I have a difficult housemate who makes me stressed out and angry, has alienated my friends such that they don't want to come over to my house, and who my housemates and I asked to leave when the lease ends and the new lease begins. She refuses to leave. What happens now?
Though my roommate is no longer spending her time yelling at me and others, slamming doors, or glaring at my guests (mostly because I stopped having guests), I cannot feel at ease living with her. It is difficult to know whether saying hi to her will result in a death glare and a grunt, or a friendly response. We have had some polite conversations, but I am generally uncomfortable because it seems like if we have a pleasant exchange at one point, she acts out against me within a week. She has also alienated my roommates to various degrees and has also made it hard to find new roommates to replace our one (other, very nice) roommate who is moving out: no one in the communities we're part of wants to live with her, because she has repeatedly been rude and/or angry at them when they are visiting.
I value the following at home: calm, open discussion, the ability to have myself and friends feel welcome. These are shared values of the house as they were expressed to me when I moved in, but apparently not of this roommate (who moved in a few weeks after I did, last August). I've thought about moving out, have cried and felt very upset at points, and have developed a dislike of her that is stronger than any personal dislike I've ever experienced, that takes up much more energy and mental space than I anticipated. I freely admit that she sets me off more than most other people because of how I grew up (I really need to feel that the people around me are reliable and not unpredictably angry), but this is absolutely not a problem exclusively between us. She has been gentler in the past few months, though I've also been avoiding her so I can't tell if she's truly gentler or if I'm just not being the target. I don't think she's a bad person--for example, she is very kind and responsible to our dog, does her chores, and has outside friends--but I do think she's a bad roommate for this house.
Because of the yelling, tension, and frustration we've had living with her, we asked her to move out as of August, when the new lease begins. Today, we received a quite civil and polite email stating the following:
-This has not been an ideal living situation
-She has no intention of leaving as we requested. She intends to sign the new (year!!!) lease in August
-She doesn't know when/whether her work contract will be extended, but will know at the end of September. She is European. If her contract is not extended she will return to Europe; if it is extended then she will seek other housing in our area at some point (she gave a timeline that suggested that we would be living together for another 4 months)
-Roommates in our area cannot evict other roommates, and landlords can only evict with specific cause. She cited the local law to this effect. This appears to be correct (we live in Berkeley, CA).
I'm not sure what to do; it would frankly never occur to me to continue to live somewhere I was not wanted. I feel very uncomfortable with the idea of signing a new year lease with her, because I'm already baffled by her wanting to stay and don't know if she'll actually leave or will just stay forever. That is, if she signs the year lease I'm concerned that she'll stay for another year rather than leaving a few months in as she stated.
This is all complicated by the fact that I LOVE the other roommates, love the space, love the house and what it has meant to the community in the past, love our dog, love the location, love what it could be and what I hoped it would be as of August. And that Berkeley is a tight and expensive rental market and I'm a broke grad student and moving is challenging, to say the least. Were it not for this mysterious and challenging roommate, this would be a really ideal house for me. Additionally, my roommates really want me to stay and I don't want to abandon this community to feel weird and off like it has all year because someone is squatting (not literally, of course) and making things uncomfortable.
I feel both mystified and frustratingly impotent in the face of this woman invoking the law. I recognize that we are wired in very different ways, and I understand her basic point about not wanting to move on this timeline, but I just can't seem to predict what she'll actually do if she signs the lease. Sorry for all the processing in this question, I'm just kinda... I'm set off by her.
My questions are:
1) What am I supposed to do? Is there any credible and reasonably anticipatable way this works out where I get to stay in the house and she leaves? Do I just have to either move or accept that my house is going to be uncomfortable for the rest of my stay here? Though it's not my preference, I understand her point about not wanting to find a place for two months; it's just the upcoming new year lease and her implacable reliance on the law instead of social agreements that is making me think those two months might be more like twelve.
2) Is there any recourse for us as a house to get her to leave? Again, we're in Berkeley, CA. We don't really have documentation of her past yelling (some emails, etc., from last year, nothing recent), and I think being an uncomfortable rooommate is (understandably in general, though frustratingly in this case) not evictable. Our lease runs out at the end of July and the new lease begins August 1st. Are we obligated to let her sign the new lease?
I have asked questions
about this roommate before, and appreciate all the answers I got, which informed a lot of my thoughts about what to do and how to behave. I have basically stopped engaging with her beyond the level of "hello" (again, only when it doesn't look like she's going to be upset that I said hello) and occasional conversations about the dog. We have stopped having house meetings and hosting many community events because those things upset her. I know many respondents to my first question were not big fans of how my house was operating in terms of having meetings, talking about feelings, etc., but we're just co-opy hippies (even difficult roommate, kind of) and it's the style of communication and home that we have chosen.
I appreciate any thoughts you have. I'm not used to disliking people this much, especially those I live with, so I'm struggling to see this clearly.