In February, New York magazine’s article “Worst Roommate Ever” went viral. Detailing the life and crimes of Jamison Bachman, the piece lives up to its title, revealing how the serial squatter used his legal education to slowly but forcefully edge his roommates out of their own homes. Using technical terminology to intimidate and taking several cases to court, Bachman left behind a string of victims spread across the East Coast over several years. And according to author William Brennan, Bachman did it largely for kicks, thrilled to use his legal acumen to manipulate others. If he lost a case, he simply moved on to another home and another victim.

Jamison Bachman is, obviously, an extreme example of roommate quarrels, but while you’re unlikely to come across a Jamison Bachman, you may have already made crucial mistakes that people like Bachman often exploit. For instance, he found several of his victims via Craigslist, a common practice in the modern age that can lead to a mixed bag of potential roommates. If using this site, it’s important to verify the identities of anyone who responds, asking for several references.

Also crucially missing in several of Bachman’s cases was a written roommate agreement. This should detail the responsibilities of each party when it comes to rent, utilities, renter’s insurance, cleaning, pets, guests, noise, food, and possible additional costs like broken appliances. If you are a renter yourself, make sure you know your rental agreement inside and out, understanding exactly what you’re responsible for regarding your roommate, tenant, or co-tenant. You can even ask your landlord for separate rental agreements.

Consulting a lawyer is the wisest decision when confronted with a combative roommate situation. You will benefit by having the proper legal documentation in place to protect everyone involved, and/or consulting legal help when things start to turn south. Contact Bellah Perez, PLLC at 602-252-9937.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.