Apartment Roommates: What to Do If They Damage Your Furniture

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Apartment Roommates: What to Do If They Damage Your Furniture

Staff Writer · Nov 2, 2010

When you have apartment roommates, it’s to be expected that it won’t always be smooth sailing. Open communication, kindness and consideration can help you get along better, but there are always going to be bumps in the road when people try to live together. One of the things that you should not have to tolerate, though, is the destruction of your property or furniture. That’s not okay, yet it presents a challenging problem. Approach the subject carefully in order to see a successful outcome.

Document the Damage

No matter what you think that you want to do to ultimately handle the situation with your apartment roommates, you need to document the problem. If you have roommates that chronically mess with your things and cause furniture damage, you should be certain to document and report them. Also, do that if they mess with roommate furniture of others. If you even have suspicion, document whatever you can. Keep a journal of offenses if it’s a situation that can’t be stopped immediately. If it’s unexpected, immediate damage, take pictures immediately, before any more wear and tear or excuses can occur. Keep the documentation beyond the grasp of your roommates.Knowing that you have proof can be all the leverage you need to stick up for yourself when your furniture is damaged.

Set Aside a Time for a Long Conversation

Ask your roommate to set aside at least thirty minutes to speak with you about the furniture damage, within a day or two. If you have multiple roommates who are involved (or multiple roommate furniture damage), make sure they are all present. If you are certain it’s just one roommate, you still want all the roommates present, especially if they are on your side or can back up your theory or perhaps even serve as witnesses. Start the conversation by talking about the damaged furniture and how hurt you are by it, giving them a chance to open up and apologize. If they deny it, listen to their side of the story. If you are not sure which roommate it was, try to get to the bottom of the mess.

Next, give your opinion, stating with proof you have to support such an opinion, such as a photograph, witness or the fact they were the only ones home when the furniture damage occurred. Make what you want clear to your apartment roommates. Many people make the mistake of just venting, without knowing themselves what kind of outcome would ultimately please them. Instead, making sure to be fair and consider the current value of what was damaged, explain what you would like to see happen, whether to have the item replaced with one of similar value or the monetary value for repairs or other solution. Know and be clear on it before you enter into the conversation.

Don’t compromise on what you deserve; politely state what you expect. However, if you deliberately set your expectations high to allow for room to negotiate, then give in to only as much as you feel is deserved. If they don’t comply, tell them that you will look into what further action you may take. Now, this doesn’t have to be ugly. Be calm and respectful, simply let the roommate know that you aren’t going to simply accept the damage to your property as one of those things. While it’s in your best interest to get compensation from the roommate, you don’t want to compromise on what you deserve.

Taking Action

Report the furniture damage and problem with apartment roommates to your landlord. Although the landlord really cannot do anything in many scenarios, the landlord should be aware if he has a troublesome tenant. Depending on the conditions of the lease, you may have some opportunities to get a new roommate in the future. If you feel that you are in danger from a roommate who has gotten violent and destructive, you may call the police when he is in action and file a report.

Going to Small Claims Court

Take a roommate who will not make things right to court. While you will have to put out your own money in the pursuit of small claims court, it will be worth it, if as a deterrent for the roommate to treat others so disrespectfully in the future. Also, the roommate will also incur legal fees. If you have documented proof, the judge will likely rule in your favor, yet don’t expect a mass amount of money for small claims court. You’ll likely not make enough money from it to cover the legal fees and the damage done to your property. Many people do think it’s worth it on principal, though.

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