A question about friendship and subletting, with loads
of little snowflake details inside. In short: what is the honorable thing to do when a friend decides to move abroad and sublet their part of a small two-bedroom apartment?
posted by matkline to Human Relations (16 answers total)
Sorry in advance for the absurd length.
In August or July of last year I moved into a dilapidated house in a not so good area of town. Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of things I liked about this house: good location, ok roommates, lots of space, a place for a garden, etc. Around a month after I moved in, another roommate was introduced to the house. Lets call him "Jim." Jim had been planning on living with his girlfriend in a mid-sized, bland city (at least everyone here, including Jim, thinks so) a few hours away. But after coming back from vacation, Jim found to his surprise that his girlfriend had made other plans. Jim had spent thousands of dollars furnishing the apartment that they were to move into together, but within a few minutes of coming back from vacation found himself dumped and without a place to live. The irony here will later become apparent.
He moved back to the town in which the college he recently graduated from is located. There, he lived on the couch of some old friends for a while. Getting tired of this, he decided to move into a jail-cell sized bike closet in our house. Jim and I became fast friends. The best of friends, really. Months passed, and Jim and I became more and more discontented with our housing situation. We both intended to find new places to live for the next year, and around February Jim asked me if I wanted to share an apartment with him. I enthusiastically agreed. We found a modest sized, reasonably priced apartment not far from the heart of town. An excellent find, really. We were scheduled to move-in in early June.
For months, we made a frequent habit of fantasizing about our lives once we had moved out of the dilapidated house we were living in, and into our new apartment. The kitchen at our old house was utterly decrepit, and exuded an unwholesome odor. Jim and I both love cooking, so this was really a horrible thing for us. Jim was single handedly doing a lot of the cleaning in the house, while also working two jobs: one as a bartender at a nightclub, the other as a waiter at an upscale restaurant. I, on the other hand, was teaching weekends and pursuing an academic career during the week.
Jim wasn't happy with his job at the nightclub. Although the money was quite good, the patrons were obnoxious and rude. After he had fully paid down a loan he took out in order to buy a car, Jim quit this job, leaving him only with his waiting job. A little later, I began attending summer school classes. A week or two before we move into our new apartment, Jim tells me that he's seriously considering moving to California. He's unhappy with his job in our town, and feels his life is generally stagnating. He has family there, and has lived there before. I'm obviously upset, however, I'm also understanding. We haven't moved in yet, so it will be easy enough to forfeit the security deposit/contract, and I'd have some time to find a new place before the school year.
Jim ends up deciding to stay. We move in, which is fairly easy for Jim, given that he hasn't had much room to acquire stuff, but substantially more difficult for me. In fact, I still haven't moved some things from my room at our old house, because I paid my rent through June, having been unable to find a subletter for the brief period until our lease expired there.
Now, three weeks after we've moved in, Jim has decided again that he's unhappy with his lot in life, his job, etc., etc. He's decided to move to Mexico in order to get TEFL certification and teach there until January. He wants to sublet his room for the duration. At first, I accepted this decision without much hesitation. But now, upon consulting with other friends and family members, I've started to realize what a hassle this will be for me. Not to mention the fact that I believe a lot of people in my town are infected with what I'll call "grass is greener" syndrome - constantly leaving our town, which is consistently rated as one of the best places to live in the US, and moving to other places, where they end up realizing that the common factor in their unhappiness was not the town, but themselves.
Our apartment is really just too small to live in with someone you don't know or have recently met in. Furthermore, I lead an "alternative lifestyle" which a fair number of people are not OK with, including: alternative sexual practices, waking hours, political beliefs, and the like. So, it seems that I may have to also sublet my room, or potentially just break our lease and forfeit the deposit. I wouldn't particularly have minded finding a single room apartment to start with, so to re-iterate, I feel slighted.
Me potentially breaking the lease is made easier by the fact that we haven't technically signed a contract with our new landlord, who bought the building before we moved in and inherited our contract from the management company that was formerly running it. I'd be interested to hear MeFi's advice here (I know, I know YANAL).
I'd like too to hear what I should do going forward as regards Jim's culpability in this matter: What are the things he should be doing? Me?
As an aside, I told Jim that he should no longer consider himself my friend. I think the way that he has played with his commitments (and I might add, not been particularly apologetic while doing so) is unacceptable. Given that he was willing to indefinitely live in a city he hated with a girl who ended up dumping him, I don't think it's unreasonable for him to live a year with someone who has been consistently pleasant and forthright in a town which is by all accounts a decent place to live.