I was figuring out all the logistics of my away elective. Unfortunately, I didn’t know anyone in that city so I went online to find a place to stay for the month. I went on Craigslist and RotatingRooms.com, sending out a few emails. I only got one reply from a Craigslist post, so I went with it. It was cheap and close to the hospital. When I arrived at the house, the landlord was furnishing my room. The place was dirty but livable, and it’s not like I was going to be home a whole lot anyway. He told me there were 3 other guys living in the house including him. I give him 2 checks, one for the deposit and another for the first 2 weeks of the month.
“I don’t do checks.”
“Well, I don’t carry around a lot of cash…I’m not going anywhere, let me know if they bounce.”
“I can’t do checks. My friend says that it’ll cost me to deposit the checks.”
“I guess I can get cash at an ATM.”
I hand him the cash and he picks up a piece of paper from the floor, signs it and gives it to me as our “contract.” This only increased my concerns for this place but what other choice did I have? I got my house key and he told me I would get my room key later.
Three days later, I ask the landlord where my room key is.
“You have to pay for it.”
I pause for a second. “What do you mean, I have to pay for it?”
“You have to pay for it. I don’t have a key to that lock so I’ll have to get a new key. And these things cost money.”
“You own this place and I’m paying you for the room…”
An argument ensued and I find out that he preemptively used my deposit to furnish my room. And he was not planning on giving it back to me. Now I really wanted the key. I gave him $10 and ask him to get the key. A few days later, there was a new door lock still in its packaging in front of my door. I guess the landlord was expecting me to install it myself. I was annoyed; I did not have the tools or time to do this. And even though he lived in the same house, I barely saw him because I was at the hospital all the time. I debated for a while whether to stay or leave. On the last night of my 2nd week, the landlord knocks on my door asking about rent. I told him that I was leaving.
“You’re leaving? When were you going to tell me this? Where’s my 2 week notice?”
“Technically, I have another week since you are not going to give me my deposit back.”
“This is unethical. We had an agreement, you said you will be here for the month.”
“Yeah, except you lied to me and took my deposit.”
Another argument followed, which ended with my hastily packed bag being thrown out the door. It was midnight.
I called an acquaintance whom I had contacted before just in case something like this happened. She graciously picked me up and let me stay at her place until I found a new place to sublet. Thankfully, it wasn’t too long before I found a place on RotatingRoom.com.
Lessons learned: Plan early and have a backup plan. Always check out a place or have someone check for you before you move in. Or just have good friends in every city you rotate.