!

Fast, Free, and Confidential