I Broke My Lease and This is What Happened

When I finally moved out of my parents' house, I lived in a student rental in a residential area of my hometown. The lease was pretty simple: no loud parties, no parking without a permit, no overnight guest for more than three days at a time and absolutely no pets. 

A month later, my roommate told me that she wanted a kitten. 

Yeah right.

I told her that I wasn't really crazy about breaking the lease, especially when the landlord was a friend of my dad's. Her response was that she could register for an emotional support animal and voilà. Under emotional support animal laws, landlords are required by federal law under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to provide accommodations for emotional support animals. She seemed to know what she was talking about, so I went along with it. A few weeks later, a mutual friend told us about a litter of kittens that she had found under her porch and asked if we were interested. Convenient, right? 

Once the kittens were old enough to be adopted, we went over at the end of June. There were six kittens, two males, and four females. For some reason, I decided to pick up a little orange and white ball while I was waiting for my roommate to pick out a kitten for herself. 

That was when everything changed. 

My heart instantly melted. I didn't just want this kitten. I needed this kitten. This was going to be my kitten. This was my baby. My boy. I named him Ron, naturally, after Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter series. 

It was less than a week before my mom found out that we had snuck in not just one, but TWO kittens into the house.

She was furious. And she had every right to be angry. I had not only broken my lease but now I had two options: give the kitten back to the foster family or take the kitten to a shelter. I went with option three: keep the kitten. 

I ended up sitting down with my parents and having a lengthy discussion about what my roommate had told me about an emotional support animal. I explained what it was and how I thought I could benefit from having one, too. At the time, I had just finished my first semester as a college freshman and was still struggling to transition into the "real" world. Although I was living with one of my best friends and I had a lot of people in my life who cared about me, I still felt alone. It was hard to put into words, but when I finally found them they understood. They wanted what was best for me. My mom even went with me when I went to talk to my doctor about filling out paperwork for an emotional support animal.

Months passed. The friends that I once knew became strangers to me. The people I thought had cared so much suddenly seemed to disappear one by one. My roommate and I ended up drifting further and further apart until we ended up not speaking at all. Eventually, she moved out and I lived by myself for over a year. I felt even more isolated and alone than I had ever felt before. 

As it turns out, I was never really alone. 

With my mental health rapidly declining, Ron became not just my best friend, but my rock.  Taking care of Ron helped me to learn to take better care of myself. He made me get out of bed, even on my worst days, because I had to put food in his bowl or clean out his litter box. In a way, he took care of me, too. He was there for me from the moment I woke up in the morning and he would wait for me to come home from class. He let me smother him with kisses and hugs and would lay in bed with me on my bad days. For a long time, he felt like the only constant in my life. 

Looking back, I never would have thought I would have broken my lease. I'm not saying that you should; if you ever do break a lease you risk of being evicted which could have very real financial and legal consequences.

But was it worth it? Absolutely.