Bob is 23, fresh out of college and now works for a major Chicago law firm’s IT department. Though things have evened out for him in the past few weeks, Bob had to endure one of the worst scenarios in apartment living—breaking up with his live-in girlfriend.
After his college graduation, Bob stuck around home and tried to find an apartment. Luckily, his girlfriend Alyssa already moved into the area to attend school. After about three months, Bob decided to make it official and move in.
The lease and the bills, however, were all in her name.
“At this apartment complex it was a big deal,” says Bob. “We both had to go in and sign on a revised lease; I couldn’t have a separate contract. We had to work it all out when it was convenient for them, too. Sometimes it’s a big hassle to change the lease agreements.”
Perhaps it was a harbinger of things to come. Alas, as in many relationships, living together wasn’t the greatest idea. The two fought constantly, worked separate hours and drifted along until the inevitable breakup.
Though breakups are never fun, it became even harder when Alyssa moved out one day while Bob was at work. Despite taking most of their possessions (including the ice cube trays) she left some loose ends … such as the lease and the bills.
“First, the complex wouldn’t change the locks because her name was still on the lease,” says Bob. “But what really disappointed me was that they said they’ve had situations like this before but they didn’t have any documentation or ways on how to handle what happens next. I found that hard to believe. It was just really unprofessional. I basically had to create my own agreement post-breakup with Alyssa, get it notarized and then bring it back to them.
“Maybe not signing the lease over was maybe a plan B for her. So if things got better between us she could just move back in. But I insisted on getting her off the lease. The way it happened, I just said, ‘You need to sign this over.’ I just wanted it done. She moved out and kept the key. What sucks is that we had the same mailbox. So she started forwarding her mail back home and the Postmaster must’ve gotten confused because I didn’t get any mail. There’s still about two and a half weeks of my mail floating around somewhere.”
Getting the electric and the other utility bills over to his name wasn’t a hassle at all, according to Bob. ComEd ran a credit check, removed her from the bill and put Bob’s name on it. It was relatively easy as well to switch over the water, cable and gas services. The rest of the loose ends, however, took a whole month.
“[We were] just arguing, not communicating directly. And I can’t blame it all on her because I got hostile after she moved out,” says Bob.
Bob still feels some lingering animosity towards the way the situation ended.
“She didn’t steal anything, really,” says Bob. “She returned stuff that was taken. Eventually. She had her family help her move out and they just boxed stuff up. Kind of funny how they didn’t lift a finger to help her move in, but boy they sure helped moving her out. I thought it was kind of low that I wasn’t there to help supervise what was going. It would have been nice to say ‘hey, I know we bought that together, but could I hang onto that?”
If there’s one thing Bob learned from this experience, it’s this: get it on paper.
“There are tons of documents out there on Google if you want to make small agreements,” says Bob. “It seems…rude to ask for your roommate to agree to a contract, but at the same time you can’t worry about that. It saves time and effort if [it] hits the fan and you won’t have to drag your roommate to small claims. Even if you make a verbal agreement, you have to put it in writing.”