Q My daughter attends the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul. The school has no dorms, but she was paired up with another female student from the school, and they lived together in an apartment their freshman year. All went well.
This summer my daughter lived at home most of the week because she worked about 5 minutes from our home. She kept her stuff at the St. Paul apartment and started staying there again full-time in August. Her roommate's boyfriend has been staying there since the summer began, which did not bother my daughter when she wasn't there much. Now school has started and my daughter has told her roommate several times that the boyfriend must go -- but he has not left. He has no money, no job, eats their food -- in other words, he's a loser.
I think that the boyfriend verbally abuses the roommate and intimidates her to the point that she might be afraid to tell him to move out. They argue, she cries and says she wants him gone but does nothing, so it's drama, drama, drama.
The situation is beginning to affect my daughter's ability to do well in school. What are our options? Can I call the landlord and say there are three people living there and only two on the lease? Can the landlord legally kick the freeloader out? How might the girls protect themselves if he gets ugly?
I want my daughter to feel confident about handling the situation, but I am concerned that she is in a no-win situation. Please help us -- we don't want her moving home again, either.
A You can try to persuade the girlfriend to kick out the boyfriend or get a restraining order against him. If that doesn't work, contact the landlord and tell him about the third roommate. Most leases prohibit people who are not on the original lease from residing in the unit.
The landlord might decide to notify your daughter and her roommate that the third roommate is a lease violation and that unless he moves out, the landlord will pursue an eviction. If you make the call, your daughter can deny involvement and at least continue to live there. A letter from the landlord might scare your daughter's roommate into taking action against the boyfriend. If the boyfriend becomes violent over being kicked out, your daughter and her roommate should get a restraining order against him. Good luck.
Q On July 31, a potential tenant signed a one-year lease and gave me a check for the damage deposit and one month's rent. I turned over the keys. Because I was a bit suspicious, I went directly to the person's bank. There were insufficient funds. I called the tenant and asked for cash or a money order, then changed the locks. I never heard from that tenant again.
Now I have a new tenant, but I lost one month's rent while incurring utility and advertising expenses, not to mention a considerable amount of my time. Can I continue to try cashing the check to recoup my losses and send the would-be tenants any overage? If they have stopped payment or still have insufficient funds, can I take them to court? Or should I just be a Good Samaritan and hope my reward is greater in heaven?
A If the person signed a lease and gave you a check for rent, but there was no money in the account, of course you can attempt to collect the lost rent. You can sue in conciliation court to recoup the one month's rent you are out, or you can try to cash the check.
Minneapolis attorney Kelly Klein practices in housing issues and consumer rights. Do not rely on advice in this column regarding a legal situation until you consult a qualified attorney; information provided by readers is not confidential; participation in this column does not create an attorney/client relationship, and no such relationship is created without a retainer agreement with Klein. If you have renting questions, you can e-mail her at email@example.com, post questions at www.startribune.com/kellyklein or write in care of Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488.