When Kathy* and I found out that our third roommate was moving back home, we were devastated. To say that I had the two most fantastic roommates ever was an understatement. We were best friends who all happened to live together.
We immediately went into panic mode knowing that we needed rent from a third roommate to continue to live in our duplex while finishing law school. We placed an ad on Craigslist and hoped for the best.
When we met Alice*, she seemed like a perfect fit. She was our age and had just accepted an AmeriCorps position with an agency in our small college town. While we knew the position was low paying, her share of the rent would only be $350 per month. Once she moved in, things started well enough. We made a few group dinners and invited her to hang out with our friends since she was new to town.
Within one week, I knew that Alice was not what she seemed.
I had the crush of all crushes on a friend and had made a New Year’s resolution to finally do something about it. I told Alice and Kathy and was pretty proud of my decision. The next night, we went out with a big group of friends and Alice was immediately all over the guy. The whole night. Despite the fact that she had a long-distance boyfriend in another state.
At the end of the night, the group ended up at our place and I went to bed alone while Alice sat on my dream guy’s lap enjoying the after-hours fun. I learned months later that they slept together around that time.
When I mentioned my disdain for our new roommate, Kathy told me that she was sure it was nothing and surely Alice did not mean to encroach on my territory. We were not dating anyway, and he was technically a free agent. This did not make me feel much better, but I gave Alice the benefit of the doubt and never confronted her.
Since we were students, both Kathy and I paid our rent in advance when our student loan checks came in. Because of this, our rent ledger was in the black for several months of rent, even if Alice never paid a dime. Well, fast forward three months later when I receive a call from the landlord saying that our third roommate had never written a check for rent since she had moved in.
This is where the lies started. I immediately confronted Alice who claimed she had dutifully placed the checks in the rent drop box each month and she would contact her bank immediately.
A day later she claimed that her mom had mailed the checks in and that her dad had intercepted the checks in the mail prior to their dispatch, allocating the funds for himself. She went so far as to claim that he had set up a fake company with our landlord’s information in order to cash the checks.
While her story was dubious, all we asked was that she pay the rent. She claimed that she did.
In the months that passed, I fought with Alice to get bills paid when time came to split them every month. A cloud of drama followed the girl wherever she went: breakups with the older man who lived a state a way, new paramours and the sound of wild sex through the walls, days missing with no clue of where she would be.
She would borrow clothes without asking and eat everyone’s food from the fridge without restocking.
One night, she spent an entire evening at the bar hitting on Kathy’s ex while Kathy stood mere feet away. She asked our friends to borrow money and even got one to pay her cell phone bill for her. You name the annoying roommate behavior, and Alice did not disappoint.
One month we got an exceptionally large cable bill. After hitting the gym, Kathy and I headed over to the cable company to find out what was up. Still sweaty and in workout clothes, we both joked that maybe someone rented some “adult” movies. Laughter ensued until we saw the lady at the counter’s face. “Yes, someone did rent some movies,” she said meekly.
Come to find out, Alice had rented five movies. Adult movies. All at $16.99 a pop. All about hot MILFs. The lady at the counter printed a listing. All rented from the living room–shared TV. All on days Kathy and I were out of town or working. Kathy particularly noticed that one day, the movie had to have been rented no less than 15 minutes after she walked out the door to head to work.
Not only was our roommate racking up the cable bill, she was masturbating in our shared living space on my couch.
A month or so later, we got another call from the landlord. That late rent payment Alice made? The credit card she used had been stolen from her ex-boyfriend and the charge was denied as fraudulent. The rent hole was getting bigger and bigger and Alice was nowhere to be found. She had found a new boyfriend at this point and stayed with him almost exclusively. She would sneak into the house while we were at school for her things, but we just could not corner the girl. Emails would go unreturned, calls unanswered.
When the lease came to an end, we were finishing up with law school and studying for the bar. Stress was at a max with the biggest test of our lives looming and a huge debt owed to our landlord. I was planning a cross-country move at the same time and really wanted affairs to be taken care of before I left.
However, Alice continued to be elusive, and moving day came for me with no resolution. We went into her room to look for the items she had stolen and found disgusting piles of unwashed clothing and hardly a clear square of floor to walk on. In the bathroom, the wall of the shower was covered in hundreds of blonde hairs that had never been cleaned off the wall in all of the months Alice had showered there. It looked like the shower was growing fur.
After my truck was packed, I came in to have what I thought would be an emotional goodbye with Kathy to find her fuming down the stairs. After Kathy’s last email begging for Alice to pay what she owed and to move her stuff out, Alice had an attorney email Kathy to inform her that his client was seeking bankruptcy and that Kathy nor I were not to contact her directly.
He accused us of harassment and lying regarding the debt. We were livid. We were jointly liable for the lease and if Alice did not pay, we were on the hook. However, I had to go and promised Kathy I would do what I could from across the country.
Eventually Alice did come move some of her stuff out while Kathy was out of the house. When Kathy returned, she found a box of DVD pornography cases with the trash . . . . with the DVD’s removed. Alice obviously needed to keep her collection a little more private moving in with her new boyfriend, a cop with the local police department.
Being an almost-attorney, move-out day did not stop Kathy from seeking justice. We had received assurance from our landlord that our credit would not be affected if Alice paid what she owed in bankruptcy. When we received notice that Alice’s bankruptcy plan did not include the debt in full, Kathy forwarded all of the information regarding Alice’s fraud to the city attorney (unfortunately criminal charges never ensued) and drafted an opposition to Alice’s bankruptcy plan outlining in detail all of the fraud committed by Alice during her time living with us.
When the time came for a court hearing on Kathy’s opposition to the bankruptcy, Kathy had received word that she had passed the bar, but was yet to be sworn in as a licensed attorney.
Before the hearing, Alice’s attorney ran up to Kathy in the hallway and started apologizing profusely for his previous communications. He had no clue that his client had been perpetuating such a massive fraud and conceded to our only demand: that the rent payment be included in the plan in full. He really had no choice.
Fraudsters are not eligible for bankruptcy, and had Kathy been successful in her opposition, the bankruptcy would be off. They went into the hearing and not only did the attorney agree to the amendment to the plan, but when the judge asked Kathy if she was an attorney and she replied no, he piped in and bragged to the judge that Kathy had passed the bar and was only waiting to be sworn in.
While we were out several hundred dollars in bills and a large security deposit, our credit was unaffected by Alice’s fraud.
Since dealing with Alice, I have spent the last few years living with my brother. When he is asked why he lives with his sister, he replies, “You are always going to hate your roommate. Might as well live with one I have spent the last 30 years learning not to kill.” I think he has the right idea.