How to deal with good person who is a bad roommate
February 21, 2008 9:55 AM Subscribe
I bought a house a few months ago, shortly thereafter asked a friend and former housemate to move in with me, and am now feeling almost constantly enraged by behaviors that didn't bother me so much when I didn't own the house we shared. In fairness to myself, I think some of the behaviors are genuinely unfortunate--but I need some advice on what are reasonable limitations and how to stop my own complete transformation into a raging, miserable Nazi.
My roommate leaves unwashed dishes around, and seldom lifts a broom or takes out the trash or recycling. She leaves a space heater on almost constantly so she can wear tank tops inside in the winter, and the utilities--which I made the mistake of including in her monthly rent--have doubled. She brought home a new boyfriend a week after she'd moved in, and he was over 3-4 nights a week until she dumped him two weeks later and the next day brought home a new one. I didn't much like the first boyfriend, and certainly wasn't happy with sharing a roof with him so frequently. When I bought a house, I wasn't planning on sharing it with random 20-something guys I'd never met, who my roommate has no qualms about leaving in the house when she goes off to work (the boyfriends have been unemployed). I know a renter needs to be comfortable having guests and it's none of my business whom she dates, but I feel uncomfortable in my own house. Buying it was of course a major investment and no small emotional and financial feat, and in exchange for all that I feel I should at least be able to enjoy some sense of sanctuary and control.
On the plus side, my roommate loves and tolerates my dogs (now three of them) and my boyfriend (who is over 3-5 nights a week) and is almost unfailingly relaxed and friendly. I never had a talk with her about my expectations and comforts before she moved in; when we lived in a group house before she wasn't a serial dater and seemed to keep things clean. Also, now that the house is my own I feel more protective of it and my own expectations have risen.
From looking at my finances I think I can also afford not to have a roommate; my boyfriend also plans to move in this fall at which point I'd like to have the house to ourselves. My problem is that since my roommate is a friend and I really like her as a person--she is 10 years younger than me but in many ways I really enjoy her personality and who she is--I can't bring myself to raise any difficult issues with her. Since she never says anything awkward or uncomfortable to me, I can't seem to ask her to use the space heater less, do her dishes, or take out the trash. Not to mention say anything about the ever-changing flux of arrogant young guys.
I know I am within my rights as the property owner to say all these things, and to have her move out whenever I choose as long as I give her ample notice--I am simply wondering what is the decent way to do it. Are my concerns at all reasonable? What's a good way to raise them with a decent, kind, if very lazy, friend and roommate? Should I tell her as soon as possible that I'll want her to move out by the fall, so she doesn't get used to the idea of staying there for years? Should I take the passive aggressive way out and make it so uncomfortable for her to be there that she leaves on her own volition? Yikes!