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Dear Todd Parker - (09/02/15)

September 1, 2015
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I'm a student getting ready for my last year of college. A couple of friends and I have been living in the same place for a couple of years now. It's not a great place, but it's convenient to campus and relatively cheap, so we like it.

Here's the problem this year, my roommate Steve (his name's not really Steve) decided that he wasn't going to stay in town this summer and got a job elsewhere. He left in mid-May.

Here's the thing one of the things that we talked about when he left was that he still needed to cover his share of the rent. My other roommate and I said that we'd cover the rest of the expenses electricity and internet and cable and stuff because Steve wouldn't be using them. But we still had a lease, so we still needed to pay. We told him that we didn't care if he did a sublet or whatever, but he needed to cover his share.

Well, as soon as he was out of here, he decided that he didn't want anyone staying in his room, but that he also didn't want to pay his share of the rent. Unfortunately, he told us that he was. We have a property manager and we each deliver our rent separately, so imagine my surprise when I come home to a note on my door saying that we were past due on rent and that we needed to pay up ASAP. Turns out, he didn't even pay for May, so that's four months where he didn't pay.

I tried e-mailing him and calling him, but he won't answer. I don't even know for sure if he's planning on coming back to live here or even if he's coming back at all. What do I do?

Broke in Orono

Dear Broke,

Ah, yes the classic finances between friends debacle. Well, pal, I'm sorry to be the one to break it to you, but I'm pretty sure Steve isn't coming back.

Oh, he might be coming back to school. He might even be coming back to the neighborhood. But he is not coming back to your house. You and your other roommate are pretty much screwed. Your name is on the lease, man you are responsible for that money. You can try and explain the situation to the property manager, who might cut you a break, but don't count on it.

Sure, you could turn this into a whole legal thing, but that will almost definitely wind up costing you even more money than you already owe. Your good pal Steve has left you holding the bag.

My question to you is simple did Steve take his stuff with him? Is there anything of value remaining in his room that you might be able to sell? You need to sell every stick of furniture and every stitch of clothing. If there's anything resembling electronics, put an ad on Craigslist ASAP. Have a yard sale. After that, any stuff you guys want, keep it. Donate the rest of it. Or throw it away. Or set it on fire. Do whatever you like, so long as he can't get it back even if he wants it.

You've learned a hard lesson, man you never know who you can trust. It sucks to be betrayed by a friend like that, though it's pretty clear that this guy was never really your friend in the first place. But I'll bet that you won't get fooled again.

Also: feel free to share this story with anyone and everyone in your mutual social circle. Make sure everybody knows just what a deceitful and untrustworthy jackbag this dude is. The best part? You don't even have to lie; just tell the story as is and Steve's dance card will rapidly empty.

And next time you're making this kind of arrangement? Get that st in writing.

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