The Roommate Situation

I’ve been short on roommates lately. I have two empty rooms to rent and I haven’t had any roommates in the last couple months — which makes paying the mortgage pretty hard. So a couple of weeks ago I put an ad in the paper. The very first day the ad ran I had two people call me. The first person, I’ll call him Joe, said he would like to take the room but just needed a couple of days to get the money together. The second person, I’ll call him Victor, told me he loved the place and wanted to take it. Victor couldn’t move in until July 1st, but told me that he would write me a cheque for June anyway to hold the place for him. Things were looking up.

A day or two later I got a call from Joe. He said he couldn’t get out of his current lease as quickly as he had thought and so he wanted to let me know he wouldn’t be taking the room. Joe seemed like a cool guy so I was disappointed but life goes on.

Later I stopped off at the bank to cash Victor’s cheque. They gave me cash and everything seemed cool; so things were still looking up. That day, just after returning from the bank, I found a message from Victor on my answering machine. It said, “About that cheque I gave you — someone gave me a bad cheque and so it might not clear, so if you haven’t cashed it yet I’ll bring you some cash and get it back from you.”

Well I had cashed it already and the bank didn’t seem to have a problem with it, I explained to Victor. He figured he must have had enough cash in the bank even with the bad cheque he’d gotten and advised me not to worry about it. Things were a little odd, but still looking good. I was still getting calls for my other room — they seemed like sketchy characters and I didn’t take them but at least people were looking.

Suddenly the phone rang, Anna-Maria picked it up. Victor couldn’t take the room anymore, he said he was on his way over to get back his $350 and he would explain more fully when he arrived.

I told Anna-Maria that I don’t really have to give him his money back, after all he paid me to hold the room and that’s exactly what I was doing. But I also said that I wouldn’t be a jerk and give him it back since it had only been a couple of days.

His explanation boiled down to the fact that the contract he had signed for his previous place said he had to live there for 6 months before he could break the contract and move out. Also he had to give 30 days notice before leaving. He thought he could give his 30-day notice before the end of the six months but his landlord said no. Even though I thought it sounded like his landlord was just screwing him over he just said he didn’t want the hassle and was sorry for the inconvenience he caused me. He would take back his money but leave me $50 for my trouble. So at least I would have some cash for another ad if needed.

Days past. I was pursuing my bank account status over the Internet and was shocked to discover that I had been debited $350 for a cheque that never cleared! Oh hell – I think I have been scammed.

I called up Victor and explained the situation. Luckily he seems pretty apologetic and sounds like he wants to make everything right. He says we’ll go down to the bank together, get the cheque back, and then he’ll pay me back and any charges the bank may have given me. He specifically mentioned that he needs his cheque back before he will pay me for it. I called the bank this morning to find out if they do, in fact, still have the cheque and if I can get it back. It turns out that when a NSF cheque bounces, they mail it to you — which means I have to wait until I get it in the mail before he will pay me back.

Needless to say this is all a very big headache.

On the other hand I have two new roommates — one of whom moved in on Saturday and another one is moving in on the 25th. We’ll see how this bounced cheque situation works out, but for now things are looking good again.

3 Replies to “The Roommate Situation”

  1. Sounds to me like you have it right. Can you spell S C A M? Your bank cashed his check for you because you had enough money in your account to cover it if it bounced… Which it did… And then they just debit your account. Too bad for you that you gave this loser cash back. You basically cashed his bad check for him with your account. It could've even been a stolen check. Did you write down his driver's lic. number?

  2. I never wrote his driver's license down, (which I will do from now on – thanks for the tip) but I have talked to him since. I still think I'll get my money back. I don't think it was a stolen cheque because I was there when he wrote it but now that you mention it, it is totally possible, I never asked for ID. I think if he were trying to scam me though he wouldn't return my calls. I'll wait to see how things turn out and hope for the best.

  3. If you get a cheque that you're not 100% sure about, take it to the bank that the cheque is drawn on to cash it instead of just depositing it.

    When you get the cheque back, try taking it to his branch and cashing it there. Don't forget 2 pieces of id. They can match the signatures on the cheque and signature card.

    If you cash the cheque at his branch, you avoid the run around of waiting for him to come in and give you your $300 back. He is the one that should be hassled because of this, not you.

    If the signatures don't match, and he won't give you the money right away, call the police.

    I assume that you have his phone number. I recommend that you do a reverse look up on the guy via the internet or find out as much about him as you can.

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