(no subject)

I'm in the middle of some pretty stressful renters/roommate/lease drama and looking for advice.

I’ve been trying to get out of my apartment lease for a few months now because the rent increased to the point where I can’t really afford it anymore. I can give more backstory on this if anyone is interested, but long story short the only way I could move without big financial repercussions was to get a roommate. The problem was that the apartment is a super tiny one bedroom that is nowhere near big enough for two people and I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to share it with me. I found a friend who agreed to go on the lease as my “roommate”; I moved out, he moved in, we are both on the lease and he is paying 80% of the rent (paying 20% of the rent at the old place AND rent at my new place still saves me about $250 a month, so I’m fine with this).

Everything fell into place this past weekend, he moved all of his stuff in on Friday and I moved the last of my things out on Saturday. On Friday night he dropped off a check for September’s rent and caught a flight out of state for a 2 week trip. Two days after I deposited the check I checked my bank account balance and saw that it had been withdrawn. I spoke with my bank and found out that his checking account had been closed.

I don’t have enough money to cover all of the rent and won’t for two weeks. Even if I were to borrow enough to pay all of it, that would leave me no money for food or transportation to work. The “roommate” is out in the middle of the desert with no cellphone reception or access to internet and I won’t be able to get in touch with him until a week after the rent is due (late fees in this building are ridiculous, I’d be paying hundreds of extra dollars). From what it looks like on my end he wrote me a check, closed his checking account, and left the state.

I don’t know what to do. I have three other people interested in the apartment, two of whom would be willing to move in ASAP and pay rent up front, but all of this guy’s things are there and I don’t have the time or resources to move or store them. He has so much big, bulky furniture and so many boxes everywhere that I can’t even really show the place to anyone because it’s so cramped and messy. Several people have suggested that I sell his things (he doesn’t have a reputation for being super trustworthy and most of our mutual friends think he intentionally did this to get free storage for his stuff for September) but I’m really not comfortable with that.

I’m also considering just not paying the rent and getting evicted. I know this seems dramatic but this is the third month in a row that I have had trouble making rent and I’m pretty sure if I’m even a day late on rent they are going to start eviction procedures anway. I live in Washington state and I’ve heard/read mixed information on evictions here, but I do know that the 20% rent increase wasn’t legal because I wasn’t given 60 days notice so hopefully that would help my case. If I ended up getting evicted it would be all on my rental history since the paperwork for the “roommate” hasn’t been processed yet. Also, all of his stuff would be in the apartment and like I said, I don’t have the ability to move it or store it so I have no idea what would happen with it.

So, what would you do? This is super TL;DR, but I would appreciate any advice or insight, this rent is due in full by the 5th so I’m in a major time crunch and really not sure what I should do.

UPDATE: One of my boyfriend's friends is moving in the apartment this weekend, thankfully! He knows the situation, is fine with having the furniture around for a bit, and said he wanted to be there if/when the other guy picked it up just in case he got physical with me or anything. I don't know what's going to happen next but for now it looks like everything has worked out.
Call him. Tell him if his shit isn't out of the apartment by this Saturday, he either a) owes you for rent for the month, because you are storing his stuff, or b) it all goes to goodwill.

If you don't hear from him by Saturday morning, call him again and reiterate.

Then do it.
The "roommate" is out of cellphone reach, and is basically incommunicado. Any message the OP leaves will be a courtesy message.

My opinion is that the OP should go ahead and leave that courtesy message, because no one writes a check and closes an account accidentally. The message should go something like, "You've done x, y, and z, so I'm taking this action. If I don't hear from you in two weeks your stuff is going to Goodwill." Then she should put his stuff in a corner of the apt. and move to make herself whole with someone who is more trustworthy.

Good luck, OP!

Watch out, because it depends on laws. I live in new York, and you have to go through eviction proceedings on roommates, so an illegal lockout can get you in a lot of trouble.

Yeah this is what I'm fuzzy on. I hadn't even turned in his rental application to the landlord yet when this happened so he is not on the lease, and our verbal agreement was that he pay me September's rent before he left on his trip. I should probably get a lawyer I guess..

He's not on the lease?

Guess what. No paperwork. No deal.

Double check that, but if he's NOT on the lease, then he has no lawful say.
Sorry, I wasn't super clear in my post. He was going to be on the lease per our original plan but all of this was decided a week ago and we weren't able to get the paperwork to him in a timely manner so he couldn't fill it out before moving his stuff in. I was literally about to walk out the door to drop it off with my rental company on Monday when I thought to check my checking account balance and figured out what had happened with the check.
Intentionally writing a bad check is a felony. The op should threaten to press charges if the "roommate" gives them any trouble, and then call the good will or salvatikn army to come pick up the stuff. Alternatively, you can hold on to it and refuse to give it back to him until he pays the rent.
Word. It's not a felony in my state unless the check is over a certain dollar amount and this check is just under, but it's still a misdemeanor and a more serious offense than just writing an NSF check because the account is closed. My bank is encouraging me to file a police report just in case.
I have called him several times, left voicemails, sent text messages, messaged him on Facebook...I even got in touch with most of our mutual friends to see if they knew what was going on or if I could reach him but no dice.