I'm in Los Angeles, CA.
First off let me say that this situation started off badly. I answered an ad on Craigslist for someone looking for a roommate. It was in an exclusive apartment complex in L.A. We met and agreed to be roommates. The day I moved all my things in (paid people to move them in) he tells me that he's going to get out of his lease because his company is most likely (50/50) sending him to Japan.
I'm sure you understand the level of stress. I basically told the guy that I'd need him to pay for my hotel and storage until I can find another place to live if the gets out of the lease. He then said that he'd renew it and look for another tenant.
Because the economy is so bad (I learned afterwards) not very many people can afford to pay the rent to live here. So, at the end of December the guy basically told me that he was going to terminate the lease because he's definitely going to Japan and we still didn't have a roommate.
I told him that I'd use other venues to try and find one (craigslist was nothing but scammers trying to use the address, check/money order fraud and people who wanted to pay me weekly or month to month) and would cover the rent for both of us until I found one.
Every time I thought I had a person for the room the person flaked, they tried to move additional people in with them etc. I was in a waiting position... always waiting for someone to come through that ended up flaking.
The guy was leaving the last week of January and told me that I needed to pay the full rent for both of us. I gave him a check thinking that the person who promised me they'd be moving in on the 1st of Feb would come through. They didn't and my check bounced.
So, the same things happened in Feb. Someone actually said they were only one person moving in and then told me afterwards that they have 50/50 custody of 2 small children. At this point I'm still saving my portion of the rent hopeful/optimistic & naive that it was going to work out.
I have since learned from other people looking for roommates in this complex that they had been searching for months too and that the situation was really bad.
After the last roommate and the 2 kids under 6 years old... I actually thought that I should save money to look for a place myself (1st, last & security) but still never stopped looking for a roommate.
So, on March 14th the guy on the lease showed up at the apartment. I had a toothache and took a tylenol pm and woke up to the loudest banging I have ever heard. I went to the door and it was open. The chain was on it but it was open so I ran to the bedroom and got my phone - and went back to the door to ask who it was. It was security, with the guy on the lease. He didn't have a key and was back from Japan. I unchained the lock.
So, now I'm groggy with a toothache and he proceeds to sit down and lecture me about what he's been through. I'm sick to my stomach. I actually tried to explain my side of the story but he didn't really want to hear excuses and I understood his point.
He told me that if I didn't pay him my portion for Jan/Feb he was going to call the police. He told me he had terminated the lease and that I had until the 20th (it was the 14th) to be out.
Then he said if I paid the $2k he'd renew the lease. I paid him the $2k via Paypal and in the 'Notes' I said "Jan 24 & Feb 24th rent contingent upon the agreement to renew the lease until Nov 2008". He was there when I typed it.
After that we went to check the mail and the bill for power & the complex other bill for trash etc. I paid him $121 cash for those two.
Then he sat down on the sofa and told me that he'd only renew the lease if I paid him March 24ths rent & April 24ths rent in advance.
I told him that he just agreed to renew the lease after I paid him the $2k. He told me I agreed to pay both portions of Jan/Feb rent. I told him that I'd need to think about it. He said that was fine and that he'd be staying in the apartment to close up matters.
Now, I'm in a state of panic. I call everyone I'm close with and tell them what's happening. I get an email from the guy on the lease on Monday (March 17th) telling me that he'd come by on Friday night and that I had the bolt on the door and he had to go to a hotel. I mentioned that I was probably asleep and that he could have just called and I would've unbolted the door.
Then I email him and tell him I will pay him the 2 months rent (for both people) like he asked =$3880. He then emails me saying he wanted $4930 the rent for March/April and the $400 deposit that he paid, and $150 for future utilities and $500 for his flight from Japan?
I told him there was no way I could pay him that much since I'd just paid him $2k, I didn't get paid for 3 weeks, I had to eat, pay for my product, to have furniture I just bought to the apartment shipped fob (@$500) and other small bills.
He says, Then pay me $4430. I told him I can pay him 2 months (March/April) plus the $150 for the utilities =$4030. He agreed saying I could pay him the $400 deposit at a later date (April 15th)
Then I said, "Ok, what time can you come in the morning? I will have a notary/witness here so everything can be squared away then I can pay you via paypal." I also asked him if there was an afterhours person available to tell him if the apartment was still available. Basically asking if he was even going to be able to renew the lease.
He replies that he'd called and it was still available. I read that email this morning. Then he sends another email titled 'agreements' basically saying that he wanted a fee for security having to open the door $36, a fee for the bounced check $60 and another fee. And that instead of me paying April 24 in advance he wanted to use that money as a deposit ($1940) instead of the $400 that is his portion of the deposit.
So, I'd have to come up with another $1940 on top of everything else. He also said that the rent would be due on the 15th instead of the 24th.
It's March 19th. What can I do to stop this man from taking advantage of me? On Monday having the electricity turned off on the 20th.