At the end of February this year I decided to look at renter options. I live in a big house and several people had encouraged me to rent one of my rooms. One friend was very persistent about it, to the point of being demanding, and I couldn’t get her voice out of my mind.
I had rented space in my house many times before but not in about 10 years. I really didn’t want to do it and that should have been my first clue.
I was looking at Craigslist on a whim and found an ad that sounded like something I could do short term. This is the ad:
Two Month Rental wanted for March and April (St. Paul)
My 6 month lease is up at the end of February and I have an apartment lined up for May 1st. However that leaves a two month time frame where I need to find a temporary place.
Brief about me:
I’m a writer in my early 30’s that works at a well established art gallery in downtown St. Paul 6 days a week (sometimes 7) 9-11 hour days.My work schedule is typically 10 am to 9pm. Sometimes the start and end times fluctuate an hour.
I dont drink or party. I do not mind those who do, as long as they remain respectful and safe to be around.
I do not have a significant other, so I won’t be having any over night guests.
I moved back to Minnesota in mid August from San Diego where I worked at a Greyhound rescue center. Aside from California and my college days in Denver I’ve lived and worked in the twin cities for most of my life.
My hope is to find a simple and safe living arrangement that is as close to my job if not closer. That leaves about a 10 mile max commute out of downtown. I love to bike to work in the summer so location is a factor. I’m a very clean and organized person, but that’s just me. I’ve lived happily with messy people during times in my life.
I also enjoy oddjob DIY home improvement projects when im not working . The homeowner of my current rental in South St lowered my rent to redo his basement and vestibule, which he was very happy with. I’m in good shape physically and can contribute basic handy man skills and yard work.
I’ve never been evicted from anywhere or late on a rental payment.
I’d really appreciate responses from individuals looking for a temporary renter or a month to month basis. I have May 1st all lined up for housing, just unfortunately, not the immediate two months. Any responses would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for your time and consideration.
This person sounded perfect. I could do this for two months and it would be a win/win for both of us. I could make some extra money, which I needed, and he would have an interim place to stay.
Before he moved in I met his aunt, who is a Judge for the State of Minnesota. I said to her “He seems like a great guy” to which she replied that he was and she hope this would be a good situation for both of us. With the information in his ad and his aunts affirmation it looked like a go. ( I found out later that she purposely withheld information because he was living in her son’s basement and they wanted him out. She actually put my life in jeopardy because she knew he was dangerous)
LW moved in. He was polite, respectful and a likable young man. He was respectful of my space and accommodating to my requests. The first 2 weeks he lived in my house he worked long hours so wasn’t home much.
He wanted me to know more about him because he was living in my house so he slowly began sharing his history. Some good and some not so good. At the beginning of the third week he quit his job. The second one he had since moving in. That day he sat down with me and shared that he had been in jail for a year for domestic violence and was in residential treatment for drug and alcohol addiction in California. (Not working in a grey hound rescue center) He was in jail for assaulting three different women. He said he only got violent when he was drunk and he wasn’t drinking anymore.
Great! Me a single woman with a potentially violent male living in my house. The one benefit in my favor was that I had 26 years experience as a therapist behind me so I knew how to de escalate and talk to people with mental health issues.
At this point I would like to address the fact that several people have said I was stupid for renting to someone from a Craigslist ad. The truth is, an unstable person could put an ad anywhere. They could place an ad on a college bulletin board, on the Nextdoor app, in a coffee shop, or even come from the recommendation of a judge. Everyone on Craigslist list is NOT unstable. Unstable people can be found everywhere. Based on the information I had, this sounded like a good roommate.
Another important factor is, unstable people work very hard at looking normal, maybe even overcompensating, like LW did in his ad. What he said was mostly true…when he is clean and sober and on medication.
Through some kind of divine intervention, I met his sister and she had my phone number because he used my phone to call her. One morning I got a message from her that he had threatened to kill a family friend and there was a order of protection against him. That is when my anxiety kicked in. I wanted him out immediately! I talked to a neighbor and put a safety plan in place and gave my daughter information in case something happened to me.
I had watched his manic state escalating since he left his job and it was keeping me awake. We had talked about it several times and he said he would be more conscious of the noise. With this recent information I wanted him to move out.
The next morning, I got up the courage to ask him to leave. Trust me, it took a great deal of courage because I knew he could explode.
AND SO ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE!
I told him he needed to find a new place to live. I told him it was because of the mania and my not being able to sleep. I didn’t want him to know I had spoken to his sister or that I knew about his terroristic threat. Instead I said I hoped he got help for his mania because it was not going to go away on its own and that I thought he was a great guy and wanted him to have a happy life. He told me he was worthless and left the house.
He didn’t return for 10 hours. I heard him come in and I got anxious. He was in the kitchen slamming things around and I heard him talking to a woman so I felt I was safe. I was in my room on the second floor and I could smell alcohol all the way up the stairs.
When he started storming up the stairs swearing and screaming I knew I was alone in the house with a violent drunk man. He had been talking in both a man and a woman’s voice. A classic psychotic break.
As he passed my room he angrily stated mimicking things I had said to him. As soon as he passed me room, I ran for my life out of the house. I went to a neighbors house and the police were called.
At first they wouldn’t remove him from my house because he was just drunk, hadn’t harmed me and it was my fault for renting to someone I didn’t know. Victim shaming at its best. I was in a full blown panic attack by that time, feeling helpless, shaking to my core and freezing at the same time. I could calm down. While I was out of the house he was destroying my things.
The police didn’t care about my heart history. They told me to go back into the house. They would only take him if he hurt me. His sister called me and patched her brother in on a three way and I handed the cop the phone and he put it on speaker phone. LW threatened to kill me, his sister, said he was satan and knew witchcraft and other threatening things. The police went to my house and took him away.
I had a stress induced cardiomyopathy heart attack and spent two days in the hospital.
I will never rent to anyone again. If you are considering renting to someone you don’t know, no matter where you found their ad, do a background check and get references before you say yes. It could save you a lot of heart break.