We all have roommate horror stories—tales of deadbeats, grifters, unrepentant yogurt-stealers. We’ve lived with people who play crappy techno music, or who constantly lock themselves out of the apartment at 2am, or whose romantic exertions are a bit too…um…vocal.
But some roommates are truly next level terrible. In honor of this spooky season, we thought it’d be appropriate to gather our team’s own tales of doom and woe. We heard stories of holes punched into walls, shoes peed on in the middle of the night, and sociopathic thefts galore…
Be grateful if your own living situation isn’t so…horrific. We’ve shielded the names of our contributors to protect the innocent—and to avoid any…retribution…(mwahahaha, etc).
FYI: Renters insurance won’t cover you against the daily stress of psycho roommates. But some of the damage from these blood-crawling tales could have been mitigated with the right policy…read until the bitter end to find out how.
“My last roommate chased a rat in our apartment… with a machete,” H. says, still shuddering at the memory. “I don’t know why she had it or where she got it, but I heard a scream from the kitchen because she found a rat under our oven. I went to go call pest control and I walked back out to her running around the kitchen with a giant machete saying ‘oh raaat, ohhh raaat where are you??'”
The Sticky Fingered Liar
“While studying for my undergraduate degree, I shared an apartment with two other girls,” A. tells us. “I came back after a weekend away and something in my room felt off… my bed was messy, and there was a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of my body lotion. Also, I noticed some of my things, mainly clothes, were gone.
One of my roommates claimed to be missing a pair of shoes. My third roommate joined in to say that her makeup was gone.
A few days later, Supposedly Missing Her Shoes Roommate went on vacation to Thailand. I clicked on her Facebook to check out her vacation pics. I couldn’t believe my eyes—she was wearing one of my missing shirts while posing in front of some Thai temple. There was no doubt it was mine.
I discussed the matter with my Missing Makeup Roommate, and we decided to confront Supposedly Missing Her Shoes Roommate once she was back. She kept denying everything. So we told her she had to move out and give back all our stuff. We even threatened to sue her. The next day, we found a bag full of clothes and other items in front of our door. Some stuff was mine and my other roommates. Other items, though, we didn’t recognize at all…
My last encounter with her was after she had moved out. I had already changed the locks. She went into a fit of rage, banging against the door, shouting like a lunatic. I was so glad she couldn’t get in.”
The Nightmare That Lies Beneath…
“In my first New York apartment, I was given the task of finding a new roommate to fill an empty bedroom,” says S. “I was single at the time—and in my late twenties, and stupid—so I treated this process more like a round of speed-dating. Needless to say, the ‘perfect roommate’ I found just happened to be very pretty. And Suzanne liked poetry!
You should never be romantically involved with a roomie, and you should definitely never choose a roommate because you want to become romantically involved with them.
I was away on a work trip when Suzanne texted me with some exciting news: She’d discovered that, underneath the boring linoleum tiling of our living room, there was actually a beautiful hardwood floor! Would I mind if she took up the tiling to unveil this hidden treasure? Who could say no?
Needless to say, I returned home to find what looked like the unrefurbished shop floor of a 19th-century factory. Absolutely filthy and completely disgusting—it would have required professional help and several thousand dollars to get it into a less-than-repulsive shape. It took many annoying hours to jigsaw back the tiles and make the living room somewhat livable.
A few months later, that roommate moved out—to find a place with her new boyfriend. He had unflatteringly long hair, played the drums, and was a total jerk. To compensate for the fact that he constantly crashed at the apartment and didn’t pay rent, he once fixed the float in our toilet with a $5 replacement part from Home Depot. When they moved out, he took the toilet parts with him.”
“This is not my horror story, but my friend’s,” clarifies H., who seems shaken regardless. “In college, she had a roommate who came from a pretty sheltered background, had never really drank alcohol, and was having trouble adjusting to living in the city. The roommate started over-drinking pretty regularly. Cue to my friend waking up because the roommate came home and mistook my friend’s bed for…the toilet. Now I know why NYU’s mattresses have plastic covers…”
A Blob On The Ceiling
Sometimes the nightmare roommate isn’t a roommate at all—sometimes it’s a superintendent with serious boundary issues. And sometimes it’s a semi-sentient mass of water, dying to invade your home…
“My first apartment ever was a cheap, small two bedroom in Astoria that my friend and I moved into after college,” says K, chills reverberating up his spine. “A run-of-the-mill thunder storm led to a small leak in my ceiling. I texted a picture to the building super, who was this weird guy named Greg who frequently used his key to get into our apartment and use our bathroom (separate issue. He also kept trying to get us to hang out with him at a local strip club and neither of us were into that scene. Real weird dude.)
Anyways, Greg doesn’t respond to the picture. A few days later, the small leak becomes a big brown streak along the top of the ceiling. I text a new picture. He says, ‘Okay I’ll take a look tomorrow.’ Tomorrow comes but Greg doesn’t and now that rust-colored streak is cracking.
I text a new picture and he says ‘Okay I’ll come by this weekend.’ The crack grows exponentially over the next couple days before the weekend. Greg does not show up that weekend and now there is a weird bubble forming around the crack in my ceiliing. It rains, and I set up a system of pots and pans to catch the various drips coming through. Soon after this, around 2am, I was awoken by a terrifying crash. The bubble was apparently load-bearing, and broke, causing the plaster to collapse onto the floor, pots, pans, and my bed.
This left a giant hole in the ceiling which I texted a picture of. ‘Okay, I’ll be right over,’ said Greg.”
Romance In The Dark
“I was living in an apartment with three other people in Bushwick, Brooklyn,” says D. “None of us had met each other prior to living together. One night I walked into our living room to find all three of them in, um… an intimate entanglement. I made eye contact with one of them, so they definitely knew I saw before running out of the room.
That night was never mentioned or brought up for the rest of the time i was living there. And oh, this happened like two weeks before the pandemic shut everything down—so after that we were all locked up in the same apartment for a few more months before our lease was up…”
Mystery of the Vanishing Weed
“In college—Ithaca, circa 2004—random stuff would go missing between our house and our good friend’s house . Everything from brand new peanut butter—which is like gold in college—to t-shirts to weed. Like, it’d just magically disappear… Very spooky,” says J.
“Then one day one of the roommates had $5,000 missing from his checking account. The bank told him that they cashed a check made out to cash, but didn’t have cameras to see who had come in to cash it. Cops were notified obviously, but we had no idea who did it.
Another roommate checked his account and saw several transactions over the course of the last month for a couple hundred bucks here and there…same thing, bank cashed checks made out to cash. On a whim, the roommate that was defrauded for $5,000 searched our upstairs roommate’s bedroom when he wasn’t home…and sure enough…found various items that had gone missing including his checkbook. Needless to say the roomate was kicked out of school, restitution paid by his parents, and we never heard from him again…”
Nibbles At Night
“My then-girlfriend and I were getting eaten at night by something, for months,” M. says, frantically itching his arms, “but could never find a trace of bed bugs anywhere in our room. My friend wasn’t getting bitten at all. After months, I had everyone search the apartment. Turns out my friend’s room was like a bed bug condominium, but he wasn’t being affected by the bites. The bugs were seemingly coming into our room at night, eating the shit out of us, and then commuting back to his room to hide… probably because he never cleaned it or washed his sheets.
I kind of forgot how horrible that period of time was. I’ve blocked it out of my memory. The day I broke down and made everyone tear everything apart, my friend went into his room for like two minutes, and comes back out holding a bug in his hand. He went back into his room and I just heard him say ‘Oh no…OH no…oh god…‘ He found so many more. So. Many.”
Creepy, creepy coverage!
Your renters insurance can’t protect you from walking into a polyamorous roommate threesome, or many other roommate horror stories. But here’s how your coverage might have applied in these scenarios:
- Theft of your belongings would be covered, whether you’re at home or somewhere else (but stolen cash is only covered up to $200),
- A ceiling leak that drenches your personal belongings would be covered.
- Rat problems would not be covered, nor would a machete-related injury (unless the person who was injured was a visitor who did not live in your household).
- Bed bug treatment is not covered, but here’s some intel to help you avoid this trauma.
- Intentional damage is not covered (like if your heartbroken roomie decided to punch a hole the wall)
- If your toilet overflows and damages your mattress, that would be covered. But if your drunken roommate uses your mattress as a toilet… you’re out of luck.