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Legal Help

siliconenhancedsiliconenhanced __BANNED USERS
edited March 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
Alright, here's the situation:

Around the end of last September, I talked to a high school friend of mine who needed a roommate. Our agreement was we'd each pay half the rent ($400/month per person), and I'd do the housework and she'd cover the utilities. So far so good.

However, about three weeks ago, when I mentioned relocating because of my job, she confronts me with this list of "back utilities" I owe her, and tells me that I need to pay these off before I go anywhere, or else she's taking me to small claims court. Mind you, its about $700 for November - February. Uh oh. So I tell her if she wants to change our original agreement, that's fine, but she needs to start doing housework before I pony up anything, and that she wasn't getting anything as far as back utilities went.

So yesterday, she tells me I need to have $730 dollars for her, "or else". So I end up telling her I'm moving out that day.

Now, here's the thing:

- Our agreement was totally over myspace messages and AIM logs. She claims I said one thing, I say the other.

- I never signed a lease with anyone about anything. It was generally a month to month thing, but she tended to act like I signed a lease w/o actually signing one.

- Her mother is a Justice of the Peace, and I really don't want to get caught up in an influence power play.

So, any advice/further clarification?

siliconenhanced on
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Posts

  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2007
    Do you have documented evidence that shows that she said she would cover the utilities?

  • FellhandFellhand Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Her mother being a justice doesn't mean shit unless you want to marry her or if you have back taxes for the town.

    Stick to your guns about the agreement and bring up any documentation you can. Make copies so you have the originals. A verbal agreement is still an agreement. I'd try talking to her with said evidence before giving her the big fat fuck you.

  • NucshNucsh Registered User
    edited March 2007
    Well, there's no documented agreement between you two that you both had to pay half, and you're not on the lease.

    I see her blowing smoke, but if you owe something out of the agreement you know you made, take the high road and pay up.

    [SIGPIC]GIANT ENEMY BEAR[/SIGPIC]
  • misbehavinmisbehavin Registered User
    edited March 2007
    If you kept the MySpace messages and log your AIM conversations, then you have very little to worry about. If you DIDN'T, then all she would have to do is prove you lived there, and then you would likely owe her the money.

    Dig up all the evidence you can that proves your agreement, because if you can, an oral contract IS legally binding, and you would owe nothing.

    Spoiler:
  • siliconenhancedsiliconenhanced __BANNED USERS
    edited March 2007
    Doc wrote: »
    Do you have documented evidence that shows that she said she would cover the utilities?

    I'm looking through Myspace and AIM logs the moment I get home.

    I'm in Delaware, BTW. I've been looking through the tenant/landlord laws here, and it seems they all revolve around the entire "signing a lease" thing. How much does that matter, because I assumed that if I didn't sign a lease, things worked a hell of a lot differently.

    Fellhand: It was pretty much a nuclear blowout last night when I was moving out, with her trying to pick fights with me and my friends and generally standing in the way of us while we were moving. If it wasn't for a threat to call the cops, she probably would have kept up the harassment.

  • misbehavinmisbehavin Registered User
    edited March 2007
    Doc wrote: »
    Do you have documented evidence that shows that she said she would cover the utilities?

    I'm looking through Myspace and AIM logs the moment I get home.

    I'm in Delaware, BTW. I've been looking through the tenant/landlord laws here, and it seems they all revolve around the entire "signing a lease" thing. How much does that matter, because I assumed that if I didn't sign a lease, things worked a hell of a lot differently.

    Fellhand: It was pretty much a nuclear blowout last night when I was moving out, with her trying to pick fights with me and my friends and generally standing in the way of us while we were moving. If it wasn't for a threat to call the cops, she probably would have kept up the harassment.

    Do you... I mean, did you ever date this girl, or anything? That kind of behavior is very odd, even for a situation like this.

    Spoiler:
  • NucshNucsh Registered User
    edited March 2007
    If you never co-signed a lease, you were never legally obligated to pay your side of the rent. If you never co-signed a utility agreement, then you were never legally obligated to pay your part of the utilities.

    If she threatens to take you to court, and she can't prove anything outside of a "verbal agreement", chances are you'll get out without having to pay anything. But I'll say it again, if you really do owe something, then man up.

    Also, if you can find some sort of log, and you do go to court, it will override her claim of a verbal agreement. (under my understanding of basic law and court systems, I could be wrong)

    [SIGPIC]GIANT ENEMY BEAR[/SIGPIC]
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2007
    That's why you never live with a crazy person. Almost all landlord-tenant agreements are dependent upon a lease, but she could still take you to small claims court (and win), if there is evidence on her side.

  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2007
    Nucsh wrote: »
    If you never co-signed a lease, you were never legally obligated to pay your side of the rent. If you never co-signed a utility agreement, then you were never legally obligated to pay your part of the utilities.

    If she threatens to take you to court, and she can't prove anything outside of a "verbal agreement", chances are you'll get out without having to pay anything. But I'll say it again, if you really do owe something, then man up.

    Also, if you can find some sort of log, and you do go to court, it will override her claim of a verbal agreement. (under my understanding of basic law and court systems, I could be wrong)

    It should be noted that small claims court isn't necessarily about who's legally right. If you agree to live in a place and agreed to pay for part of the rent, you sure as hell could be found liable in small claims court, even without a lease.

  • NucshNucsh Registered User
    edited March 2007
    Doc wrote: »
    Nucsh wrote: »
    If you never co-signed a lease, you were never legally obligated to pay your side of the rent. If you never co-signed a utility agreement, then you were never legally obligated to pay your part of the utilities.

    If she threatens to take you to court, and she can't prove anything outside of a "verbal agreement", chances are you'll get out without having to pay anything. But I'll say it again, if you really do owe something, then man up.

    Also, if you can find some sort of log, and you do go to court, it will override her claim of a verbal agreement. (under my understanding of basic law and court systems, I could be wrong)

    It should be noted that small claims court isn't necessarily about who's legally right. If you agree to live in a place and agreed to pay for part of the rent, you sure as hell could be found liable in small claims court, even without a lease.


    Did not know this.

    This however seems retarded, because what's stopping me from taking anyone I live with to court over any fee that I can think of?

    [SIGPIC]GIANT ENEMY BEAR[/SIGPIC]
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2007
    Nucsh wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    Nucsh wrote: »
    If you never co-signed a lease, you were never legally obligated to pay your side of the rent. If you never co-signed a utility agreement, then you were never legally obligated to pay your part of the utilities.

    If she threatens to take you to court, and she can't prove anything outside of a "verbal agreement", chances are you'll get out without having to pay anything. But I'll say it again, if you really do owe something, then man up.

    Also, if you can find some sort of log, and you do go to court, it will override her claim of a verbal agreement. (under my understanding of basic law and court systems, I could be wrong)

    It should be noted that small claims court isn't necessarily about who's legally right. If you agree to live in a place and agreed to pay for part of the rent, you sure as hell could be found liable in small claims court, even without a lease.


    Did not know this.

    This however seems retarded, because what's stopping me from taking anyone I live with to court over any fee that I can think of?

    The fact that they never agreed to it, and the desire not to have someone beat the shit out of you for being an ass? Plus judges can see through bullshit really, really well. It's their job. If they think you are going after someone in a malicious way, they will make you hurt.

  • YarYar Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I'm no judge, but I see it playing out this way:

    "I'm not on the lease or the utilities, but our agreement was that I'd do housework and she'd pay utilities."

    Judge: "Then you don't owe anyone anything."

    But yeah, something strange is going on here. Her harrassment doesn't add up. Also, do you have any record of paying your share of the rent? Pay by check?

  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2007
    Yar wrote: »
    I'm no judge, but I see it playing out this way:

    "I'm not on the lease or the utilities, but our agreement was that I'd do housework and she'd pay utilities."

    Judge: "Then you don't owe anyone anything."

    But yeah, something strange is going on here. Her harrassment doesn't add up. Also, do you have any record of paying your share of the rent? Pay by check?

    I agree. I just wanted to make him aware that he won't be off the hook entirely just because he doesn't have a lease.

  • RoundBoyRoundBoy Registered User
    edited March 2007
    Not on the lease ? The LANDLORD has no right to come after you for rent.

    Name not on the utilities? The power company, etc has no right to come after you for payments.

    Get the canceled checks for your rent or the receipts you have (you *do* have either RIGHT?) .. if you have documentation showing that you paid 1/2 her rent for x months ... and nothing else.. you are in the clear.

    if you paid cash, etc then you have a harder time to prove what you paid vs what you should have paid.

    sig_civwar.jpg
    Librarians harbor a terrible secret. Find it.
  • The Green Eyed MonsterThe Green Eyed Monster i blame hip hop Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Yar wrote: »
    I'm no judge, but I see it playing out this way:

    "I'm not on the lease or the utilities, but our agreement was that I'd do housework and she'd pay utilities."

    Judge: "Then you don't owe anyone anything."

    But yeah, something strange is going on here. Her harrassment doesn't add up. Also, do you have any record of paying your share of the rent? Pay by check?
    Yeah -- I was under the impression if it's not in your name, it's not your responsibility, but Doc seems to say otherwise.

    And yeah the harassment thing here is weird, and her mother is a judge? That may or may not be a problem for you, I'm not positive how those things work.

    wisdom wrote:
    if knowledge is power and power corrupts, be smart, be evil
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    You have at least some evidence on your side, because why did these "back utilities" just come up all of a sudden? You've been paying rent for the past several months, and for some reason she waits until now to decide you owe utilities, too (that's what it'll look like on paper, anyhow). If you can find the logs, that would be best.

    You won't necessarily for-sure win this, but you've probably got a good shot at it. With no lease agreement, and you living in the same space, I doubt you even count as a tenant; I'm pretty sure you're just a boarder, or, at least, you would be in California.

    I'd move out and forget about her until she tries to sue you. She may very well just be making empty threats. Just because her mother is a Justice of the Peace doesn't mean she knows anything about the law.

    Also, if she starts harassing you from here, call the cops on her immediately. You want to start up a history of her being crazy ASAP.

  • The Green Eyed MonsterThe Green Eyed Monster i blame hip hop Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Thanatos wrote: »
    I'd move out and forget about her until she tries to sue you. She may very well just be making empty threats. Just because her mother is a Justice of the Peace doesn't mean she knows anything about the law.
    Exactly -- it may just mean she's a little psychotic and is trying to bully you into doing what she wants by using threats she thinks she can build up. Basically you should probably call her bluff.

    wisdom wrote:
    if knowledge is power and power corrupts, be smart, be evil
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2007
    celery77 wrote: »
    Yeah -- I was under the impression if it's not in your name, it's not your responsibility, but Doc seems to say otherwise.

    I'm saying it can be your responsibility. She is 100% responsible for getting the full amount to the landlord if that's the contract she signed. If you had an agreement with her to pay for half of the rent, then it's an agreement with her, not the landlord, and it's not covered by the lease.

    But you payed for your share of the rent as well as doing housework to pay for utilities (which sounds kind of sketchy, actually. I mean, I could pay for a part-time maid with the cost of utilities in my place), which was, from what you say, the agreement that you guys came to. So you held up to your end of the bargain. I'd expect the judge to rule as such.

  • The Green Eyed MonsterThe Green Eyed Monster i blame hip hop Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Also am I misunderstanding that even if he went to small claims and lost, the worst that would happen is that he would just have to pay the $730 she's demanding anyway?

    wisdom wrote:
    if knowledge is power and power corrupts, be smart, be evil
  • YarYar Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    celery77 wrote: »
    Yeah -- I was under the impression if it's not in your name, it's not your responsibility, but Doc seems to say otherwise.
    Well, I think we're all correct.

    Not being on a lease or utility bill doesn't grant you total guaranteed immunity. Courts tend to be rational, not petty, and will assume that a tenant using utilities can carry some implied responsibility of paying utilities, unless there was an agreement otherwise. Like Doc said, this is her suing, not the utilicom. But if it comes down to a he-said-she-said thing, my guess is that a court is likely to tell the person who was on the bill and who paid the bill that they need to cut their losses and move on.

    This woman was subletting, and under a verbal "utilities included" agreement, which is not totally uncommon.

    Again, paper records will help. Print out myspace and chat logs. Depending on the judge, they may or may not accept such new-fangled communications, but it helps if you print it on paper. Write a letter to her calmly explaining what you understood the agreement to be, and how you felt you upheld your end of the agreement (i.e., brief explanation of housework, etc.), and keep a dated copy of that letter. That paperwork and your testimony should almost guarantee you victory in court.

    Also, I'm fairly certain she's just shaking you down for money and has no intent of taking you to court.

  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    celery77 wrote: »
    Also am I misunderstanding that even if he went to small claims and lost, the worst that would happen is that he would just have to pay the $730 she's demanding anyway?
    That is correct, yes.
    Yar wrote: »
    Also, I'm fairly certain she's just shaking you down for money and has no intent of taking you to court.
    This is my guess, too.

    If she does take you to court, though, submit both physical and electronic copies of all communications, including links to the MySpace pages.

  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2007
    Yar wrote: »
    Again, paper records will help. Print out myspace and chat logs. Depending on the judge, they may or may not accept such new-fangled communications, but it helps if you print it on paper. Write a letter to her calmly explaining what you understood the agreement to be, and how you felt you upheld your end of the agreement (i.e., brief explanation of housework, etc.), and keep a dated copy of that letter. That paperwork and your testimony should almost guarantee you victory in court.

    Also, I'm fairly certain she's just shaking you down for money and has no intent of taking you to court
    .

  • siliconenhancedsiliconenhanced __BANNED USERS
    edited March 2007
    Thanks guys.

    And no, we weren't dating at all. We were friends in high school, but she's slept with/dated several of my friends, and they've all bitched that she does go way psycho on them. Last night was pretty ridiculous - she refused to move when a friend of mine was coming down the stairs with a heavy TV and he tried to step around her, and ended up slipping and falling through a window.

    I was about to call the police, but he didn't want any part of that (It should be noted that they were sleeping together). She also FUBARed my computer pretty good, to the point that I can't get online using wireless and creater a password protected profile (behind which my AIM logs lie), so as an aside any help with that would be appreciated (using my mother's computer now).

    Something else I'd like to note - Her mood see sawed back and forth from "Oh you're so sued" to "omg how am I going to pay this YOU'RE RIPPING ME OFF". So I think a lot of her threats are just that. When I get back from looking at my new place, I'm going to end up going through and hunting for myspace mails.

    I really do in my heart believe its just a shakedown. From what I've seen, she's been broke as fuck lately (running out of gas, can't feed her cats), which I believe is from the fact she overextended herself getting a giant full back dragon tattoo (colored), which she had the artist come to the house for. Its very high quality, and the quotes I've gotten form other tattoo artists put it easily at over a grand. Does that sound right, or are they just overinflating? Anyway, after the tattoo was done was about the time she started to come to me about "utilities I owed her". In addition, she said I owed her for the next month of rent from whenever I moved out (So if I moved out in June, I owed her $400 in July), but that really did go nowhere.

    I really wouldn't have had a problem with helping her if she had approached me like "hey I'm having money problems can you give me a hand" as opposed to "you're going to give me $700 OR ELSE". I don't think I'm being unreasonable by telling her to stuff it.

  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    There's no way you owe her another month's rent.

    Install the hard-drive as a secondary hard drive in another computer. You should be able to pull up the files when you're booted into a different drive, no problem. Then, re-format.

    Someone may have a better suggestion, but that's the quick-and-dirty way to do it.

  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2007
    I would have dropped the TV on her if she was standing there when I was coming down the stairs.

    Be glad you are getting out now and not when she's so broke she starts stealing from you.

  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
  • siliconenhancedsiliconenhanced __BANNED USERS
    edited March 2007
    Doc wrote: »
    I would have dropped the TV on her if she was standing there when I was coming down the stairs.

    Be glad you are getting out now and not when she's so broke she starts stealing from you.

    Or selling herself for money. Though considering she's left holding an $800/month bag, but that's not my problem anymore.

    Edit: Two things - I did pay the rent in cash, as opposed to a check. And Doc, when you say sketchy (rent + utilities), do you mean on my part or hers?

  • FyreWulffFyreWulff Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2007
    Computer issue:

    Press F8 as the computer boots up to get into Safe Mode.

    If you're lucky, she didn't know about/didn't know how to get to the Administrator account. Log into that.,

    then go to Start > Settings/Control Panel > User Accounts

    select your account, and then clear the password.

  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2007
    Doc wrote: »
    I would have dropped the TV on her if she was standing there when I was coming down the stairs.

    Be glad you are getting out now and not when she's so broke she starts stealing from you.

    Or selling herself for money. Though considering she's left holding an $800/month bag, but that's not my problem anymore.

    Edit: Two things - I did pay the rent in cash, as opposed to a check. And Doc, when you say sketchy (rent + utilities), do you mean on my part or hers?

    Not sure. Like I said, utils around here are expensive enough to make me go O_o at the idea that doing chores would be worth half of the utilities every month.

  • siliconenhancedsiliconenhanced __BANNED USERS
    edited March 2007
    Doc wrote: »
    Doc wrote: »
    I would have dropped the TV on her if she was standing there when I was coming down the stairs.

    Be glad you are getting out now and not when she's so broke she starts stealing from you.

    Or selling herself for money. Though considering she's left holding an $800/month bag, but that's not my problem anymore.

    Edit: Two things - I did pay the rent in cash, as opposed to a check. And Doc, when you say sketchy (rent + utilities), do you mean on my part or hers?

    Not sure. Like I said, utils around here are expensive enough to make me go O_o at the idea that doing chores would be worth half of the utilities every month.

    Fixed my computer, thanks guys. I figured out she went into my IP settings and screwed around with those as well.

    Well, the total would be about $146/month in utilities. Basically I picked up after her, did the dishes, both our laundries, kept the bathroom and kitchen clean, and picked up after her cats. Took roughly an hour everyday (messy as hell, let me tell you), so even if you're looking at $5/hour for housekeeping, that's $150 a month, easily covering my share.

    Especially when you've got three cats to deal with.

    Anyway, I went back through myspace and couldn't find anything really detailing our agreement. More like "Hey, I'll be moved in by X".

    AIM logs I gots though, but they're in .doc format. Is that going to be a problem?

  • FyreWulffFyreWulff Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2007
    print them out and get them notarized somewhere. If you have a bank account, they will more than likely notarize it for free.

    this is mostly to mark the date so she can't just say "oh he probably just made those up a week ago" if she ever takes you to court.

  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    FyreWulff wrote: »
    print them out and get them notarized somewhere. If you have a bank account, they will more than likely notarize it for free.

    this is mostly to mark the date so she can't just say "oh he probably just made those up a week ago" if she ever takes you to court.
    I doubt notarizing them will do much good. You still could've just made them up. :P

    But yeah, definitely better than nothing.

  • siliconenhancedsiliconenhanced __BANNED USERS
    edited March 2007
    Thanatos wrote: »
    FyreWulff wrote: »
    print them out and get them notarized somewhere. If you have a bank account, they will more than likely notarize it for free.

    this is mostly to mark the date so she can't just say "oh he probably just made those up a week ago" if she ever takes you to court.
    I doubt notarizing them will do much good. You still could've just made them up. :P

    But yeah, definitely better than nothing.

    FOILED AGAIN.

  • SarcastroSarcastro Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Edit: Two things - I did pay the rent in cash, as opposed to a check. And Doc, when you say sketchy (rent + utilities), do you mean on my part or hers?

    If you took out the same amount of cash from the bank everytime at the about the same interval (like two days after payday or whenever) your bank statement could also prove handy.

    Edcrab wrote: »
    "See," said Lucifer, "God's an asshole."
  • siliconenhancedsiliconenhanced __BANNED USERS
    edited March 2007
    Sarcastro wrote: »
    Edit: Two things - I did pay the rent in cash, as opposed to a check. And Doc, when you say sketchy (rent + utilities), do you mean on my part or hers?

    If you took out the same amount of cash from the bank everytime at the about the same interval (like two days after payday or whenever) your bank statement could also prove handy.

    I never thought of that. Good call.

  • Marty81Marty81 Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Yar wrote: »
    This woman was subletting, and under a verbal "utilities included" agreement, which is not totally uncommon.

    I really like this line. My girlfriend has been in such an arrangement twice - like Yar said, it's not uncommon. Definitely use this in your defense (if it comes to that).

  • XagarathXagarath Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    It's a pity you're not in the UK, or I could offer far too much law.

  • siliconenhancedsiliconenhanced __BANNED USERS
    edited March 2007
    Marty81 wrote: »
    Yar wrote: »
    This woman was subletting, and under a verbal "utilities included" agreement, which is not totally uncommon.

    I really like this line. My girlfriend has been in such an arrangement twice - like Yar said, it's not uncommon. Definitely use this in your defense (if it comes to that).

    Explain?

  • Marty81Marty81 Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Marty81 wrote: »
    Yar wrote: »
    This woman was subletting, and under a verbal "utilities included" agreement, which is not totally uncommon.

    I really like this line. My girlfriend has been in such an arrangement twice - like Yar said, it's not uncommon. Definitely use this in your defense (if it comes to that).

    Explain?

    All I mean is that she, on two separate occasions, subletted from someone under a verbal "utilities included" arrangement. Nothing more. She was never sued and never had to go to court or anything like that.

    I just liked Yar's succint way of explaining the living arrangement.

  • siliconenhancedsiliconenhanced __BANNED USERS
    edited March 2007
    Marty81 wrote: »
    Marty81 wrote: »
    Yar wrote: »
    This woman was subletting, and under a verbal "utilities included" agreement, which is not totally uncommon.

    I really like this line. My girlfriend has been in such an arrangement twice - like Yar said, it's not uncommon. Definitely use this in your defense (if it comes to that).

    Explain?

    All I mean is that she, on two separate occasions, subletted from someone under a verbal "utilities included" arrangement. Nothing more. She was never sued and never had to go to court or anything like that.

    I just liked Yar's succint way of explaining the living arrangement.

    No, I was more curious about the "use this in your defense" part. I'm curious how you would go about doing that.

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