How to Deal with a Check-Bouncing Roommate

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There are lots of good reasons to have roommates, like the ability to afford an apartment in a better area, reduced utility and housing costs, and simple companionship. However, having roommates can also be risky, especially if they’re not good with money. After experiencing more than my share of bad roommates, I lived alone for several years. My husband also had his share of bad roommates. Here are a few of the ways we both dealt with check-bouncing roommates.

Require Your Roommate to Cover Bounced Check Fees

The first time a roommate bounced a check to me, I made her pay the bounced check fees I had been charged. She whined that it wasn’t fair of the banks to charge me, and I agreed, but the fact is they did and I shouldn’t have to pay for her poor money management.

Require Payments in Cash

The second time that roommate bounced a check to me, I asked her to pay her bills in cash. In this case, I had several roommates (college-owned apartment, I had to take the roommates I got), and each person had one bill in her name. We wrote each other checks to cover our share. This check-bouncing roommate was soon required to pay all of us in cash because she bounced checks left and right. Cash doesn’t bounce.

Split Payments

I later moved in with a new roommate who’d also been burned by check-bouncing roommates. Since there were only two us, we simply divided each bill between us and we each wrote a check to the company to cover our portion. Although you’re still be held liable for the full bill if your roommate bounces her portion, you won’t be stuck with check-bouncing fees and can ask your roommate to rectify the situation before you pony up more dough.

Cut a Deal

If your roommate has bounced a portion of the rent, but there are other unpaid bills he could put on a credit card, agree that you will cover the rent if covers an equivalent amount of other bills. Although you are contributing to your roommate getting credit card debt, you don’t deserve to be penalized for his financial woes.

Move Out or Get Rid of the Roommate

If the situation continues, you’ll either have to move out or kick out your roommate. Either way, give him 30 days notice of your intent so he can find a new situation. I opted to live alone because I couldn’t stomach another roommate and rent was reasonable where I wanted to live. My husband kicked his roommate out and found a new one who paid her bills. I also know someone whose bad roommate nearly got her evicted. She made a deal with the landlord that she could stay if she found a new roommate, but her check-bouncing roommates still had to go. She was totally okay with that solution because it solved several problems at once.

File a Police Report

If the check-bouncing gets really out of control, you may have to file a police report. When I worked in retail, a mother called and told us to file charges against her daughter because she was a serial check-bouncer. That’s what the police call check fraud, and it is a crime.

It can be difficult dealing with a check-bouncing roommate. Often these people are our friends. At the very least, we have to see them every day. Some of these solutions won’t go over will with your roommate, but you have to protect your own finances first. It’s harsh, but it’s true.

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