San Francisco
Residence Type: 
3 or 4 units
Landlord Type: 
Private Landlord -- Rent Control

I moved into an apartment and lived there for about nine months with three others. Everyone got along great for a while, but one of my roommates, whom I had known for about three years previous to moving in, was very reluctant to discuss certain details of our apartment. She had lived there for considerably longer than everyone else. She was also the only person on the lease at the time when I moved in, although I personally never got on the lease, which was fine by me. Anyways, she had taken it upon herself to operate as the "head tenant" meaning that the utility bills were in her name and she would always write the rent check to the landlord. For the purposes of this story only, let's just say her name was "Aimee." Myself and my two other house mates would pay Aimee an amount of money which would include utilities each month, however the amount was static. My rent + utilities was always $500 (A great deal for our place).

The bad dealings resulted from the way that Aimee handled the Rent. I was very clearly informed that a "House Fund" was set up to absorb the excess money paid each month, which was built into the cost of each room. If the Utilities were low one month, there would be more excess money for the fund, and if the utilities were exceptionally high than we could dip into it and compensate. We also could use the money for house expenses like dish soap and toilet paper, or a party. To put it bluntly, no house fund ever existed. Aimee was using the excess money to subsidize her own rent, stealing from everyone else each month. Coincidentally, she had the largest room and the cheapest rent. I was foolish not to look deeper into the workings of the financial side of our home, but I knew her for years and trusted her.

Thankfully, I moved out and now live in a rockin co-op where we operate a transparent financial structure, where all out bills are paid out of a single account which everyone is listed on and has a debit card for. We buy communal food, have a potluck every week and love life.

If your reading this, take one lesson away. Communication is the lubrication of community. Force the issue, figure it out, and be sure to stay honest.


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