Should I sue my ex-roommate?

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17-09-2007 16:42:29

~~Disclaimer I'm all pissed off and riled up at the moment, so this might seem like an incoherent post. Also, no, I'm not FOAFY (no harm intended P), but I would like your opinions~~

Alright, so, today while I'm at school, I decided to call the rental office of the apartment complex I just moved out from to check and see if we were getting anything back from our security/damage deposit. The building administrator-lady said she was bringing up my file, but seems to recall that I didn't get anything. I was a little puzzled by this, as when I did our out inspection, the inspector was very pleased, and didn't say there was anything really wrong with the apartment (leading me to believe that they wouldn't do any repairs, meaning we'd get our deposit back).

Well, when she finally gets my file up and sorted out, she informs me that there were no big charges to the damage deposit from our apartment; however, there was an outstanding balance on our account. I think to myself "WTF?". She keeps going over it, and informs me that it was owed from my roommate's account (we'll call her Mavis). The administrator-lady tells me that Mavis didn't pay August's rent, nor did she pay July's rent. Right at that time, my heart began to sink.

The admin. continues to tell me that because our damage deposit was only $422.50, and that she missed TWO months rent ($281 per month + a $25 bounced-cheque charge per month = $613ish), that we actually still OWE them. And, because Mavis' account didn't have enough funds to cover the remaining ~$180, that me and my girlfriend would be the ones getting charged.

Okay, now, don't let me fool you into thinking this was a one-time occurrence. Out of the 12 months we (Mavis, my girlfriend, and myself) lived together, Mavis was late paying rent at LEAST 6 times. There was also more than once (not including the above example) that my girlfriend and I had to pay for Mavis' part of the rent (we later, MUCH later, got reimbursed). Add to this that Mavis washed the dishes a total, of MAYBE 6 times; gave the apartment a general cleaning (used very loosely) maybe 3 times; continuously ate our food; and was just a general cow to live with, and you have one very pissed me. She also forced us to reschedule our out inspection for another day, because she was STILL LIVING THERE, after we gave her fair warning to leave. And, when she finally DID leave, she left enough of her stuff there that I had to spend an hour throwing it all out.

There was already one point in time that she owed me and my girlfriend approximately $700 between the two of us. We got that more or less cleared up, only to have her screwing us again and owing us another $600?! What. The. Fuck?! Seriously. And some of the times she owed us money, she could have paid us back, but didn't! There were many times when we'd go into her room to get dishes (not only did she not wash them, she left them in her room to grow diseases), and we'd see that she had bought expensive sunglasses, new clothes, or hair straightener (HER HAIR IS ALREADY STRAIGHT!!), and this is when she owed us $700... nice.

This is why I'm posting this do you guys and gals, specifically those with legal knowledge, think I have sufficient grounds to take her to small claims court? I'd like to try and sue her for at LEAST $1000 what she owes us, plus for our cleaning services, food she ate of ours, plus charges for emotional damage (she caused both my girlfriend and I to max our credit cards, and go into our overdrafts to cover her expenses).

Keep in mind this wouldn't be the first time she's been threatened to be sued. The property owners at the last place she lived threatened to sue her because she had outstanding rent. And, don't lay into me about signing a lease with someone I KNEW had a history of being a shithead, I know it already.

Also, don't tell me that this is what commonly happens with roommates. I've had roommates before, and besides from a little drama, they were fine. NOT like Mavis.

So, there you have it, one loooong post about my cow of a roommate Mavis. Do you all think I could or should sue her? Do you think I should ask for more/less? I don't want to have to pay court fees if the case gets thrown out. Also, what if I do get awarded for my damages, but she can't pay me? She's currently living in a $600/month apartment, which may not seem like a lot, but remember she couldn't afford to pay ~$300/month to live in an apartment with my girlfriend and I!!

I'll probably end up letting her mother know of how terrible a roommate she was. She's only 20, so that might set her straight.

Thanks for reading D


17-09-2007 17:18:22

Have you spoken with her recently? Did she ever acknowledge that she defaulted on what she owed, or are you talking about proceeding directly to suing her after learning of the situation?


17-09-2007 17:29:27

A lawsuit should always be a last resort. Sender her a letter, give her 30 days, then consider suing her.

And you'll never get "emotional damages" in a small claims court. It will just make you look stupid and greedy. You'll never prove it without a full fledged lawyer in a regular case and it won't be worth trying for you.

If you sue, only sue for what you can prove she owes. Bring the paperwork from the apartment and the lease. Make sure you can prove that you paid your half and the remaining balance is her half.

Small claims court costs roughly $50 or so to file and you can include that in the damages. If she doesn't settle with you and you win, she'll have a judgment against her on her credit for 7 years. If you can't get her to pay after you have a judgment then you return to court and can question her about her job, etc. This is where you can get them to garnish her wages. It's not a pretty site, but it can happen.


17-09-2007 17:32:53

Yeah, I would attempt to reach her and demand payment, giving her a reasonable period (30 days?) to make good. Tell her if she doesn't meet those demands, you will take her to court.

Small claims court is inexpensive (usually $50 or less to file) and you represent yourself as the damages involved do not justify paying an attorney. If you have everything well documented, and present your case coherently and intelligently (leave out the emotion), you stand a good chance of winning.

As far as making her pay, the court will see to that. Her bank account holdings and other assets will be assessed, and if she has no assets with which to make payment, the judge can issue a garnishment order against any wages she makes -- they will order the employer to withhold an amount from each paycheck. You may not get it all at once, but you'll get it eventually, and some is better than nothing. If she tries to hide income or otherwise bypass the judgment, she can be held in contempt of a court order and even jailed. The judgment should also be reported on her credit report, which will negatively impact her credit score -- although it doesn't sound like something she is too concerned about at this point, when (if) she matures in a few years and tries to make it on her own, it will hurt given that derogatory credit information remains on your report for a minimum of 7 years.

[ba7be836be7]EDIT[/ba7be836be7] Whoa, cubbieco posted while I was typing that up and said virtually the exact same thing. Brilliant minds and all that. )


17-09-2007 17:42:14



17-09-2007 17:55:49

Wow, thanks for the replies, people.

To straighten things out (I warned that I was riled up) no, I don't plan on suing immediately. I plan to get a-hold of her parents, first. They ought to rip her a new one.

I only found this out today, so we haven't had a chance to discuss it, as of yet. She has no phone, no internet, nothing. She has a cellphone, but she can't afford to buy minutes for it. I personally fail to see how she thinks she can live on her own at $600/month + utilities and an assortment of bills.

Thanks for the info about small claims court, and the "emotional damage" part. I would've looked like a greedy bugger, eh? Now, as for what I could realistically expect to get from her how can I prove she never cleaned, or that she ate our food? Should that be completely omitted, and should I focus on solely on unpaid rent?

Also, what if she can't pay us back, and she only makes enough at her job to pay her rent and bills, nothing else? They can't very well garnish her wages and make her starve. Could they force her to get another job? Or go all "repo man" on her?

One more thing I'm Canadian, so would there be a big difference in the legal proceedings?


17-09-2007 18:07:13

Oh, I totally missed the fact you were from Canada. I have no idea how the Canadian system compares in that regard. I would guess it to be similar.

As far as proving the lack of cleaning or eating your food, that can be a tough one, and totally up to the judge. You can attempt to (reasonably) estimate a dollar value as separate line items on your itemized list of losses or expenses incurred as a result of her action/inaction. Depending on the judge's mood towards both of you, how you present the case and how she defends herself, etc., the judge might get pissed at her irresponsibility and actually award you damages above and beyond what you can document. It happens sometimes. But you can't depend on it.

As to her wages, if she makes anything, they can garnish something. They won't take her entire paycheck, they normally take a portion, either a fixed payment or a percentage.


17-09-2007 19:39:58

I would think you could only go after the "provable" stuff - the money currently owing. Trying to get any payment for you guys maxing out your CCs won't work - you chose to pay her part instead of letting her get evicted. However, you should definitely threaten to sue her if she doesn't pay by a given deadline.


17-09-2007 21:35:24

[quote6e11cdbb70="JennyWren"]I would think you could only go after the "provable" stuff - the money currently owing. Trying to get any payment for you guys maxing out your CCs won't work - you chose to pay her part instead of letting her get evicted. However, you should definitely threaten to sue her if she doesn't pay by a given deadline.[/quote6e11cdbb70]

they had to pay it they all signed a lease together so if she cant pay they will go after them anyways it is better to pay now and sue later because the money will just add up and be more troble