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Helping a friend get out of an abusive relationship

HoovesHooves Registered User
edited April 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
Edit:changed the thread title to more accurately reflect the situation. The lease seems to be of lesser significance at this point.

I have a friend who's in a pretty tough situation right now. She's in a relationship with an abusive alcoholic and she's had enough of it so shes trying to move back home ASAP. They live together in a house with one other person and everyone's name is on the lease. She doesn't want to just bail with her name still on the lease in case her ex roomies are late on rent a few times which they probably will be.

Is there a way to get her landlord to take her name off of the lease? How badly is that going to ding her? I really know nothing about how leases and these sorts of things work and neither does she so I'd be great if someone could just lay it all out for me. What are the repercussions of breaking a lease. Say she talks to her landlord and the landlord sympathizes with her situation. Is there any way she can get out of it without any negative consequences. I'd assume that's up to the landlord.

What's the best way to proceed from here?

relevant information: she's living in another state about a 6 hour drive from here.

Hooves on

Posts

  • ceresceres Humming hallelujah in the dark Lost with a compass in the fogSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    What state is she in, and what are the terms of the lease? There's often a penalty for breaking early, but it's doable. If there isn't, or if it doesn't work for her, it's good that her landlord is sympathetic, because she may need to work this out with him. Anything she works out she should get in writing, but the really important thing is that she get out of there. She can work out the details once that's done.

    It'll be just as quiet when I leave as it was when I first got here
    I don't expect anything.

    The avalanche has already started; it is too late for the pebbles to vote.
  • godmodegodmode Nooo-ooo-ooo... That ain't dancin', SallyRegistered User regular
    When I removed myself from my last lease, leaving the remaining roommate on it, we had to get a form completed. It required all parties on the lease to sign and we had to have it notarized. Not sure if that's everywhere (I live in Virginia), but I don't think she'll be able to just walk out one day without being still legally bound to the rental.

  • godmodegodmode Nooo-ooo-ooo... That ain't dancin', SallyRegistered User regular
    I would recommend, in the event that she has to confront her significant other, she have someone with her when she announces that she's taking off. Someone not only to make sure everything goes smoothly, but to help make sure that all the requirements are met to satisfactorily sever her attachment to the property.

  • JebusUDJebusUD Registered User regular
    Yeah, it's likely she will have to get them to sign something which, given the situation, they probably won't do. How long is she in the lease yet? Is there an early release clause in the lease? Remember, breaking a lease and hurting your rental history is better than being killed by a crazed drunk.

    You haven't given me a reason to steer clear of you!
  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    Also, what is the status of this relationship? Are they married, engaged, dating over x number of years? A lot of leases have clauses where if a couple is on the lease and they split they can break the lease, (I.E. in cases of divorce, etc)

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  • XArchangelXXArchangelX Registered User regular
    Yeah, depends on the exact laws in your state, but it's pretty much up to the landlord. If he's not a dick he can just break her out of the lease. He could charge a fee for breaking the lease, usually one months rent, but depends how big of a dick he wants to be.

    In this situation, not breaking the lease and just hoping isn't an option. Just talk to the landlord so that everything is on the table and work something out. It's worth some $$ to get out of this situation.

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  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    Worst case scenario is that there is no option to break the lease, in which case you need to do a thorough review your contract because if she's with an abusive alcoholic and there have been police called to the apartment or she's filing a restraining order she might have some leeway there.

    Second worse case scenario is the standard lease break, which is usually two months rent (60 day notice) and a fee upfront. That's a lot of cash to come up with, but I'm sure friends and family could help there if she's in a bad spot.

    Better case scenario is the landlord is cool and willing to work with her to get her out of this mess.

    There shouldn't be any negative consequences unless she just bails and the landlord is forced to take action against her in court or report her to a credit agency.

    Not a lawyer and I don't know your states laws but if the landlord isn't willing to be helpful I'd look up anything on tenants rights when dealing with an abusive significant other, although most stuff down that road would probably be aimed at getting rid of the alocholic.

    On a more serious note, if this relationship is threatening her safety or she's been abused you need to tell her to call the police and get that paperwork in the mill both so she isn't harmed (again) and so she's got something on file if this gets worse.

    Here's what I do...
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  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    In most states, this is super easy to do. It's called a "roommate release". When my ex-wife and I divorced, we had to fill one out on my lease so that she wasn't responsible for my place anymore. Unless her roommates want to fight her, this should be done in less than a day. It didn't cost us any money and was just a form we had to fill out and sign. I then had to re-sign part of my lease that stated I was taking sole responsibility for all costs.

    Most states that have decent tenant protection laws should make this super easy.

    GnomeTank on
    Sagroth wrote: »
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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    GnomeTank wrote: »
    In most states, this is super easy to do. It's called a "roommate release". When my ex-wife and I divorced, we had to fill one out on my lease so that she wasn't responsible for my place anymore. Unless her roommates want to fight her, this should be done in less than a day. It didn't cost us any money and was just a form we had to fill out and sign. I then had to re-sign part of my lease that stated I was taking sole responsibility for all costs.

    Most states that have decent tenant protection laws should make this super easy.

    Yeah if she can get 2-3 people to go with her and sign a roommate release then that might be the best route. Talk with the landlord first.

  • HoovesHooves Registered User
    edited April 2012
    I'm not sure what the terms of her lease are I'll have to ask her. She's in salt lake, UT.

    The problem is she doesn't really have any choice besides to just up and bail. She plans on doing it when he's not there which is going to be difficult because he doesn't have a job. Confronting him is not an option because he will flip his shit and do everything in his power to keep her from leaving. She is going to let the other roommate know before she leaves though. Other roommate isn't a fan of her boyfriend either and once she leaves he's not going to be able to pay his share of rent.

    One of the issues we're having right now is that I'm in another state and our communications have to remain on the down low. He regularly takes and looks through her phone and demands that she let him go through her facebook. She started a second account that he doesn't know about so we talk through that but she can only check it when hes not around. I cant call or text her, she has to call me. Unfortunately she doesn't really have a lot of friends where she's at since she just moved there.

    I told her she needs to get in touch with her landlord and fill her in about the situation. Unless landlord's a ruthless harpy I can't imagine she won't be willing to work with her.

    Hooves on
  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    Okay, this is probably bad advice, but in that situation I'd tell her to get her things together and get out of that house, immediately, and she can deal with the landlord over the phone and through the mail. Does she have a job keeping her in that state?

    Here's what I do...
    The Vac - My Science Fiction Epic
    Fortune Pancakes - My Gag-A-Day Comic
  • HoovesHooves Registered User
    edited April 2012
    bowen wrote: »
    GnomeTank wrote: »
    In most states, this is super easy to do. It's called a "roommate release". When my ex-wife and I divorced, we had to fill one out on my lease so that she wasn't responsible for my place anymore. Unless her roommates want to fight her, this should be done in less than a day. It didn't cost us any money and was just a form we had to fill out and sign. I then had to re-sign part of my lease that stated I was taking sole responsibility for all costs.

    Most states that have decent tenant protection laws should make this super easy.

    Yeah if she can get 2-3 people to go with her and sign a roommate release then that might be the best route. Talk with the landlord first.

    Like I said in my last post she doesn't really know anybody up there but now that I think about it I do know a few very large and very scary looking dudes in SLC. She doesn't know them but I'm thinking I might call them up and see if they'll be willing to help her out. She could probably get him to sign pretty much anything if those dudes were standing there.

    Hooves on
  • HoovesHooves Registered User
    Okay, this is probably bad advice, but in that situation I'd tell her to get her things together and get out of that house, immediately, and she can deal with the landlord over the phone and through the mail. Does she have a job keeping her in that state?

    Yeah and she likes her job. She's willing to leave it behind but she doesn't want to fuck them over or lose a good reference.

    I talked to her last night and told her to talk to her boss and explain the situation she's in so that hopefully they can let her leave with less than two weeks notice. Apparently they really like her so hopefully they'll be sympathetic.

    I also think the best idea is for her to just get out as soon as possible. She doesn't want to burn any bridges but at a certain point I feel like she should just cut her losses and leave.

  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    If she's truly afraid for her safety, all she has to do is call the police and they will come escort her out and be there while she gets her things so D. Baggins The Third can't mess with her as she's leaving. In fact, she should do this just in case he shows up mid-getting out.

    GnomeTank on
    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
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  • Gilbert0Gilbert0 VictoriaRegistered User regular
    edited April 2012
    GnomeTank wrote: »
    If she's truly afraid for her safety, all she has to do is call the police and they will come escort her out and be there while she gets her things so D. Baggins The Third can't mess with her as she's leaving. In fact, she should do this just in case he shows up mid-getting out.

    Absolutly this.

    Call the NON-emergancy line for the police, schedule a time and when they arrive have her tell him.

    edit - And by time, I don't mean next week, if it's this bad, it's TONIGHT OR TOMORROW.

    Gilbert0 on
  • HoovesHooves Registered User
    Gilbert0 wrote: »
    GnomeTank wrote: »
    If she's truly afraid for her safety, all she has to do is call the police and they will come escort her out and be there while she gets her things so D. Baggins The Third can't mess with her as she's leaving. In fact, she should do this just in case he shows up mid-getting out.

    Absolutly this.

    Call the NON-emergancy line for the police, schedule a time and when they arrive have her tell him.

    edit - And by time, I don't mean next week, if it's this bad, it's TONIGHT OR TOMORROW.

    That's a good idea and I'm going to suggest to her that she do it. I also told her she should go to the nearest women's shelter and just give them her name and number so that in case anything goes down and say she calls the police and the phone magically gets shut off they have her on file and can react quicker.

  • godmodegodmode Nooo-ooo-ooo... That ain't dancin', SallyRegistered User regular
    I really hope it works out for her. It's good that she seems to have a lot of support and good friends like you, Hooves. And yes, it's best for her that she get out of there as soon as possible.

  • mizd89mizd89 Registered User
    Best thing to do...get out of there ASAP. Things will only go downhill faster if he's that posessive and controlling of her. That's not a healthy situation to be living in. Talking to the landlord just prior to this, however, would also be an excellent idea. She would have to come clean about everything of course, but in cases like this, its best to have AS MANY witnesses as possible, no matter how 'embarassing' the situation may be. If he turns violent one night and no one's around to protect her, a lot of people should at least know his nature in order to lead detectives to his door step SHOULD something bad ever happen.

    If, by chance, the landlord DOES turn out to be a ruthless harpy, she should revisit on the day she's leaving. With her police escort. Nothing says serious business like a police escort. Honestly, NO business owner wants to have police officers showing up with lights flaring, standing around looking all stoic and serious while eagle-eyeing every dude that comes within ten feet of a SINGLE person. If he/she turns out to be rude and unwilling to work with her, then he/she will change her tune REAL quick when the police show up. If the landlord still won't help, a court order means he/she will have no choice. If your friend is desperate enough to wipe the slate clean with the apartment and she can find a sympathetically-inclined officer (I have three in my building, ALONE.), AND there is proof or has been proof of past violence, then a court order would clean things right up for her. Oh, a restraining order would be great, too.

    Also, since most guys like these are touched in the head, its possible that he will follow should he EVER catch wind of where she's going. He's possessive, he's abusive, AND he's alcoholic. Lovely symptoms for a personality disorder, probably involving unresolved abandonment issues with his father (I'm guessing). Whenever she gets to wherever she's going, have her hit up the police station for her town or district and have her LET THEM KNOW about this situation. They have the internet, they have phones, they HAVE the ability to pull info about this guy, about her, and about the restraining order she will hopefully file against him. She should then give them her new address, name, phone number, email, facebook, twitter, etc. If he's going to follow, like I have a hunch his type of guy probably will, she's going to want to be watched by police. If she gets out and she does all these things, maybe, JUST maybe, he'll be out of her life for good. Officers are your friends and they're there to protect and serve. If he needs to get capped in the knee or something to get the message, these guys can do it. Hope that helped.

  • HoovesHooves Registered User
    Thanks again for all the advice. Since I last posted here, well, absolutely no progress has been made. I've only been able to get in touch with her a handful of times on facebook. I know that people in abusive relationships have a tendency to become despondent and feel as if there is nothing they can do to get out of their situation. I've mentioned most all of the advice given in this thread, but she seems hesitant to actually go forward with any of it. She's not refusing just doesn't seem like she's making any effort. I think a lot of it has to do with the complete isolation she's experiencing right now.

    Right now I'm broke, but in two weeks when I get paid I'm thinking I'm going to drive down there and meet up with her in a neutral place like a coffeehouse or something. Obviously I can't force her to do anything but I think having a friend there who is sympathetic and aware of whats going on might be the encouragement she needs. Maybe I'll go to the cop chop with her to make a report or coach her on what to say to her landlord whom I don't think she's been in touch with yet. I think she feels completely immobilized on her own.

    I'm also thinking showing her this thread might be a good idea. Thoughts?

  • ceresceres Humming hallelujah in the dark Lost with a compass in the fogSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited April 2012
    I lived through not exactly this, but something like it. I can give you the details if you want, but you probably don't need them. She needs to get out of there, but she is probably really really scared, and the change and the uncertainty of what will happen after she leaves and every little doubt one could possibly have will have her putting this off. "Will he come after me? It's not like he's got anything else to fucking do." This is something that goes through your head, and after a while you just build it up so much that the uncertainty involved with staying is not NEARLY as big or terrifying as the uncertainty involved with leaving. It may be so bad that the more she talks about it the less she likes or wants to think about the idea of leaving. It becomes something you can always do later, you know, if things get really bad, and that bar is really easy to move.

    I guess what I'm saying it, don't let her go. Stick with her. See her when you can, but if she says she can't, let it go. You tend to lose your friends in situations like this, both because you can't talk to them without the guy getting mad and because when you do, well, what the fuck are you going to say? Never make talking to her a burden. I can count on one hand the number of friends I have who made it through the relationship, leaving, the fallout, and the emotional breakdown afterwards, with people who came and went during that time, and just about everyone who came during one of those stages has gone.

    Honestly I'm not sure I would show her this thread right now. Maybe when it's all over? It could help now, maybe, but it's also you making her problems public (albeit anonymous), and leaving out details she's sure would change everyone's mind if only they had them.

    It's a bit difficult to advise here because I don't really know how far down the rabbit hole she is.

    edit:
    You can PM me if you want to, or if she want to talk about it at all I can give you my info for her.

    ceres on
    It'll be just as quiet when I leave as it was when I first got here
    I don't expect anything.

    The avalanche has already started; it is too late for the pebbles to vote.
  • GonmunGonmun Canada eh!Registered User regular
    I have to concur with ceres on showing her this thread. It could possibly be looked at as some sort of betrayel of trust to her and right now I think the best thing is to focus on helping her and not what a bunch of internet strangers think she ought to do. Still, kudos on trying to keep the lines of communication open and I hope things work out for your friend.

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