Why You Shouldn’t Take Your Lousy Roommate in Small Claims Court

You have problems, I have advice. This tip does not contain powdered sugar – in fact, it does not contain sugar and can even be slightly bitter. Welcome to Tough Love .

This week we have a college student wondering if they should sue their former roommate over the money they owe.

Mind you, I am not a therapist or any other healthcare professional, but just a guy who is willing to talk about it the way it is. I just want to give you the tools you need to enrich your damn life. If for any reason you don’t like my advice, feel free to file a formal complaint here . So let’s get on with it.

Hi, Patrick,

Last year I was living with a “friend” from high school, the situation turned into a nightmare. She got mad at me over the smallest things – like when I didn’t replace the toilet roll, or wash her cup, etc. – and ended up moving halfway through the rental. Utility bills were billed in her name, but she refused to pay her share because she “did not live there,” despite signing a lease that said she would pay utility bills anyway.

In short, I didn’t pay her share of the utilities, and she took her share from my bond. That’s $ 60, which is reasonable enough for me to claim a refund considering I’m in college. I’m guessing what I’m asking is is it worth suing someone in small claims court, or should I just bite the bullet, even if it’s clearly her share?

Best Regards, Broke College Kid

Hi Brock from college:

I hope you have strong teeth, Kid, because it’s time to bite the bullet and move on. She may have signed a lease, but I would be surprised if that lease really obliged her to pay for any utilities. Assuming utilities are not handled through your landlord (rents and utilities are usually separate entities), I cannot imagine there is a clause that says, “You should, as it were, completely share utility costs regardless from what, or otherwise. “

If utilities are included with the rent, that makes what she did a little more not so nice. But also her argument is kind of … sound. she didn’t live there, so she didn’t use these utilities and didn’t increase the cost. All you have to pay when there is none is the cost of your utilities . Nor do I pay for the utilities of my former roommate – I only pay for what I use and where I live. I’m not sure how she took the money out of your security deposit to pay for her share of the utilities or what happened there – it’s a little hazy – but honestly, it’s neither here nor there. Why? Because it’s $ 60 . I probably have so many little things hidden under the cushions of the sofa. I understand you’re broke, in school, and you need every rusty penny you can get out of the gutter, but this is just one of those bummer life lessons.

Let me be clear: Let’s say you sued her in small claims court for the $ 60 she owes you. Immediately after that, you will have to pay a court fee of approximately $ 30 to $ 100, depending on the state. At best, you will now make $ 30 in net profit, and at worst, you will lose $ 40 to prove your point. And these are the costs only for filing documents. Other costs can add up and there are limits to how much you can win anyway . Now, if she missed the rent, and you were stuck for several months with double rent, as a result of which you were in debt, then you could have a case. But even then, you might be better off going to arbitration rather than small claims court. Plus, you’ll need to decide if it’s worth interacting with her again and dealing with the stress of all of this that you will get anyway. I do not think so.

Before you leave, College Kid, I’d like to think about who this trashy roommate really is in this situation. Living with her might have been tricky, and giving up her rent isn’t cool, but it doesn’t sound all that great either. No one should be mad at someone for making an honest mistake, I agree, but not changing toilet paper when it’s out and not cleaning other people’s things after you’ve used them is pretty crap. especially if these are things that have happened repeatedly. In fact, I suspect you were too messy and disorganized for her, and that’s why she left? I don’t know if this is true, I’m taking a crazy guess, but still check yourself before you ruin yourself, Kid.

That’s all for this week, but I still have a lot of frank and honest advice. Tell me what is bothering you? Does work upset you? Are you having problems with a friend or colleague? Is your love life going through rough times? Do you just feel lost in life, as if you have no direction? Tell me, maybe I can help. I probably won’t make you feel warm and foggy inside, but sometimes you need tough love. Ask a question in the comments below or email me at the address you see at the bottom of the page ( please include “TIP” in the subject line ). Or tweet me #ToughLove ! Also, DO NOT WRITE ME IF YOU DO NOT WANT YOUR INQUIRY TO OPEN . I don’t have time to answer everyone for fun. “Until next time, figure it out yourself.


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