I'm hoping that perhaps I can get some new insight into my situation.
Moved into a tri-plex with the ex-roommate (a former coworker- I should also mention that he was bipolar but was told that he was managing it) in late November 2004 and moved out of it mid-November 2005. I moved out about 1 1/2 weeks before my ex-roommate and we both agreed to come back and clean the place and do a final walk through after it was clean.
However, due to the deceitful nature of my ex-roommate, I was left alone to clean and when I came back the bedroom that he lived in was trashed- broken glass in the carpeting, broken fixtures in the bathroom, etc.
My ex-roommate had a very contentious relationship with the landlady who lived upstairs for the entire time we resided there and basically caused trouble and bounced his part of the rent payments (I was only told about this about 2 months before I moved out by the ex-landlady) 3 times- a pretty unstable character. Which I didn't know about until too late in the game to get out of it. My ex-roommate didn't tell me and the ex-landlady didn't tell me either.
Due to his bouncing his part of the rent more than once and the very angry relationship between the two of them, after legal letters passed back and forth and the IGNORING of all the this by my ex-roommate (he did however send me angry e-mails in which he claims that he was going to sue the ex-landlady for "causing him mental anguish" and claiming that he didn't have a job at the moment ((a big lie)) so he couldn't afford to send a response in the mail), the ex-landlady decided to come after just me for the over $4K in damages because I was a more responsible party that she could get money from. These are damages that were done by my ex-roomate that I witnessed with my own eyes and so couldn't deny that they happened in a court of law (damn my honesty) and if my ex-landlady won anything in court she could also tack HER legal fees on tops of the judgement which could very well have added up to DOUBLE what she was claiming in damages.
I really care about my credit rating and the amount that she was asking for in WA state would have had the case sent to Superior court and not small claims. I also can't afford to spend over $1,500 on a lawyer at this point so it was cheaper for me to pay what she was asking for and save my credit and my sanity.
I intend to go after my ex-roommate in court for his damages but I'm sure that he's going to try and fight ME about it- even though he was well aware of what was going on legally and his name and his signature is on the lease on all parts.
I'm sure he's going to try to get out of it by arguing in court that the damages are high, which I felt that they were as well but couldn't afford to argue it legally in court as I was left on my own to deal with a very angry ex-landlady.
So- I'm between two crazy people- I've managed to get one off of my back and now I'm obligated to go after the OTHER one for his half of the damages.
At this point, I don't care if I get that small claims judgement and have to turn it over to a collections agency to collect on it.
Does anyone had any advice for dealing with this situation? I'm pretty sure that I'm handling it the best I can. I just can't afford to have a ding on my credit rating from this horrible roommate and also can't afford to spend over $1500 on a lawyer to defend myself and my ex-landlady's legal fees besides so this really IS the easiest way out and at least I have ONE crazy person off of my back so I can deal with the second.
I'm sure he's going to argue in small claims that the damages were outrageous but due to his inaction on ALL sides of this and his non-responsiveness in a LEGAL issue I'm pretty sure he doesn't have a case as he also signed on the lease.
Any thoughts would be very helpful.