Am I stuck with the cat voice for another year?!
November 16, 2008 7:46 PM   Subscribe

AnnoyingAptRentalFilter: I've been in the apartment a year longer than my current roommates. We're all on the lease. We get along, but I can't see doing another whole year in this setup...

The apartment is a 3BR in Brooklyn. We're all in our early 20s, recently out of college (I'm in grad school). I've lived here since January '07. Two old roommates moved out, and I found people from craigslist to fill their spots. The landlord insisted that we all sign the new lease, which will be up January 31 2009. That's not exactly around the corner, but it's approaching. My craigslist postings, which I know are not legally binding or anything, said that the agreement was for a year. Still, they're on the lease now, so I believe that legally we all have the same standing, despite the fact that I have been here longer. I also furnished all of the common space. I have two cats here, and one roommate (Roommate A) has one. Roommate B is totally fine. Roommate A just painfully annoying. I know, I should just suck it up and live with it, but it's gotten to the point that I just can't. She talks to all the cats in this high baby voice that to me has turned into the nails-on-a-chalkboard reaction. It's not just once a day, or even twice. It's constantly when she's home. "Kitty, don't touch that cheese! That's my cheese, not your cheese! Little meow meow keep your little paws out of my cheese!" Problem is, this is a personality thing that I can't really bring up with her, because it's just who she is (her mom came to visit and they were both doing it at the same time!!!!). I've talked about it with my therapist, I've talked about it with friends (who, if it matters, cringe whenever they come over). It's incredibly annoying, but it's not something that we can necessarily work through, since, somehow, it's just who she is. Still, it's gotten to the point that home is not comfortable and cozy. I often keep to my room to avoid her. It's been alright, but I really can't see doing this for another whole year. I'm going to be in school till at least May 2010, and would love to stay here that whole time. It's a great apartment in a great location with great rent (and when does that come along?) and, as I said, I've been here a while and furnished the whole thing. Do I just have to suck it up and deal?! Do I have any recourse? Any tips for dealing with Roommate A, AKA cat-lady-in-the-making??!
posted by iliketolaughalot to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If your lease is up, then there's nothing saying that you have to stay. You could ask the apartment manager if there anything available that would give you the same location and rent greatness.

Or you could ask the person not to expect to be able to stay when the lease is up.
posted by theichibun at 8:14 PM on November 16, 2008

I don't know anyone who survived years of college and grad school whose worst roommate story is a cat lady. Consider that when you're rolling the dice with random roommates again; you could end up with someone a lot worse.

Anecdotally, I have lived with a bi-polar psycho bitch, a guy who used to put dead birds he found in the freezer, a girl whose boyfriend fought his friends in our living room with real swords (and bled several times all over my furniture) and a guy who felt the need to scream bloody murder every time he had an orgasm. The fun of college life.
posted by scabrous at 8:19 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

Not to sound patronizing, but you have it easy. If she pays her bills, doesn't have boyfriends over that never leave, cleans up after herself and doesn't leave nasty notes all over the house, you've got it made. This is easy to say, but you have no idea how good you have it, and won't fully realize until you have it worse. My advice is to suck it up and find a way to deal, 2010 is a year and change away - it's not forever and you could do oh so very worse.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:32 PM on November 16, 2008

Legally, I think you're powerless due to the lease. You could make her life miserable until she leaves of her own of course. Another option is talking to the third roommate and if you both agree, approaching her together and saying honestly and as kindly as possible, "we really don't feel this is working. Our personalities are too different" and asking her to leave.
posted by serazin at 8:33 PM on November 16, 2008

Or you could ask the person not to expect to be able to stay when the lease is up.

Can I do this? On what grounds?

I don't know anyone who survived years of college and grad school whose worst roommate story is a cat lady. Consider that when you're rolling the dice with random roommates again; you could end up with someone a lot worse.

Yup, that's a really good point. But I'd like to see if I do have any options. Something I didn't mention in the OP is that 3 cats in this place is a little much. It's not a huge deal, but my 2 don't get along all that well with hers. And I see that I'm nitpicking (and starting lots of sentences with "and" and "but") but it's just gotten to me.

SO If I'm going to be in it for the long haul, are there any suggestions for dealing with it/her?

posted by iliketolaughalot at 8:39 PM on November 16, 2008

Have you just been honest with her?

She will either try to change or be so hurt that she decides to find somewhere else to live.

posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:45 PM on November 16, 2008

You can start cooing at her every time she coos at the cats. Bonus points if her friends are around because, if they feel the same as you, they'll find it hilarious. Maybe embarrassment will get her to stop? Eventually?

Remember, Pavlov's dog. Only coo at her directly after she coos at the cats. If she hates it enough, maybe she will stop.

If it's who she is, then maybe she will at least acknowledge that not everyone appreciates it.
posted by nikkorizz at 8:50 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, and don't forget to bring up to her that you don't appreciate the cooing. That won't immediately destroy your roomie relationship with her if you don't let it escalate into fight. Just leave it at that.

If it does escalate, well, maybe she will move out.
posted by nikkorizz at 8:53 PM on November 16, 2008

Or you could ask the person not to expect to be able to stay when the lease is up.

Can I do this? On what grounds?

You can ask her to expect that without actually having grounds to do anything about it. You could talk to the landlord and have them find some reason not to let her back. You could just tell her that you don't want her back and if she does come back you'll do really annoying stuff so she'll wish she didn't come back.

The point isn't necessarily to have a way to kick her out when the time comes to sign a new lease. A lot of it is just to let her know that she's annoying and you would like it if she doesn't come back.

If you're feeling vindictive (and if your lease is $X for the apartment and not $X/3 for the spots), you could make a deal with the 3rd roommate and just not sign the lease. Of course this also means you won't have a place to live. So if you go this route make sure you won't screw yourself over.
posted by theichibun at 9:09 PM on November 16, 2008

Be a grownup and ask her to stop doing the voice thing.

This has nothing to do with legality.

If she doesn't want to, ask her to leave.

Give her plenty of notice and be kind, but be firm that it just isn't working out. If she really makes it a problem, then you'll have to deal. But you haven't even spoken to her about it. At least give her that courtesy.
posted by sondrialiac at 10:07 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

Oh, honey. Roommates are like significant others without the sex. It requires the same sort of communication issues and the same sort of compromises.

You need to just tell this girl that no offence, seriously, for reals, do not be offended please, but you've got a pet peeve and she's poking it. You don't think that she's a bad person or doing something wrong, you acknowledge that this is petty shit compared to all the roommates stories you've read on Metafilter (go read them), but you want your homelife to be a happy place and you don't want to resent a perfectly sane roommate and so..............srsly, babytalk is fuckin' killin' me.

Also, in return she gets a moment of carte blanche for complaining about weird shit that's driving her nuts. Throw out the olive branch.
posted by desuetude at 10:22 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think you should consider speaking with her about the voice. It really is a pretty small thing, and probably something she could change. I know it sounds like a really awkward conversation, but if you make it sound more like it's about you than her (ie, "I know this is really weird but I have sensitive ears and high-pitched voices give me a headache! I'm so weird!") it lessens the blow. Just keep it light and self-deprecating.

If that doesn't work, then you can move out, but you should at least try to make it work.
posted by lunasol at 10:45 PM on November 16, 2008

I've talked about it with my therapist, I've talked about it with friends

But you didn't mention it to her, the one person who could change the behavior.

You could always decide to stop letting such a trivial thing annoy you. She puts up with your two cheese stealing cats. She may find that annoying.
posted by 26.2 at 10:51 PM on November 16, 2008

Try to find some things to like about her, hang out with her a little more, try to imagine what she feels when she does it, which is likely that she really likes the cats and feels maternal towards them, and that's how she expresses that feeling, and likely that's how that feeling was expressed to her.

I feel your pain. But I think the key is in finding a way to trick yourself out of your own irritability on the matter; I have a hard time imagining the conversation where you're telling her to move out, but I'm a conflict-avoider myself. The other thing is that everything that everyone says about potentially getting a much worse roommate if you move out applies to anonymous roommate C who has yet to move in. You could get a cryer, a rager, a neat freak, a slob. A psychopath.

Lots of people in this world are wicked annoying and it's helpful to be able to deal with them. You could look at it as an opportunity to do that. It'll keep keep you from raging when people say 'irregardless' or describe foods as 'yummy' (which frankly makes me want to kill myself.) We all have 1. Things that irrationally irritate us and 2. Things we do that secretly drive the people around us nuts.

So, try to put it in perspective, I guess.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:36 AM on November 17, 2008

1. You're right, legally, you have no standing to ask her to move out. You're all three on the lease; the fact that you've been there longer means nothing. If you point it out to her, she might agree to move out, but no, she doesn't HAVE to.

2. As other posters said, this is a very minor complaint in the world of Things Roomates Do To Ruin Your Life, and something you should address as an adult--talk to her about it and ask her to stop. If she doesn't/can't stop, you need to figure out what you want to do--have another unpleasant conversation asking her to move out or decide to move out yourself.

Remember, at this point, you are the one with the problem--the onus is on you to fix it, by talking to her (about the noises or about moving) or moving out yourself.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:33 AM on November 17, 2008

She has no idea how annoying this is, because you haven't told her. Suggestions above for addressing it with her are good approaches. Good luck!
posted by KAS at 8:22 AM on November 17, 2008

SO If I'm going to be in it for the long haul, are there any suggestions for dealing with it/her?

Talk to her. It may be a really smooth conversation; tell her that you're trying to work on not letting things like that bother you but if she can try her best to curb her action, you'd appreciate it. Admitting that it's your problem and not hers makes you sound really human and, for a lot of people, is enough to get them to try to make your life a little easier.

Good luck!
posted by scabrous at 8:31 AM on November 17, 2008

If she's on the lease, you have no legal standing to ask her to leave, no matter how long you've been there. Sorry about that.

However, since the lease is up soon, you can talk to your landlord about taking the lease on yourself and looking for new roommates. Since you've been there the longest and negotiated the original lease, they should be willing to talk to you about this. They're going to have to let you sign and then have the others sign on later, and they're going to have to trust that you can afford the place yourself if you don't find roommates (since, as I keep tirelessly reminding MeFi, landlords are not in the business of renting 1/3 of an apartment). Keep this in mind.

You would also have to refund their deposits yourself, since, if you are keeping the place and asking them to leave, the landlord doesn't have to give those back. You would. I don't know if they gave you the deposits since you were the one who had the place, but keep that in mind.

You could ask the landlord to say that he's starting a policy that there can't be more than one cat per apartment. But, again, your'e still going to have the management issues above.

That said, since, as you say, while you can't start looking for a place now (since most vacancies don't come up until 30 days out), you can gather everyone together and say, "Listen, our lease is up at the end of January. With the holidays and all, I don't want to wait until January 1 to have the discussion about what's happening." Maybe she's planning on leaving. If she's not, maybe you can all have a discussion: "Hey, this might be a good time for everyone to talk about if there's anything that other roommates do that the other finds annoying. I'll start, I know I don't take out the garbage when I'm supposed to and I'm making a commitment to working on that. ROommate A, you have forgotten to lock the front door more than once and it really scares me. Roommate B, I know you love to play with your cat, but it's like fingernails on chalkboard, could you possibly confine that to your room? I know it's silly, please forgive me, I'm a crazy guy sometimes."
posted by micawber at 9:14 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

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