How do I deal with my roommate?
October 26, 2008 2:21 PM   Subscribe

My roommate wants a friend to live at our place while he gets his life together... should I be cool with this?

I recently graduated from grad school, and a bunch of classmates moved out west together to start our careers. A classmate I was close with and I decided to move in together. (just to put it out there, I'm a guy and she's a girl, and there is no romantic relationship). From about a week into moving in and continuing (going on 4 months now)

I find her to be quite annoying most of the time. Difficult to communicate with, because she has to challenge everything that I say, with no substance behind her argument whatsoever. Not very good about her responsibilites maintaing our apartment. And there are a few pet peeves that she does that are really quite trivial.

Apparently, a friend of hers, a guy FWIW - not a romantic relationship, wants a "change of scenery" i suppose. He wants to stay at our apartment for an indefinite amount of time while he gets his situation together. No job, no money, not even sure if he has a car. The plan is to crash in the living room for however long he is here.

I'm not crazy about having a stranger in my home for that long. I have tens of thousdands of dollars worth of studio equipment in my room, and I don't trust anyone I don't know to be in my home alone. Also, I have been unemployed, for 8 weeks, and I know from experience, jobs in this current economy are hard to come by right now. With no plan in place, I also feel he'll be a drain on resources, and doesnt seem to have a way to contribute at all.

I feel if he had a plan... did apartment searching from wherever he is now, saved up some money for a security deposit and a couple months rent, and was lining up job prospects, so living here was more like a stop over while he's handling his business is reasonable, and I don't think I'd have any objection. As it stands now however, it seems like he's wants to freeload. How should I appraoch this convo with my roommate? Or what would you all do in this situation?
posted by FireStyle to Human Relations (38 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think you know your answer, and are looking for affirmation. Say "no". There is no reason to drain your already tight funds on someone you don't know. I think it's inconsiderate of your roommate to have even mentioned this as a possibility before consulting you. I'd say "hey, roomie. We need to talk." Calmly tell her why this is a problem, in your eyes. Avoid accusing, yelling, etc., as this will make her not want to HEAR you! Mention that he should have a plan, and then you *might* be okay with it.

It is a tough job market out there. Take care of yourself. FWIW, your intuition is usually right. We all would be better off if we listened to our gut instinct more often.
posted by 6:1 at 2:29 PM on October 26, 2008

You're annoyance with your roommate doesn't have anything to do with it. The only way I would consider this would be if he had both an end date and a plan.
posted by Airhen at 2:34 PM on October 26, 2008

Your annoyance, rather.
posted by Airhen at 2:34 PM on October 26, 2008

(1) Check your lease. Its likely that it has some clause regarding maximum time for guests who are not on the lease. This is your backup.

(2) Determine a maximum length of time that you are willing to let him stay, then subtract a few days from that (e.g., you are comfortable with 2 weeks; subtracting four makes ten days). Begin negotiating from the lower number (ten days), but be prepared to allow the higher number (2 weeks), so that you appear flexible and magnanimous.

(3) Be firm. Remember that you live there too, and that you signed up to live with your roommate only, and not a third person. Remember also that it is not in any way unreasonable to place a time limit on guests, and to expect free use of the living room that you pay for.

(4) Don't get into whether or not he has "a plan." The important thing is establishing a clear limit on the time he stays there, and sticking to it. Whether or not he has a plan is irrelevant.
posted by googly at 2:34 PM on October 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

"This doesn't work for me. I'm just not comfortable with that arrangement at all."

"I'm not comfortable with it because

A.) I don't know the guy at all and I'm not comfortable sharing my space and access to expensive equipment with someone I don't know.

B.) He doesn't appear to have any job or any plans to get a job in the foreseeable future.

C.) This compromises my privacy."
posted by jason's_planet at 2:36 PM on October 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

I find her to be quite annoying most of the time. Difficult to communicate with, because she has to challenge everything that I say, with no substance behind her argument whatsoever. Not very good about her responsibilites maintaing our apartment. And there are a few pet peeves that she does that are really quite trivial.

Stop. You're already disappointed in your living arrangement with this "friend" of yours...

You already have preconceived notions about this guy, so unless he has a stellar plan of action, a set date for which he'll be out, and some sort of way for compensating you for the room and board, you're only going to be pissed off the entire time he is there.

Basically you have two options:

1.) Say no. No, he can't stay. No, it's not cool. If he is a friend visiting for a few days, that's one thing - a free loader who is couch surfing for an indefinite amount of time is another. You have very real concerns about your property and about your own job search. Is this guy going to be playing XBOX during the day while you're home emailing your resume and doing phone interviews? You get the idea...

2.) Say yes, but tell your roommate that having this guy around is only going to stress an already fragile arrangement. And that there is a very real chance that unless she and her friend tread lightly that you're entire living arrangement may fall apart - in other words you may decide to move out once you get back on your feet.

There is something to be said about helping out a friend-of-a-friend in need. Who knows? Maybe someday you'll find yourself in need of a similar favor. That said, the best, most diplomatic way is to stress the need for a plan for this guy. A set-in-stone date for him to be out. And the guy either needs to pay his way, or your roommate needs to compensate you for his stay. The generous thing for her to do would be to pro-rate the rent and pay 2/3rds for however long he is there... that requires some math though... All of this MUST be done and agreed to BEFORE the guy get's the green light to come over...

Good luck.
posted by wfrgms at 2:37 PM on October 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

I wonder if your roommate is looking for an ally, someone who'll back up her bullshit arguments.
posted by jason's_planet at 2:37 PM on October 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Instead of focusing on the lsck of money, job, and car, why not focus on the time? "Yeah, roomie, I don't mind if your pal comes out for a week, but any longer than that is too much. We're already pretty cramped in here / losing the living room area to become someone's bedroom is a pain." If he wants/needs to stay for longer than a week, demand rent/utilities. You could also ask that he stays in roommate's bedroom.

Then you're being polite but still keeping things fair. Who knows - maybe you'll have a pal want to visit and may regret not opening yourself up.

As for your equipment, can you lock the door?
posted by k8t at 2:37 PM on October 26, 2008

No. It's bad for you and quite possibly bad for him, too, because with no parameters (like rent to pay or time limits) he may end up stagnating--no matter what he thinks or says or imagines will happen.
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:41 PM on October 26, 2008

If, for some reason, you decide to allow this, remember that if either of you ever accept rent from him, then you may not be able to get him out without going through the eviction process.
posted by grouse at 2:46 PM on October 26, 2008

I was in a similar situation at my first apartment. Roommate #1 wanted his girlfriend to temporarily move in with us while she was getting some stuff settled. Roommate #2 and I absolutely hated her but we didn't want to fully say no so we agreed that she could stay with us for one week and she could only be in the apartment when roommate #1 was around.

IF you agree to this, you need to set FIRM ground rules, especially a time table, and stick with them. Honestly....if your roommate is already getting on your nerves, this situation will probably make things much worse for you.

Consider this: If she really argues with you about every little thing, what's going to happen when the deadline is up and he's still living with you? If you really don't want to deal with that, just say no.
posted by Diskeater at 2:50 PM on October 26, 2008

Once you let him in, he's never going to leave. He'll never have enough money and you'll be forever the bad guy for suggesting he becomes homeless. He'll sweat into your couch and stay up late and sleep in till 2pm. He'll get sick of tidying the couch and will just leave his shit all over the living room and will snarl at anyone who suggests he stays tidy. No. One thousand times no. (Voice of experience here).
posted by b33j at 2:50 PM on October 26, 2008 [6 favorites]

Say no or else you're going to be back on AskMe in 2 weeks, a month, or 6 months saying, "This guy moved in to my living room and refuses to leave. What can I do?"
posted by MsMolly at 2:57 PM on October 26, 2008 [5 favorites]

Say no. Don't say 'yes, but only for x days', because x days will come and go and he won't have a job or another place to go, and you'll be guilted into letting him stay longer and longer, etc -- he'll have keys, you'll be in trouble. You won't have access to the living room, you're going to be irritated all the time -- especially since you already are sort of annoyed about your living situation.

If you must, use the lease as backup -- but just say no. Don't give long, elaborate explanations: if you have a reason, she will find an excuse why it's not actually a problem.
posted by jeather at 2:57 PM on October 26, 2008

Point of clarification please: Has your roommate asked if he could stay or told you he was coming to stay? Your post doesn't say and there's different ways of handling each situation.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:00 PM on October 26, 2008

she did ask about it... more like brought it up in conversationl, and then following up with hypothetical questions. I basically indicated I'd give it some thought, and I will bring up the conversation again.
posted by FireStyle at 3:06 PM on October 26, 2008

This has a lot of potential to make a bad situation worse. Say no.
posted by amethysts at 3:08 PM on October 26, 2008

No - just say no.

Had agreed to let roommate stay for a few months until he had sorted his life out and had his girlfriend practically move in after I agreed she could stay over occasionally - until I threw them both out. This didn't happen until they failed to contribute either financially or in terms of keeping the place nice and ran up stupid bills being home all day with numerous electical items on all day and the heating on full blast...never again.

And no, you don't want to have anybody living in your living room because you will resent never being able to use it - they will want to sleep whenever you want to sit down on your sofa and you won't get to use the room again (and feel comfortable using it) until they have moved out...
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:09 PM on October 26, 2008

Oh god.

This happened to me and we didn't have to balls to stand up and say no. The agreement was he was to pay for his "share" of the internet for his stay.

I had a lock on my bedroom door, and a back door and windows on the back wall (main floor or a building). One day, I came home to find this dude's hat in my bedroom. Really out of place, since I'd only talked to him in the shared living space and both my doors were still locked. I had had the windows ever so slightly ajar, and he had managed to squeeze through 4in-or-so wide space when no one was home and he couldn't come through the front door.

Nothing was actually missing that I know of, but it really, really creeped me out. It was a sunny summer day- no need to get that desperate and then conceal it by relocking my bedroom door. If his hat hadn't been unintentionally pulled off his head, I would never have known.

He never did pay for the internet share, and ended up living like a slob in our living room for way too long (not that my roommates were much better, but at least they had their own personal spaces and paid rent!). He also made some long distance calls he never paid for. I moved out before he did.

It really sucks to come home and have to share a space with someone who doesn't actually have responsibilities there. You just end up with a pile of dishes that 'no one' left and a higher hot-water bill at the end of the month. That and an extra 'mood' to have around the house. Look at it this way- You see him as a guest in your house, and chances are he'll feel like it's home, sweet home. Residents behave a lot worse than guests, I can tell you that much.

I mean, you could luck out, and this guy's a total saint who will clean your house daily acts politely, makes you dinner sometimes AND lends you money when you're broke, but I wouldn't count on in.

If you do let him stay- set lots of really clear boundaries. X days. Y contribution to chores and Z attitude.
posted by sunshinesky at 3:11 PM on October 26, 2008


Family or good friend crashing on the couch for a couple of nights here and there, because of a rough patch during a relationship, or just a temporary arrangement while you wait for another place to come through? Sure, have at it. You can check your email on my computer, no sweat. As payment you do the dishes. Here's the other rules.

But a total stranger requesting a stay of undetermined length, with no plan, no course of action? Fuck naw.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:15 PM on October 26, 2008

Another situation I've been in, akin to koahiatamadl's: roommates who let girfriends stay over indefinitely

That shit made me put holes in the wall. Yes, more than one. Resentment is great cause for irrational anger.

And have you thought about the fact that this dude's loser friends could potentially come visit? A whole other can of worms there...
posted by sunshinesky at 3:17 PM on October 26, 2008

she did ask about it... more like brought it up in conversationl, and then following up with hypothetical questions.

Just outta curiosity, what were these hypothetical questions?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:20 PM on October 26, 2008

It's not about an end-date and a plan. Your roommate has no right to bring a stranger into your house. I'd simply say to him that if he wants someone else sharing your space and facilities and running up your utilities bill then that person has to pay 1/3 of the rent and utilities and be accepted onto the lease first.

Failing that say flat-out "no". She's got no right to do that to you and if she doesn't like it she can move out and get her own damn apartment.
posted by MaxK at 3:33 PM on October 26, 2008

thanks for the responses. Hypothetical questions include,

"in the event someone were to stay over, how long would be too long"


"I have a friend who may need help in a situation..."

never directly asking "Firestlye, do you mind if my friend stays over?"
posted by FireStyle at 3:36 PM on October 26, 2008

Yeah, she's digging to see how far she can push you. More than likely, she and he have already made plans about when he's coming, it's just a matter of "setting you up" so you'll go along with minimum fuss. It's possible that they are sleeping together or she has a crush on him. Either way, she's bringing him in to replace you either via paying rent (doubtful) or just for company.

Put your foot down NOW, otherwise you life will be a slow burning hell.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:44 PM on October 26, 2008

No. Jesus tapdancing Christ, no.

He wants to stay at our apartment for an indefinite amount of time while he gets his situation together. No job, no money, not even sure if he has a car. The plan is to crash in the living room for however long he is here.

Dude is a sleazeball. If you consent, he will become your sleazeball. If your roommate wants to be butthurt about it, she and her pet project/sleazeball can live elsewhere.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:51 PM on October 26, 2008

"in the event someone were to stay over, how long would be too long"

"I have a friend who may need help in a situation..."

"Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days." -- Benjamin Franklin
posted by desuetude at 4:09 PM on October 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

No. Your instincts are right on here.

If you can't say no outright, then draw up a letter - one page - that outlines the terms under which you would permit it - he can stay for two weeks, he has no rights to anything in the apartment, he is entitled to sleep between the hours of 11pm and 7am and outside of that the living room remains public domain, he does not have internet access (put a password on it and change it daily - and require HER to give YOU a security deposit to cover his time in the apartment. Tell her she'll get it back once he's left and you've ascertained that there has been no damage to anything, that you once had a bad experience with this situation and while you'd like to help him out, you need to make sure you're covered. "Of course, if he's as solid as guy as you say he is, there shouldn't be any problem."

That will piss her off, but it will say "no".

I cannot even begin to tell you how claustrophobic and how much a prisoner of your own house you will feel with someone you don't know and you don't like in your living room constantly. In my case, a piece of computer equipment went missing, and when I picked up the phone to report the theft to the cops (after hearing a mumbled "well you know there are a lot of junkies in this area") suddenly the computer reappeared and the gentleman in question had friends in portland to go see. Don't go through this.
posted by micawber at 5:27 PM on October 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

The indefinite period, combined with the "living in the lounge" and "no way of contributing or, indeed, ever affording to move in somewhere else" scream "No, No, No" to me.

And a very reasonable no, I might add.
posted by rodgerd at 5:28 PM on October 26, 2008

Please listen to Inspector.Gadget.

I've been the housemate subjected to the Unwanted Move-In, and it's nasty. I've also been the no-plan drifter couch-surfing imposed-on-the-housemates sleazeball, and getting kicked out after three days did me more good than harm.
posted by flabdablet at 5:57 PM on October 26, 2008

Hell no. If your roommate was sensitive, thoughtful, responsible, conscientious, and helpful there would be a chance that her houseguest might be as well- and if she were all those things and he were not, she'd take it upon herself to set a time limit and ground rules and all that. She is less than considerate, and while this is not always the case by any means, I would not be at all surprised if her friend exhibited the same tendencies.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:48 PM on October 26, 2008

No no no no no no no no no.

This situation screams out DISASTER.
posted by winna at 9:53 PM on October 26, 2008

Nthing "No. Jesus tapdancing Christ, no."

It'll be 2 against 1. Think about living with that day after day after day....
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:01 PM on October 26, 2008

I'd say no - the whole thing seems like an insanely bad idea. Remember that this is also your living room that she is casually considering giving away (and your kitchen and bathroom) If she has so little respect for your rights, the freeloader she invites over will have even less.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:41 PM on October 26, 2008

Those are not hypothetical questions, they're future questions disguised as hypothetical questions. You are being manipulated; set up so you can't say no later.

Don't answer the "hypothetical" question. Instead, find a way to answer her actual question that she just hasn't asked yet, making it clear that homeboy cannot stay at your apartment.
posted by Mikey-San at 12:11 AM on October 27, 2008

If he did end up staying, I'd make him sleep in her room. That way the living room stays as it should be and there is less inconveniance for you and enough for her to encourage him to move out.

I wouldn't accept the male vs female argument for sharing a room, it's her pet project and she'll need to compromise if she wants it this way.
posted by mr_silver at 1:50 AM on October 27, 2008

If you and your roommate were close friends or a couple, it would be a different deal -- you would be able to trust her more to be on your side if things didn't work out. But the way things are, you could find yourself outnumbered rather than supported.

So say no. Absolutely no. And if she tries to force it, let her know you'll be leaving as soon as you can find a way out of the apartment.

But supposing you think you have to accept his presence. Do it only if he pays (in advance) your half of everything, including your half of the deposit (which he will get back from you -- not her -- if everything is cool when he leaves). If he can't afford it, then she pays (in advance) for your half, including your half of the deposit in cash to you pending his leaving. Either way, you live for free (and have your deposit covered) until he's gone. Otherwise, he's never going to leave. Never. And your quality of life will go way down until you say fuck it and leave.

Also, record all the serial numbers on your stuff and move your favorite things into your room, where you can lock things away so neither of them have access to them while you're out.
posted by pracowity at 3:14 AM on October 27, 2008

No, please do not do this. I cannot say this strongly enough. Don't piss on your pillow by saying he can stay with restrictions, or monetary contributions, or time limits. Just do not let him in at all. A woman that one of my old roommates had met at Chili's "needed a place to stay for a week", and that turned into six weeks. By the time my girlfriend and I grew a pair and demanded this woman move out, her filth and laziness had nearly consumed our living room, and we had to deal with a ~$600 long distance bill. It's a wonder none of our stuff was stolen, as we did not think to put a lock on our bedroom door. Come to think of it, if you have to put a lock on your bedroom door when you're paying some or all of the rent, there's something deeply wrong.

If this guy needs help, he can find it without violating the sanctity of your living space.
posted by Shecky at 11:22 AM on October 27, 2008

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