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It's not legal to murder my roommate... right?
March 26, 2012 9:23 PM   Subscribe

Another horrible roommate scenario. I live in a 5 BR house and we're all on separate leases. One of my housemates is particularly nasty towards me and it makes it hard for me to deal with being home. I'm moving out in 2 months and I'd like some tips on how to deal with this in the meantime.

One of my housemates makes my life intolerable when I see him (Mike). I combat this by avoiding him. I live in a 5 BR and we don't run into each other much. When home, I spend most of my time in my room, except when I'm cooking. Last night I opted to study at the dining room table because our newest roommate likes to blast music and the vibrations give me a headache. It doesn't carry downstairs, so I went down to study. Mike came in drunk at 12:30 and started talking to me. My general policy is to ignore him, so I gave one word answers. Plus I was actively studying at that point (which was his first question) so it wasn't unreasonable. I had successfully avoided speaking to him for the previous 2 months. The conversation last night really made me crazy and I had a really hard time falling asleep last night, felt like crap all day, and loss of appetite today (all of which is really unusual for me). I couldn't concentrate in class and felt grumpy all day. I feel stressed out writing this. I'm in school and that is the most important thing for me, and I can't have crap like this distracting me. I am moving out at the end of May, into a studio. I need to figure out how to deal with this so I stop getting so stressed by this guy. (If it matters, I live in Philadelphia.)

OK, so here's the tl;dr:

--When Mike first moved in, he came home blackout drunk from work (he got fired for this -- they had to call a cab for him and sent someone the next day to make sure he was still alive (I'm not kidding). That night, he locked himself out of him room and banged on his door for about 10 minutes (at 3am) until he broke it down. At the time, I was scared, didn't know what was happening, and locked my door. I heard one of the guys who lives here investigating and tried to go back to sleep.

--For the next 2 or 3 months, he spent most of his time laying on the couch in the living room, which made it impossible for me to watch TV. I generally just dealt with it, but on a couple occasions said there was something I really wanted to watch and asked if he would mind. He let me, but then came back to bug me when I watched for more than an hour, and was pretty rude about it. He stayed and watched the show I was watching, making comments about how bad it was and how stupid it was to watch a show that had since been cancelled... effectively ruining my TV experience and getting me to leave so he could have the TV back.

--When he first moved in, I was perfectly nice to him but quickly established that he wasn't someone I would ever be friends with because of his conversation. All he would talk about was "bragging" about experiences with girls and drinking. In practice, he's never had a girl (or friend) over and the one time I ran into him at a bar he was alone (chatting with the bartender). I assume most normal people have friends over at least once in 8 months. Anyway, it's just the way he talks, trying to make his life seem so awesome when it just seems like lies.

--He constantly complains about everything in the house. Seriously has nothing good to say.

--I share a bathroom with him and another guy. I do my best to clean my hair out of the drain when I shower, but I have really long hair and I guess I miss it sometimes. Mike's solution to this is to put any hair in the drain (seriously once it was maybe 10 strands, and lighter than my hair so it could have been his) on top of my stuff. He ruined one of my razors (luckily it wasn't a new one) and generally it's just disgusting. I just... don't think a normal person would even think of doing this, it's so childish.

--A few months ago, Mike came home drunk and was making a ton of noise at 2:30 am, on purpose. He slammed his bedroom door loud enough to wake up me and at least 2 others in the house. It sounded like something broke or crashed to the ground, and shook the whole house. Sean, who is also the landlord's son and the intermediary between tenants and the landlord (if it matters, Sean was co-landlord until December when he sold his share of the house to his dad), came downstairs and confronted Mike on this behavior. Mike was really rude to him, saying how Sean didn't have a right to talk to him until the leak in his bedroom was fixed, and other things I don't specifically remember. The way he was talking really pissed me off so I came out of my room and said "Mike, stop being an asshole, you woke me up too." His response was "that was for you, sweetheart" (referring to slamming his door, I believe). This was another night where I was so worked up that I couldn't sleep.
I got worried at this point about Mike being violent when drunk and possibly damaging my property. I spend a lot of nights at my boyfriends, so I worried that he would go in my room to trash my stuff. I texted Sean about this and got a key to my bedroom (hadn't considered it necessary before this). We talked about Mike at that point and he said he and his dad really hated him as a tenant but didn't have grounds for eviction, so they'd offered him a penalty-free out on his lease. (Because there was repair work in his room that needed to be done and hadn't been taken care of promptly. I personally think they didn't take care of it fast because they were trying to get him to move out, but I have nothing to confirm or deny this.)
Since then, I've avoided talking to Mike and have been uncomfortable in common areas because of him. I lock my door when I go out and keep it locked when I'm home. A few days after this incident, he apologized to me, but what he said was kind of absurd -- he said something about being sorry for bringing me into it, and that he was just mad at Sean. This didn't make sense because of what he'd said to me, and because in the first place nothing had happened to trigger his reaction.

--Last night, I was downstairs studying and he came home drunk at 12:30. Conversation pretty much as follows:
M: "What are you doing?"
me: "studying."
M: "you're studying this late? really?"
me: "yup."
M: Relates story of the day before when my bf came over and they were walking near each other and my bf came in the house with him. What I discerned from this based on what he said was that he was complaining either about my bf coming over, or the noise when my bf walks by his room. [Our house is old and sound carries inevitably.]
me: "uh-huh"
M: Asks about who cleaned the bathroom.
me: "I did the shower, the trash, and kind of wiped the floor."
M: something else about the bathroom.
me: "hm."
M: Asks why I'm not talking to him.
me: "I don't talk to you."
M: blah blah something.
me: non-commital response
M: Inquires further about my behavior.
me: Says something about him putting hair on my stuff.
M: "It's your hair. Explain to me how a Penn student doesn't get that it's her hair so it goes on her stuff. How did you get into Penn if you're not intelligent enough to realize that? It just makes so much sense."
me: Something about how no, it doesn't make sense, and people don't deal with things like that.
M: Continues to scathingly insult my intelligence.
me: "Mike, I don't talk to you. Stop talking to me."
M: Further insults.
me: Tells him he's harassing me and to stop.
M: Further insults.
me: Threatens to call the cops.
M: "What would you say? You don't have any grounds to call them. I live here."
me: "That doesn't mean you can talk to me. Stop talking to me." I told him if he didn't stop, I was going to call 911. I dialed it on my phone, showed him, and said "If you don't stop talking and walk away, I'm pressing send."
M: Insult, grumble, walks past me into the kitchen.


I was shaking by the end of this. I was worried he was going to get physical with me. I feel like he's one of those people who is so close to crossing the line, but never does, but could snap at any moment, and this scares me. I don't want to live with a person like that, but I don't have the option to move out now. I don't have the money, and I'm not going to let him influence my life by putting me in financial hardship. Generally I spend half my nights at my bf's and try to study in the library because I get more done there. But I want to be able to use the common areas in my house without fear. I think I can get by another 2 months without seeing or speaking to him, but I'm still rattled by this exchange.

FWIW, I usually get along with people and am friendly with all the other roommates. None of us hang out (we were all strangers before living here) but we all get along except for Mike. Generally when I have housemate issues, I do my best to be understanding and deal with it without confrontation. (Ex: newest roommate blasts music, I study downstairs. Someone leaves dishes in the sink, I put them in the dishwasher [well, except for recently because it's gotten really bad. But I did that for months].)

So, how do I deal with this? I don't want a confrontation, I don't want legal issues, I just want a calm home environment until I move.
posted by DoubleLune to Human Relations (41 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Could you temporarily 'move in' with your boyfriend?

It sounds like this asshat is not going to let up any time soon. With only two months left to go, trying to break the lease is going to be way more trouble than it's worth.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 9:27 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just move. Stay with your boyfriend, interspersed with maybe some house-sitting or pet-sitting gigs if he has roommates. Life is too short to be miserable about douchebags.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:31 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Caveat: My boyfriend lives in student housing where I have to sign in and out with him at the security desk, has a tiny room, there is no free street parking by his place (I need my car for work) and I have a pet that needs to be fed twice a week.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:36 PM on March 26, 2012


Since Mike's not taking the penalty-free "out" on the lease, why font you propose to the landlord that YOU leave early, penalty free. Tell him everything you've told us. He and his son sound like decent people.
posted by jayder at 9:40 PM on March 26, 2012 [17 favorites]


Get a house-sitting or pet-sitting gig. Stay out of the house entirely, or in your room when you're home. Don't leave anything you care about in the bathroom or common areas.

And saying "I don't talk to you, Mike" and remaining in the room with him is a really bad way of dealing with someone who likes messing with you. You can't logic his obnoxiousness away. AVOID!
posted by Scram at 9:40 PM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


why font

Why don't
posted by jayder at 9:40 PM on March 26, 2012


You're going to just have to suck it up. The guy is obviously deranged and there's nothing you can do or say to make him normal. Stay out as much as you can. When you have to be there, be in your room as much as you can. Talk to the roommate who blares the music-- if you can get him to chill on that you'll be able to study in your room instead of at the kitchen table.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:41 PM on March 26, 2012


He sounds like a dickhead, but it sounds like that dickheadedness has now resulted in you being quite rude to him (judging by your sample conversation), which is probably triggering his buffoonery to go to ever greater levels.

Here's a pointer, instead of saying "I don't talk to you", try something more like "I'm sorry Mike, I can't talk right now because I need to study."

It probably won't make any difference at this stage, as it sounds like you're both worked up by one another, so it'll probably be easier to get your music blasting flatmate to turn down the volume so you can go back to hanging out in your room again.
posted by The Monkey at 9:41 PM on March 26, 2012 [13 favorites]


My $0.02 -- targeted solely toward surviving the two months: When he comes home and enters the common space and becomes annoying, go to your room. Give up on having access to the common space when he is at home. It's only two months. But when he's not home enjoy. Re bathroom, just keep doing your best with your hair (and look twice, wipe out the hair), keep your razors and personal items in your own room and bring and take from the bathroom. (I'm not ensuring this will work! I am not your indemnifier (IANYI).)
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:47 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sounds like a toxic asshole. Your best options are crashing on a friend's couch until your new place is available, or just staying the hell away from the house as long and as often as you can. Do you have a lock on your door? Put all your things - literally everything that is yours, including cups, DVDs, forks, non-perishable food - in your room to keep them secure. Don't try and engage with him at all, on any level, just stay the hell away and give up the TV for a couple of months.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:58 PM on March 26, 2012


As far as your title goes, I'd suggest that this sort of person isn't worth doing jail time for killing. Hang out in your room instead, and look forward to that day in a couple of months when you'll no longer have to be around him at all. If possible, keep your pet in your room so this guy can't "accidentally" harm it.
posted by AMSBoethius at 10:00 PM on March 26, 2012


Count the days til you move out, do it early if you can.
Do not engage with him. If he tries to engage you in conversation say "I really can't talk right now" and continue what you are doing. If he won't leave you alone, leave the room.

If you've made a rule that you don't talk to him, and you've told him about it, then don't talk to him. If his pestering you makes you break your rule and discuss his disgusting hair thing or how he is an asshole, then he will think that your rules can be broken if he is just persistent or annoying enough.

But I would suggest phrasing it as "I can't", rather than "I don't", like The Monkey said. I don't think you need to give a reason why you can't, though.
posted by misfish at 10:02 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


What about having your bf move in with you for last two months as " protection"?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:20 PM on March 26, 2012


Look, next time he comes in drunk? Give him like five minutes of full-sentence conversation, where you look him in the eye and actively engage him. Like ask him what he did that night, who he saw, etc. Then say "Hey man, I really gotta keep studying though, this shit is killing me!" There will be a minute or two of mutual "Grumble grumble man school sucks!" and he'll likely leave you alone. When the guy comes in drunk like that, relatively early in the night, he's probably in Social Drunk Mode. Social Drunk Mode demands entertainment from other human beings. He sees you, and being as you guys aren't friends you give him two options: fight, or move on. When you react negatively ("I don't talk to you") Social Drunk Mode sees an opportunity for entertainment in the form of a fight and jumps on that. When you don't give him any openings, Social Drunk Mode demands he moves on to find other things to do.

He sounds like a immature frat boy type of guy. However, you sound pretty judgmental and high-strung. I am guessing you made it clear to him very early on that you did not like him. He probably has no idea why you dislike him, he figures you dislike him because you are are a jerk, so that makes him more antagonistic, which makes you even more snippy, hence he's even more dickish, hence escalation up to that conversation there.

Honestly the behavior with the coming home drunk and whatever is super-obnoxious but in no way proof he's going to be violent towards you. There is a certain type of buffoon guy who likes to bang shit around and make noise when he's drunk because he thinks it's hilarious, but has no interest in actually hurting anyone. It is no fun to have someone come home drunk and make noise, but to stay up all night shaking with rage as a result? On your part, that reaction is a little excessive.

Life often requires us to act politely and have conversations with people we dislike, and let their obnoxious behaviors roll off our backs. Especially if they're our roommates. The alternative is the situation you guys are finding yourself in right now. The only way you can live with roommates is if you realize you are not going to be able to live exactly as you want (like watching TV alone, whenever you want). It sounds like you realize that, since you're getting a studio, but to make the next two months a bit more tolerable I think you're going to have to just care a lot less about his bullshit instead of taking it as a deep offense.

Plus, the more you react to his bullshit, the more he's going to perpetuate it. Mike doesn't sound like a controlling bully, he sounds like the Jolly Obnoxious Frat Boy: great to drink with, awful to live with, will be mildly annoying to neutral if you're friendly with him, but if you get in an antagonistic relationship he'll react like a fifth grade boy. Right now he sees you as someone who dislikes him, and that bugs him, so he picks on you as a result. I bet if you stop reacting to his crap and act totally carefree and joking to him he'll tone it down.
posted by schroedinger at 10:25 PM on March 26, 2012 [23 favorites]


There's a difference between being non-confrontational and being a pushover. You can stand up for yourself without being nasty about it. Others have picked up on part of the trouble with this particular example, that you put yourself in a place where CrazyDouche could engage you and stayed there because you preferred to avoid confronting your newest housemate about the music. As someone who's spent far too much time putting the desires of others above his own, I suggest you reconsider that method of conflict resolution.

That said, you only have two months to go in your present hellish situation, and you could avoid avoid avoid in the short term. I like the suggestions to see if there's a way to cut that even shorter. Is there anywhere else you can go? Any friends who can help you out? Any way to get to the new place sooner? (Or is that a home/elsewhere summer thing?)
posted by cardioid at 10:30 PM on March 26, 2012


He sounds like a really bad roommate, but it also sounds like you need to respond to this by starting to act more like you really are on separate leases to everyone else--i.e., like you would in a dorm. Maybe you share common areas, but you can always watch TV by yourself instead, get a tote to bring your toiletries back to your room when you aren't using them, etc. You're moving into a studio; is it really going to kill you to hang out in your bedroom for awhile? Not that you *should* have to, but it sounds like it's just how things are going to be. You really *are* going to have a very hard time with this idea of calling the cops on your own roommate for talking to you when you haven't removed yourself from the situation. Yes, you should be able to hang out in the common area of the house unmolested, but for a couple months, get used to the idea of your room. It's temporary. And then you will have your own place and it will be heaven... and the studio will seem relatively spacious in comparison!

This was basically how I coped with a period of having to live with my obnoxious mother and stepdad. It was tolerable for awhile and now I am happy as a clam with a relatively small apartment that might have seem cramped if I'd been used to taking up the whole house.

(Just in general, as someone who used to do the long-hair thing, get one of the traps that goes over the drain, in your next place it may save you some calls to maintenance to snake the drains in the long run. Also very easy to clean up.)
posted by gracedissolved at 10:37 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I don't talk to you" and "if you keep talking to me I will call 911" are churlish ways of dealing with anybody, no matter how annoying you find them. Stop inflaming these interactions. I agree that you should just not be in the common areas when he's home. Buy a pair of earplugs so his noise won't wake you up. And focus on other things; this novel-length post suggests that you are allowing him to take up too much room in your head. Just suffer through the next 2 months and then move on.
posted by parrot_person at 10:42 PM on March 26, 2012 [14 favorites]


He definitely sounds like a bad roommate... but being purposefully antagonistic toward him is a really bad idea. Threatening to call the cops on your roommate for talking to you is really, really over the top, especially since you had the option of just leaving the room.

From here, it seems like your options are:

1) Barricade yourself in your room with the door locked for two months, only leaving when you are positive that he is not around,

or

2) Going about your business and actually ignoring this guy instead of doing what you've been doing, which is to tell him that you're ignoring him and then continuing to respond to him whenever he speaks to you.

or

3) Going about your business, and giving him a minute or two of your time when you're in a common area and he comes in and tries to talk to you. Imagine how shitty it can feel to try to talk to someone and have them treat you like you're not even worth the effort to be civil. That's what you're doing to him, and yes, he sounds like a jerk, but you're being just as big of a jerk right back to him. Why? All that does is escalate the situation. Being polite for a minute before calmly excusing yourself is just so much easier, honestly.
posted by palomar at 10:52 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


hated him as a tenant but didn't have grounds for eviction

That's BS. He's disturbed other tenants and residents including this Sean, and he's damaged property.

Still, eviction is an uncertain and expensive process, so many landlords choose an intermediate solution, such as

offered him a penalty-free out on his lease

which sounds like a dandy solution if he'd take it. Of course, problem tenants often have problems finding places to rent, so this doesn't always work.*

epair work in his room that needed to be done and hadn't been taken care of promptly. I personally think they didn't take care of it fast because they were trying to get him to move out

This is called constructive eviction and is often, though not universally, illegal.

Decent landlords don't do this, and decent landlords would prefer to keep the good tenants like you and get rid of the bad ones like this guy ASAP. So while they may try to sound accommodating they really aren't "decent", as that is sort of a deeds not words thing.

*In cases where a bad tenant isn't taking an early move-out offer, a practical landlording book I have suggests a radical solution: buying them out, i.e.., paying them to move out. Depending on the economics of the situation, this may be something that can be accomplished with as little as $100. If he has an "out" from the LL, you could even offer to help with this move-out vigorish. That way you get to not have to move and keep the roommates that you like. It's worth a try. Obviously, this is cash that is only available once he is effectively out and turns over the keys.
posted by dhartung at 11:54 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mike sounds strangely fixated on you. Whether it's because he "likes" you in that stupid fifth grade way of snapping your bra strap and loudly foisting his opinions on you when you obviously can't stand him or he just gets a kick out of pushing your buttons, is immaterial. You've made it clear that you want him to leave you alone and he's made it clear that he finds negative attention from you better than no attention at all. He will continue to be a pest and an asshole until you leave.

If you're serious about being afraid he may become violent towards you, move out ASAP. This isn't a situation to trifle with. Call your new landlord and try to make a deal to move in early, move in with a friend temporarily, rent a room short-term somewhere else if necessary; put your stuff in storage if you have to... nobody should have to walk around in fear in their own home. In the meantime, avoid him at all costs. And make sure someone else is with you if he's at home until you're officially moved out.

I also like Jayder's idea about bringing this problem to your landlord. Stress the fact that you feel unsafe and leave out the petty behaviors.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 12:06 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


It sounds like your rudeness is antagonizing him. Okay, the following advice isn't so helpful if he's truly threatening. But try being friendly. Say "Hi, Mike!" in a cheery voice when you see him. Talk about your day a bit, or ask about his. After chatting for a couple minutes you can say something like "Okay, I need to get back to studying. Talk to you later!"

Yeah, he'll still probably be a jerk, and will never be your new best friend. But things like telling him you don't talk to him, or saying you'll call the cops on him are seriously escalating the situation, and creates hostile living environment for him. Work on approaches to defuse things instead.
posted by 6550 at 1:16 AM on March 27, 2012


Or not on preview, what palomar said.
posted by 6550 at 1:17 AM on March 27, 2012


I had a roommate like this.

1. It's not worth it to use the common areas, because you feel physically unsafe when dealing with Mike. Go ask the other roommate to turn down the music.

2. Contact your future land-person and ask if you can move into your studio early.

3. Don't leave your shift in the bathroom, and be careful about your food in the kitchen. He's being REALLY weird about your things.

4. I know some people are being all, oh, be nicer to him. Don't. He's relying on you either engaging with him with niceness (so he can be a douche, like with your TV show) or with rudeness (so he can escalate). Just do whatever you can to not be around him, and consciously work towards moving up your move out date.

4a. Don't tell him you're moving out, because he might escalate.
posted by spunweb at 1:20 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


We talked about Mike at that point and he said he and his dad really hated him as a tenant but didn't have grounds for eviction, so they'd offered him a penalty-free out on his lease. (Because there was repair work in his room that needed to be done and hadn't been taken care of promptly. I personally think they didn't take care of it fast because they were trying to get him to move out, but I have nothing to confirm or deny this.)

This is the bit I dont fully understand - Basically, from this....

a) your landlords and caretakers can't evict a tenant based on harassing behaviour from one tenant to another (duty of care negligence)?

b) your landlord(s) are not fixing repairs promptly (lease contract negligence)

Your landlord/caretaker are fully response here to take action. You feel threatened based on a substantial list of experiences, when you discuss with landlord/caretaker they give you above excuse. Surely you can a) leave earlier (break lease) without penalty based on a) landlord not following the legal rental procedure for harassment between co-tenants and b) not fixing repairs promptly. In my country landlords can break lease without 'giving reason' so long as they provide the legal notice time. And if I were you I'd be inclined to argue not paying full remainder of rent based on the poor property caretaking excuse and the general living conditions i.e. feeling threatened.

If you cant get a house-sitting gig and decide to stay the next 8 weeks for external factors, I agree with spunweb and point 2 or 3 of palomar - Basically take care of yourself and your property in the coming 8 weeks, you have to because it seems your landlord/caretaker is incapable to provide a safe environment.

My tip - get some killer 'noise-reduction' earphones and awesome songs on your ipod and when your in 'communal' spaces just throw those on and forget your surrounds.
posted by Under the Sea at 1:48 AM on March 27, 2012


There is absolutely nothing she has written that indicates this guy has a crush on her, is going to stalk her, interfere with her moving, will try to poison her, or is messing with her things aside from the stupid hair behavior. And really, OP doesn't need any encouragement in imagining her roommate as a Horrible Roommate From Hell out to beat and punish her.

If putting her hair on her toothbrush or razor counts as being a stalker and equates to rifling through underwear drawers or God-knows-what, then you are going to have to send a whole bunch of elementary and middle school kids to therapy because that is just the kind of shit they try to pull. They guy is doing the bathroom equivalent of leaving someone's dirty dishes on their bed. He is being a baby and this "I'm going to call 911 because you're talking to me" business is just as immature.

cardioid is making a really good point about your passivity, by the way. Instead of asking a roommate to turn down the music you move to a different room and pat yourself on the back for not being confrontational. When other people don't do their dishes, you keep doing them until you get completely fed up. Successful roommate living is knowing when to assert boundaries and when to let things go. You are not doing this well--in your head you think it is too confrontational to ask your roommate to turn down the music at 12:30am, but it's not too confrontational to threaten Mike that you'll call the police if he doesn't stop talking to you after five minutes of conversation?

Your approach suggests that rather than nipping behaviors at the bud when you can be polite and adult about it, you let negative behaviors continue, build up a great deal of resentment, and then obsess over it and work yourself up into visualizing the offender as someone so horrible and intractable any non-antagonistic interactions are impossible.

This is not just a poor way to treat other people, it's a poor way to treat yourself. If you let interactions get this bad then you end up losing sleep and your appetite and being grumpy all day like you describe. You really gotta find a better way of dealing with this.
posted by schroedinger at 1:55 AM on March 27, 2012 [20 favorites]


schroedinger: "There is absolutely nothing she has written that indicates this guy has a crush on her, is going to stalk her, interfere with her moving, will try to poison her, or is messing with her things aside from the stupid hair behavior..."

Except for the fact that he's a raging alcoholic with a questionable view on personal boundaries and just plain scares the shit out of her. I'm not trying to pick apart what you're saying, schroedinger; you make some very good points, but that advice can only come into play if she were dealing with a rational person. From what the OP describes, it sounds like Mike's life is spiraling out of control and she's very afraid to be around him. Hell, even her landlords and other male roommates seem afraid to confront him. The OP is under no obligation to justify her fear to anyone; it's real and it's impacting her life in a negative way. She should remove herself from the situation and not wait around trying to ingratiate herself to the guy just to see if he straightens up, or worse, something dire happens later.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 2:12 AM on March 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


dhartung's right; it's appalling that the landlords are doing nothing about this guy while allowing you to leave instead. Have you made it clear to them you now feel unsafe? Do that right away, even though they seem stupidly nonhelpful here. I also think it's just fine to say to someone "I'd prefer we continue to avoid one another; I don't enjoy our interactions. Thanks" after the amount and kind of obnoxious behavior described here. Then just leave the room every time he talks to you. Every time. Don't engage.

Is your new studio available now? If so, I'd tell the landlords very clearly, in writing, sent via return receipt mail, that you feel unsafe and need to move out immediately, and would like to take them up on the "no penalty" offer you gave to Mike, as the situation is untenable and you're actually feeling harassed in your own home and are considering calling the police.

If not, then I'd think about calling a local campus women's group and asking them if they have any suggestions for ways to deal with feeling unsafe around a drunk, obnoxious, violent housemate.
posted by mediareport at 4:34 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, start documenting all the shit he pulls; the insults, following you, etc. Write it down, with date and time (though not when he's watching, probably). Just have a written record of the bizarre, threatening behavior; it may come in handy if he starts escalating as your move-out date gets closer.
posted by mediareport at 4:45 AM on March 27, 2012


You need to take the following into serious:

- He's a guy
- Drunk alcoholic
- angry guy
- verbally violent
- crosses a new boundry each time
- doesn't *like* you

- And, you have no immediate protection

If you were married to him, everyone here would tell you *leave the premises, now.*
posted by Kruger5 at 5:01 AM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


really bad advice in this thread. this is a black-out drunk with a demonstrated propensity for violence. if anyone is being constructively evicted, it's the poster. she can't use the property she's paying to rent. i'm sorry, but it's not her fault for not knowing the exact best way to deal with this asshole. i'd get out asap and in the meantime seek help from family, inform the university what has been happening, women's groups, campus police, tell the landlord immediately, etc.. this is a dangerous situation. the little s.o.b. drunk is lucky i'm not related to the op, he would come home to find his shit on the street, and he'd get a nasty asskicking to go with it.
posted by facetious at 5:08 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Talk to that new roommate about lowering the volume, or using headphones late at night. Let him know that you'd greatly appreciate this favor, tell him why you're avoiding the common area, and tell him it's just for a few months until you move out.

People are more willing to do something as a favor and kindness than a demand/obligation.
posted by lizbunny at 5:58 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


You could also ask your landlord if your boyfriend could move in for a month. Explain the situation and that your boyfriend actually has a place of his own (some landlords have stipulations around others spending multiple nights depending on if the significant other actually has a place of their own, so you'll want to check).

Pending that, maybe that place you're moving into in May is available now, eh? Or maybe the owner of that property has another place for you to rent for a month?

Your experience sucks, I'm sorry, but sadly that is what happens with roommates, sometimes you get some that you really love and sometimes you don't. Sometimes it can even ruin friendships.

It might be that if you complain to the landlord that you'll learn that if you file some sort of complaint with the police that will give him grounds to evict the other guy.

good luck!
posted by zombieApoc at 6:04 AM on March 27, 2012


Assuming you cannot leave early have your boyfriend spend more nights with you, or complain effectively to the landlord, all preferable options, you should:

-keep your stuff in your locked room. This is inconvenient for bathroom stuff, but less annoying than hair on your stuff.
-not antagonise Mike. Yes, he's an asshole, but don't make it worse. Don't get involved in his fights with other people. Don't say "I don't talk to you", say "I'm busy right now".
-speak to your other roommate about noise carrying.
posted by jeather at 6:21 AM on March 27, 2012


Just get all your roommates in the same room and talk it out. It's not like you're the only one who has a problem with him. He has to realise that you hate his guts and he has to have you say it in a public forum so he can't ignore it.

The reality is, the only way this is going to work for the next 8 weeks is if he agrees to ignore you as much as you ignore him.

It'll be awkward as hell, but it's only a little while so you can handle it.
posted by rudhraigh at 6:22 AM on March 27, 2012


Reading this, I feel more like the OP is being out of line than the roommate is. None of these examples strike me as particularly horrendous, but your reactions to them sure are over the top. Sometimes you don't like people. Especially when you live with them. The roommate sounds like an attention seeking asshole. But your behavior (threatening to call the cops when he speaks to you, making a blanket statement like "i don't talk to you") is just as out of line, immature, and ridiculous. You can't just avoid people that you don't like in the real world. Eventually, you will have a co-worker or boss who makes you feel the exact same way, and college is a great time for gaining the skills to deal with these people.

This is college. Getting black out drunk doesn't make him a threat to women or society or someone who is destined to be a misanthrope and alcoholic.

Calm down, be rational, and remember that he's just a person. You don't really have to take any actions, since you've already put steps into place for leaving a situation that makes you unhappy. That's good. But while you're there, try really hard to put things into perspective and stop being petty and childish. Even if that doesn't change his behavior, you can feel better about yourself knowing that you didn't play to his level.
posted by sarahnicolesays at 6:41 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's interesting seeing the different points of view here. Thinking about the situation has given me a bit better perspective on it. Yes, I do think he is potentially dangerous, but I think he's too scared of consequences to actually do something harmful.. I have tried my share of being nice and polite to him in the past, and it wasn't effective since his behavior is triggered rather than consistent. (I actually got along with him fine the first month, despite feeling like he wasn't someone I would converse with if I didn't live with him.) I do feel like I'm reacting rather heavily to his behavior, and this could be contributed to the intense amount of stress I'm already under in other areas of my life. Home is supposed to feel safe to me, and it's probably a combination of stress, hormones, and not having a stress-free home environment to de-stress in that is leaving me wound up past my breaking point.

Anyhow, specifically in regards to Mike, it seems like his extreme behavior that I feel threatened by is triggered when he's drunk. I actually already rarely spend time alone in common areas -- usually my boyfriend is with me, and Mike ignores me when I'm not alone. I think he sees me as an easy target when I'm alone. (FWIW, the other girl in the house is Sean's gf and she's been much more consistently rude to Mike and ignores him, but he's never acted out towards her -- probably because she's protected by Sean's presence). So the easy solution here is to excuse myself if I find myself alone in his presence and not do anything that would trigger his behavior. I feel like suddenly moving all my stuff into my room would trigger his behavior (he was triggered when Sean did this a couple months ago).

This is college. Getting black out drunk doesn't make him a threat to women or society or someone who is destined to be a misanthrope and alcoholic.
Yeah... this isn't college. I live off-campus and Mike is mid-30s and has trouble holding down a job (4th one since living here, with 2 or 3 months of unemployment thrown in there). He quit his first, got fired for the next because of being blackout drunk, and fired from the third for his behavior with other employees and customers in the workplace. He's had many, many roommates and told me he's only once had a living situation he was happy in. I am mid-20s and spent several years in the workplace with multiple roommate situations in which we were much more on each other's toes than in this house, so I've run into all sorts of people.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:16 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and to clarify -- the roommate with the music turned it on at like 9, I just stayed downstairs after I got there because I am terrible at getting homework done in my room. I haven't made the effort to get to know him, and I feel rude demanding he turn down his music when I haven't done more than say "hi" to him yet. Plus our house carries noise badly, so it's much better for my nerves to ignore the noise than complain about it.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:19 AM on March 27, 2012


It really sounds like you need to just talk to your flatmates all together, all at the same time.

Get everyone together, have a household conversation, cook a dinner, something.

The alternative is just staying in your room or moving out.
posted by rudhraigh at 10:12 AM on March 27, 2012



Just get all your roommates in the same room and talk it out. It's not like you're the only one who has a problem with him. He has to realise that you hate his guts and he has to have you say it in a public forum so he can't ignore it.


... and on preview what rudhraigh said as well.


I lived in a Halfway House for people recovering from substance abuse for over a year. 8 guys of varying sobriety living together in a 3 bedroom house. I have seen my fair share of passive aggressive behavior, downright rudeness, and near violence several times. The ONLY thing that works under the conditions where you have multiple "tenants" living in a single residence who may or may not know, care about, or have respect for the other tenants or the living space itself, is to hold each other accountable. I would highly recommend a house meeting, I'm surprised the landlord has not attempted one considering the toxicity of the situation. He does not want all the other good tenants to leave or not renew because of one person's behavior. It may help to get the assistance of the landlord, because calling a house meeting requires some authority to enforce, even if there isn't much recourse to back it up. Set a time within 2 weeks, and use the opportunity to clear up any issues in the house, including Mike, so it doesn't look like he's being singled out, although he will probably know the meeting is because of him.

I would also strongly suggest that your landlord get a Hotel License as well. If the laws are at all similar, in Florida with a Hotel License, the rider you sign to your lease agreement supercedes rental laws and you can be evicted for "rules violations" in addition to the standard non-payment.

Hang on, just know that this period of your life will be behind you shortly. Hopefully for good. Try to present a unified front from you and the other tenants about Mike in the meantime, but try to understand that he is probably sick, lonely and miserable... Keep your distance from him, but don't let his pain he chooses to display as anger affect your own emotions so that you escalate the situation.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:25 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I haven't made the effort to get to know him, and I feel rude demanding he turn down his music when I haven't done more than say "hi" to him yet.

Sounds like you have the common problem of having trouble making requests (note: not "demands") out of a fear of confrontation. I dunno, friendly assertiveness might be something to work on in general. But even with a roommate you don't know, a simple, "Hey, how's it going? Listen, I'm studying and don't really want to head downstairs where I might have to deal with Mike, you know? Would you mind turning the music down just a bit? Thanks! I'll be glad to do you a favor sometime in return" shouldn't be difficult to say.
posted by mediareport at 10:27 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Re: the new roommate's music - it doesn't hurt to ask nicely, and your own noise-canceling headphones will do the rest if he brings it down to a dull roar.
posted by lizbunny at 2:32 PM on March 27, 2012


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