Some people have problems that require delicate advice from a qualified professional. Others just need a random a guy on the internet to kick ’em in the teeth with their blunt honesty. I’m the latter. Welcome back to Tough Love.
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You have problems, I have advice. This advice isn't sugar-coated - in fact, it's sugar-free, and may even be a little bitter. Welcome to Tough Love.Read more
This week we have a homeowner who feels like their roommate’s boyfriend might owe them some rent because he stays there so often.
Note: I’m not a therapist or health professional of any kind. People ask for my advice and I give it to them. End of transaction. If you have a problem with it, feel free to file a formal complaint here. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get on with it.
I own a house and have two of my friends living with me as roommates. I give them good deals on rent since they don’t make a ton of money and I like helping my friends out (and not having to put up with complete strangers for roommates is a huge plus in my book).
Recently one of my roommates, let’s call her J, got a boyfriend and, while he’s a nice enough guy, he’s been staying over almost every night for a week or two and I’m starting to wonder if I should be charging rent – especially now that some mornings he is literally the only one left in the house once everyone has gone to work. The thing is, as mutual friends have pointed out, he isn’t (to my knowledge) eating our food, he generally stays in her room and isn’t really intruding in common spaces or anything, and, as far as I know, he isn’t showering at our place or anything.
On the other hand, I’m giving J a solid deal on rent and I don’t charge either of my roommates for the utilities. I guess ultimately I feel like she is taking advantage of the situation. On top of that it was my other roommate who complained to me about it first and to his credit, his girlfriend only stays over two or three times a week typically, which seems more reasonable to me. Am I just being overly sensitive or am I justified here? I’ve tried to broach the topic with J, but when I get asked why I care I don’t know how to answer, so I just drop it for the time being.
Hey Helpful Homeowner,
You need to be careful of being too nice to your tenants, er, I mean, friends. Giving friends a deal on rent to avoid living with strangers is one thing, but covering their utilities (why?) and letting them walk all over you is too much. You don’t want your friends, the people who are supposed to care about you and your feelings, taking advantage of you because you’re not willing to say no. If you feel like J’s boyfriend overstays his welcome, that’s it, that’s how you feel. You don’t need to give a presentation with charts and graphs explaining why it bothers you. “Why do you care?” J asks. Because you do.
It doesn’t matter if this guy isn’t eating your food, stays out of sight, and never showers there (doubtful). He’s there – using your shelter for days on end, absorbing the hot or cold air you pay for, wearing down the carpet, crapping and pissing in the toilet, shedding dead skin all over the place, and probably storing personal belongings there. He’s huddled out of sight, sure, but he’s basically nesting in your house for free. You know what else does that? Rats. They might only eat old, rotting garbage, stay hidden in the walls all the time, and never use your shower, but that doesn’t mean you want them around your personal space. What makes this worse is that neither J or this guy asked you how you felt about him staying over all the time, which is not cool. It’s extra not-cool that she gets defensive and questions your motive when you bring it up. Add that to the fact that your other roommate finds this behaviour annoying and there’s no doubt something needs to be done.
Now, it doesn’t sound like you gave your roommates many restrictions when they moved in, which is a big mistake, even if they’re friends (especially if they’re friends). Like it or not, you’re their landlord and occasionally have to act as such. Most residences have a policy regarding how long non-tenants can stay for consecutive nights, so that should be the first thing you try to implement. Tell everyone living there that guests can only stay for up to three nights at a time except for special cases, or something to that effect. If they ask why, tell them it’s your house and that’s the way it is and that they’re lucky you provide them with such an affordable living situation. If they don’t want to follow your very simple and ridiculously reasonable rules, they can live somewhere else where the rent costs more and they have to pay for their own utilities. Or, you can always ask J’s boyfriend to officially move in and pay rent. Hell, if you’re going to have a rat in your walls, you might as well get something out of it, right?
Overly sensitive, HH? You’re not being sensitive enough! Cut the super supportive friend crap and take care of business. I mean, you’re not asking for much here. J can either put up for a new place or shut up. This is your house – not theirs. Don’t forget that.
That’s it for this week. I probably didn’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but sometimes what you need is some tough love. ‘Til next time, figure things out for yourself.