I have a friend named Chris who is a registered sex offender. This is his story. With lots of housing searches and negative responses from potential landlords and in many cases without any response at all, Chris found a room in a roach infested shared apartment. He lived without any incident, paid rent on time and was courteous to everyone. He went above and beyond by cleaning the shared kitchen and the living-room even when other roommates did not seem to care.
Fast forward a year and a room was vacant in the apartment and the landlord found a woman as a possible tenant. Chris happened to meet the woman when she came to look at the room. They had a courteous conversation. She even told him of the church that she went to. In between the conversation, he told her of his situation of being in the sex offender registry since that was something that could not be hidden from a roommate as he was in a probationary period and his PO came anytime to check on him.
On the day the woman moved in, Chris helped her with carrying some of her belonging to the apartment. To Chris she seemed like any other roommate who came before her. However, that all was soon to be changed. The next morning, he saw a silhouette of a little girl entering the new tenant’s room, a big surprise. He got concerned and when he happened to meet the new tenant, he asked her if she had a child living with her. She acknowledged that and told him that she was babysitting for someone in her church. He told her that she could not have a minor in the apartment because of his situation. She told him that she understood the concern and that it was just for that weekend as someone in the church desperately needed a person to look after their child. Convinced by her answer but yet very worried, he spent the weekend praying that his PO would not knock his apartment door.
Every time he heard even a faint voice of the minor, he freaked out. Every time he saw the woman leave the apartment with the little girl, he freaked out. Every time he heard a knock on the front door, he freaked out hoping that it was not his PO. It was a waking nightmare for Chris because of the uncalled for situation. He knew deep down in his heart that he was no danger to anyone but how was he supposed to convince everyone with him being in the sex offender registry?
Chris immediately called the landlord and explained the situation. The landlord told him that the new roommate was explained to about his situation prior to her moving in and that she did not tell him about a minor living with her. Chris courteously asked the landlord to have the new tenant removed as it was against the lease to have more than one occupant living in a same room. The landlord assured him that he would explain that to her and see if she would move out. Meanwhile, every moment living in that apartment was a living nightmare to Chris. He spent more time outside with walking by a lake, hiking, or volunteering at a local men’s shelter.
A few days went by like that, in fear and in angst. The landlord called Chris back and told him that the woman could not move out because she had lots of belonging already in the apartment. Chris reiterated to the landlord that he could not live under the same roof with a minor. However, it seemed that because of him being in the sex offender registry the landlord did not have much opinion of him either. He wondered why the landlord bothered renting him a room in the first place! It was clear to him that he would have to move out, very soon. Chris did not want to go to a homeless shelter while he had already paid that month’s rent but he had no other choice.
While he was still in the apartment, he happened to see the woman and her daughter. It was evident that she lied about babysitting part and the little girl was her daughter. When he politely tried to ask her if she could move out, she threw a verbal assault on Chris and even threatened him that she would call police and tell them that he was harassing her, and even go as far as getting a protective custody against him. Chris was dumbfounded as he was always polite in his conversation and all that negativity was uncalled for. He did not want the situation to turn ugly. He felt very unfair because he had been living in the apartment for over a year and there came a new tenant and he had to move out.
The new tenant was unapproachable and the landlord was not helpful either. So with heavy heart, he left the apartment. To add insult to injury, the landlord refused to refund him the security deposit of a month’s rent since he could not give him a month’s notice in advance of him leaving. He tried to argue with the landlord that due to the adverse situation which he did not cause, he was compelled to break the lease. But his voice fell on the deaf ear of the landlord and the landlord told him to go to court if he wanted to claim the refund. So Chris was out of the apartment and was also cheated of his hard earned money. But who is with Chris when people see him as a registered sex offender?
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