my roommate stole furniture?!

pebbleyOctober 4, 2012

Last fall, my friend and I signed a year's lease for an apartment that came furnished. She had to move out early at the beginning of summer, so we found someone else to sublet the rest of the lease and then co-sign the lease with me for another year.

After last year's lease ended in September, I asked the new roommate to co-sign the lease with me. By this point, I had already signed the lease for the apartment; all she had to do was go into the management office and co-sign. She kept putting it off, giving various excuses. I made the mistake of believing her and she still has not signed - currently, the apartment is under my name only.

Starting about a few weeks ago, she had slowly been moving her things out to her boyfriend's place and spending less and less time at our apartment. Finally, this morning, she called to with the excuse of asking me when I was free to meet. I gave her a time block when I was busy, but told her I would be in the apartment the rest of the time. Apparently, she took advantage of the time that I told her I would be out to completely empty the apartment of her things and take a few of the furniture furnished by the apartment! Specifically, she has taken the coffee table and drawers given by the apartment as well as a desk my friend (and former roommate) left behind.

She has paid rent until September, and handed me a check for October, but conveniently forgot to sign it so that I could not deposit it. She has made no further indication that she would co-sign the lease and continue to pay rent, even if she would actually be living elsewhere. I'm also having a very hard time contacting her (aside from the her call to me this morning), whether through phone, email, facebook, etc - she simply does not reply. As a side issue, she has not been paying me for utilities either.

When I saw that all her things as well of some of the apartment furniture was missing today, I immediately had the locks changed and plan to tell her that if she needs to get back into the apartment she needs to contact me for the keys first. I'm hoping this way, she will contact me so that I can ask her to return the apartment furniture and ask whether she is officially moving out.

Was I right to do this? What else should I do if she does not return the apartment furniture?

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Well for a start, I'd be letting her know the furniture better show up today or you'll be involving the police. Otherwise since you're the only signatory to the lease, you will be held responsible for it.
You may have to write off the rent and utilities, and definitely look for another roommate.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 3:00AM
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You could make an itemized list of everything that is owed, including replacement cost of the furniture and sue her in small claims court.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 8:46AM
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If she has taken everything she owns out of the apartment, I doubt she has any plans to come back. I'd start looking for a new roommate now. You are going to be on the hook for the entire rent every month until you find a new roomie. I think she very carefully led you along until she could get all her things out of the apartment and move in with her boyfriend. I highly doubt she's planning to return.

I doubt you are going to get any money from her unless you involve Small Claims court. Or at least threaten her with that. Or the police.

I really hope you have an address for her boyfriend's place, because I think she is just going to ignore every electronic attempt you make to get in touch with her.

I'm sorry you are having to deal with this. It happened to me once in college. My roommate left, owing me two months rent. When the next phone bill arrived, she'd run up $400 in phone calls. This was back in 1985, so that was a lot of phone calls. I knew where she had moved to and I also knew her parents, so I just made all their lives miserable until I got some money from them--one month's rent and the phone charges. I was still out a month's rent, but it was better than nothing.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 5:16PM
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She's history. Call the police re: stolen furniture.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 8:28PM
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