Animal Law, Law Schools, Pets, United Kingdom / Great Britain

When Living With Law Students Goes Real Wrong

Roommate disputes with normal people are distressing. There are fights and recriminations, there are passive-aggressive maneuvers, there are stolen Cheerios and girlfriends.

Roommate disputes with lawyer people can include all of the above, but they almost always include dense, pedantic arguing. It’s like how in the wild, all the little cubs will play-fight each other to prepare for adulthood, only much, much less cool. It’s very annoying, not just because you have to fight about everything (“Sunday is your day to take out that trash”), but also because law students will drop legal-sounding terms into their arguments (“Yes, but pursuant to our agreement, my duty only vests if you have executed trash removal on Saturday night, which you did not, in the instant case.”). You think I’m joking, but live with other law students for a couple of months and tell me how long it takes before you attempt to murder them.

God forbid multiple law roommates end up disputing the correct interpretation or application of a lease agreement. Honestly, I’d rather wrestle for food with a bear than fight with a bunch of law roomies over something in the lease. Don’t believe me? Check out this seven-page email thread about the legal and metaphysical consequences of taking care of a friend’s rabbit….

We’ve got three British law students living in a warren somewhere in the U.K. The tipster who forwarded us that thread referred to them as “Roommate 1, 2, and 3″ respectively. But I’m going to call them:

  • Roommate 1 = General Woundwort
  • Roommate 2 = Fiver
  • Roommate 3 = Bigwig

You’ll see why. Woundwort sets us up:

To Bigwig, when the plumber was adjusting the thermostat today, we discovered the pet in your room. Please provide an account for it. I hope you have acquired permission from the Landlord or the Agent pursuant to section 15.1 TA reproduced below, and preferably have informed the other tenants too, as we are all liable to the same extent in law if things go wrong.

—Tenancy Agreement —
Animals and Pets
15.1. Not to keep any animals or birds (whether domestic or otherwise) in the Premises without the prior consent of the Landlord or the Agent which will not be unreasonably withheld.

For the record, where any damage has been caused or cleaning required due to the pet, I will NOT assume responsibility and compensate the Landlord for it under section 5.6.

Come on, you hate Woundwort, immediately and viscerally already, right? Even if he’s right, this is just a prick way to make the point.

But Bigwig does not cover himself in glory with his responses. It turns out that Bigwig was keeping a friend’s rabbit in his room for a little bit (yes, I’ve decided that the rabbit’s name must be Hazel). At that point, once you are busted, I think the appropriate thing is to say “sorry, mates,” and promise to remove the rabbit as soon as possible. Bigwig went in another direction:

Nope I did not, and the pet isn’t permanent, just a guest for 4 days. It’s not an issue at all but if you want to angst over it, I suggest you call the landlord and see if they want to charge all of us for it. And I doubt they would waive anything just because you say so…

Your going into my room without permission is absolutely unacceptable by the way. If you do this again I will presume all losses are dishonesty on your part…

While you’re at it, why don’t you update them on us subletting? No? Or the vacuum cleaner you broke and have yet to replace? We are NOT about to assume responsibility and compensate the Landlord for you either, so don’t you worry about that.

Dude, don’t be a douche. You’re hiding a rabbit in your room and you didn’t tell anybody. Just, like, admit it and move on with your life.

Alas, the warring parties got into a bit of a back and forth:

WOUNDWORT: “In sum, I just don’t think you have any valid grounds for making such an objection. You brought in a pet without permission, and did not inform us (or at least me) about it. This itself is not acceptable to begin with – you knowingly broke the agreement and endangered our legal positions! I’m not trying to be personal in any way, but I just hope that you can learn to deal with matters in an appropriate way. As far as I can see, you don’t even have a ground to disagree.”

BIGWIG: “I think you are embarrassing yourself with your lack of common sense. If they came back to investigate the issue the rabbit would probably be gone. Fiver knew about this before you did, too. Why don’t you learn how real people behave and join us in civilisation?”

WOUNDWORT: “I am unimpressed and seriously disappointed by your attitude. You have CLEARLY done something really wrong and are still trying to gloss over it. I’ll also tell you how real people behave. Real people behave by considering other people’s interests; real people respect rules save in the most exceptional cases… ‘If they came back to investigate the issue the rabbit would probably be gone’ – very true. But – so what? Does that mean that you can do whatever you want in the knowledge that you will probably not get caught?”

BIGWIG: “I’m very disappointed by your attitude too. I live next doors and I’ve never felt as if you treated me with respect. I’ve moved your luggage into your room over the months you were away and you never once acted on your promise to treat us to dinner. In fact, you have just been selfish and cold. Every time something happened you chose to sulk or you behaved in a manner that was opposed to a cooperative and friendly union. I struggle to understand what you actually want to achieve. Because of your attitude, I decided that you do not actually deserve to share anything with me.

And yes, you can do whatever you want with the knowledge you will probably not get caught. On top of that, they do NOT want more work with more people having to come down! You must be joking if you think they would send someone with billable hours down to investigate something. You have no idea how the real world works, and until you do, you’re going to break things and watch me fix it after you.”

WOUNDWORT: “Firstly, your unsuccessful attempt to shy away from your wrongful conduct in your first paragraph is so apparent. You know that’s not relevant at all! (I do have a response to that as well, but for the sake of the integrity of this discussion, it should be left for another post)

Secondly, are you even studying at university (and law, no less) when you say you can do whatever you want with the knowledge you will probably not get caught? My two cents: nobody will pay any respect to you when you say you practise law – so don’t even think about entering the legal profession and sullying this honourable calling.”

A POX ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES! It’s not a big deal that will “endanger your legal positions!” NO, you can’t “do whatever you want with the knowledge you will probably not get caught.” And what the hell does harboring a rabbit have to do with the “honourable” practice of law? I hope the rabbit escapes the cage and NIBBLES OFF YOUR FACES in the middle of the night.

You’d think it would end there, but no, these idiots actually feel the need to call the landlord to arbitrate their dispute. Non-lawyers, this is all you ever need to know about the perils of dating an attorney — no argument can end until a winner is declared… even when it is clearly more trouble that it’s worth:

WOUNDWORT: “You know what, if you still think that there’s no problem with what you did, and your ‘you can do whatever you want with the knowledge you will probably not get caught’ logic is right, we should let other people judge it.”

BIGWIG: “Actually I’m not worried at all. If you really want to make them show up in the next 4 days make sure they bill you for their time.”

WOUNDWORT: “Just letting you know, you chose to have it the hard way when all you could have done is acknowledge the plain and obvious fact that you breached the TA and apologise.”

BIGWIG: “If it is an issue, they will let me know. They know it’s in my room. Why fuss? When they contact me, I’ll correspond and apologise. Simples :)”

WOUNDWORT: “Yes you can do that, and if they don’t take it too seriously, you’ll be lucky. But that does nothing to negate your wrongful conduct in the first place. Also, the way you have handled this matter has shown everybody how hypocritical, recalcitrant and untrustworthy you are. If I do even wish to make a wish, I can only wish you the best of luck with your career and life, and your religion if that means anything to you.”

Sometimes being a judgmental internet blogger means you have take sides between detestable options, and in that spirit, I guess I’m slightly on the side of Bigwig. His mistake, that he douchily refuses to acknowledge, was minor. His solution (that he will remove the animal in a few days) is reasonable. Woundwort is willing to burn the whole warren down to get this one rabbit.

But honestly, I’d just like to sic the dogs on the whole lot of them.

You can read the full thread on the next page. I didn’t even get to all of the highlights….

(hidden for your protection)

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