Here's a question of roommate, or more to the point, ex-roommate conflict:
This is a question about ethics involving former roommates and the furniture they sometimes leave behind. Three months ago, my former roommate moved out. He had purchased an inexpensive futon for the living room (for which I purchased the grip strips to hold the mattress up—a significant percentage of the overall cost), and when he moved out, I assumed that he would be taking it with him.
On the day he gave me back his keys, however, he told me that he was putting the futon on Craigslist, but that if it didn’t sell in twelve days or so to consider it mine. It seemed like a good chance to take for a piece of furniture, so I agreed. As I’d paid the brunt of the household expenses (he consistently shorted me on the cable bill and hardly ever bought household supplies) and had done all of the cleaning, I thought that possibly getting a futon was a fair trade. Twelve days passed, a month passed, three months passed, and I never heard from him. I got a futon out of this deal, right?
Well, last night I got a text message from my former roommate saying that he wanted to pick up the futon on Wednesday. To my mind, he’s abandoned that futon, and he has no claim on it. I sent a text message in return saying that I was sorry but that it wasn’t OK and that my apartment wasn’t a storage facility. His response was that “If that’s the way you want it. I’ll be in touch soon.”
So here’s my question—Am I correct in thinking that the futon is mine? Would it be ethical to charge him a storage fee if he insisted on getting it back? I think you can tell that things didn’t end on the best note, but he isn’t a bad guy. I’m more interested in the principle of the thing than the futon at this point.
What do you all think? What unaddressed issues leap out at you from this question?
As usual, I'll post my response to your comments next week (new questions run here on Monday and Thursday, except in case of holidays; responses go up Tuesday or Wednesday and Friday). If you want more to read in the meantime, check out my other blog here.)
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