Right now I am sitting in a cafe in London's Hackney neighborhood and I'm exhausted after another sleepless night. At the moment my position is rather dire and it is such because of someone else's decision to drastically take advantage of me, knowing what the consequences would be for me. I am asking for help because while I budgeted for unknowns, I didn't budget for someone to do to me what the subletter did.
HERE IS THE CURRENT SITUATION & WHAT I NEED: In the end, his actions will have cost me roughly $10k. I'm asking for help to recover and repay some of that as I see no real way to make it out of this without help. I have a little over $2k left in my accounts. What is left cannot continue to cover my costs in *London, my rent in **Boston, my cc bills, a plane ticket home, and daily life (such as minimal groceries) for 30 days. Let alone even provide a buffer on bills and living expenses when I return to Boston as I find a new job. (see asterisks side notes at bottom)
Additionally, I now owe $5700 on a loan from a very generous friend who stepped forward unexpectedly to help me save my Boston flat in August.
This goal amount repays him and makes sure that I have enough to get me through until I can get home and to make sure I am ok and my bare minimums are covered for a month after return as I get into a new job.
I'm ashamed that this happened and I'm angry, but anger isn't beneficial and I need everyone's help now. This is no longer a what might happen and is now a bad situation in which I am struggling to get through. I can't do this alone.
ANY amount helps, I did create a series of "rewards" that give a service or product in return, if it makes it easier for you to offer help. I truly appreciate anything though.
WHY NOT COME HOME NOW? What you may be asking right now... why don't I just come home now? I'd love to. But, while I technically have a home, I don't. He won't leave my flat. Even though I am paying for it, I can't live there while trying to evict him.
Because I don't know how long I will need a place to stay, expecting any friends to put me up in their guest room for more than a month, especially during the upcoming holidays, is an ask that I know is unacceptable.
Meanwhile, I am looking for work and initiating conversations and having skype interviews with companies back in Boston to start the process of finding work, but it takes time.
So, while I try and get a timeline of just when he'll leave, what my job outlook looks like, etc. I've been camping out here. But I want to come home.
I need everyone's help. I need your help.
THE BACKSTORY ON THE TRIP: Some of you know WHY I started this trip, many only know pieces. To be brief, but provide context... I have struggled to find my way since the economic crisis hit. While I've always been one who struggled a bit more than others, I pulled it all together and thought I'd figured it out when I started the pet store and business in 2007. Then the crisis hit and a family thing was the domino that sent it all downhill for me.
Since closing the business in 2010 I have had a series of personal and professional setbacks that I have not had the time and opportunity to recover from. I should have had the foresight to force those breaks to recover, but I didn't. As someone with chronic anxiety, I felt like I couldn't have the luxury to stop trying to line up the next set of ducks whenever some would fall out of place. It didn't feel like an option. So, instead of recovering from these setbacks, they piled on top of each other and on top of me.
Eventually, piles start to suffocate you. I had friends dying and I wasn't even living. I was in a number of toxic relationships at work and in my personal life. The decision to stop and claim a year for me, a year to reclaim, rediscover, and mostly to recover felt like palpably like a survival decision. I looked in the mirror and couldn't see myself. I'd become invisible and insignificant in my own life.
I had been hoarding money all that year for a potential relocation out of Boston and then I decided I needed something that wasn't just a change of locale, but a change of everything. So I doubled down on my saving, sold a bunch of things, advertised for a subletter, put my antiques in storage, and I bought a one-way ticket to Europe.
Was I afraid that it was the wrong decision? Yes. But the other decision felt like death to me. Unless you have ever been truly burnt out, you may not understand that. It may seem like an overly dramatic exaggeration to you. Except I couldn't breathe and I felt like I was dead inside. I was screaming for something to change and I was the only one who could change it.
On Feb. 6th I flew out of Boston to Paris, via Lisbon. I had never left the country before.
WHAT HAPPENED AFTER I LEFT? My subletter decided to start playing games shortly after I left Boston, creating an ongoing level of distress as I was frantically trying to manage the situation from afar and try to recover my trip. Eventually, he stopped all contact with me. Meanwhile, I begged his brother via FB messenger to PLEASE help talk some sense into him and I tried reaching out via all social channels to him.
The subletter, Phillip, knows the backstory on the trip. I had cried to him about how important this trip was to me prior to my leaving. I had cried to him and begged him before I left to PLEASE not screw me over. I needed to know he wasn't going to default on his sublet agreement, that he was going to pay his rent on time and that I wouldn't have anything to worry about. He looked me in the eyes and lied.
Every month it was some new drama with him. I was trained early not to relax because the other shoe was always dropping there. I told his brother I was coming home early, but his brother said he'd talk to him, and things seemed to sort out for a bit, but he wouldn't respond to messages, so I wasn't sure.
In August I received news from Boston that I was being given less than 48 hours to pay thousands of dollars or I'd lose my flat AND be taken to court for what was owed. While not a real option in my mind, even if I "chose" to default on the flat, I would be taken to court and made to pay, so this wasn't an option.
Because I was towards the end of my trip and certain things I had planned to do to bring in funds during the trip were unable to come to fruition, I couldn't use what remained of my operating funds to pay this. I needed the remainder of the money in my accounts to get me through until I could get home (I didn't expect or plan to stay in London this long, so the costs negatively impacted those operating funds as well). An unexpected friend stepped forward at the last hour and offered me a super short-term loan to save me from losing my home. (thank you, you know who you are)
But now, Phillip the subletter won't leave. His sublet agreement was over on August 30th, but he is squatting. The owner and I are evicting him, but Phillip knows the law leans towards tenants (and subletters) and he can milk it and drag it out since we are not legally able to throw him physically out and change locks. He has admitted to a mutual acquaintance that dragging this out is his plan. He does not care the impact on me.
WHAT NOW?? I want to come home. I am exhausted mentally and emotionally. I tried desperately to reclaim some of the last bit of this trip and gain something from it, but I came to the realization that that wasn't going to happen and I've given up. The trip I needed and wanted, it never happened.
I'm hoping the phone interview I had on Friday will lead to another call this week. I'm potentially going to have a free or super low cost flat to stay in for a couple weeks here. I'm trying to do some commissioned photo work for a friend. I'm hoping to get an idea of Phillip's reaction to the court and have a ballpark idea on when I can reclaim my flat and then figure out my stopgap housing situation so I can book a ticket and come home.
If you can help at all, please do.
SIDE NOTES FROM ABOVE
*London is already an expensive city but extra so with an exchange rate of 1-1:33. When I realized fully the extent of the damage by the subletter, I was already here and relocating to a cheaper country wasn't going to offset the costs much after airfares were factored in. **I have to continue to pay while he is squatting in the flat. The owner and I have initiated eviction, but the subletter knows that WE have to get him out and this can take months through the legal system. He's already made smug comments about his rights and how he's staying put.
- Erin Brenner
- Madlena Doncheva
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