creepy roommate...question about getting out of the lease?
September 19, 2009 11:49 PM   Subscribe

I am a 25 year old graduate student. I signed a lease with a 20 year old undergrad who has nothing in common with me, except that we are from the same country. She seems fine at first, just socially awkward, but after a month of living together she began to be extremely rude/inpolite, and show signs of hostility.

I tried to talk to her about it a couple of times, but only got emails that basically tells me to stop bothering her. She is NOT a bad roommate in all other ways-- quiet,clean, fiscally responsible. But I am really fed up with the negative vibe in the apartment, and I felt that I've done everything I can to keep our interactions civil, but to no avail. I am really wanting to move out. I am honestly also a little scared by her, because she does this freakishly creepy "death glare" when I greet her, throws tantrums unexpectedly without telling me why (slam door, etc), and I sometimes find torn up/cut up stuff in the trash can. I feel like this girl has some serious crazy in her. She got really pissed the other day because I had friends over and didn't tell her, but truth to be told I chickened out when I was trying to tell her because she stared at me like she was going to kill me, so I didn't say a word. She also has friends over 5 nights out of 7, never notify me first. I love this apartment, and my landlord is amazing. My lease is not up until july 2010, though. If I find someone to take over my lease, can I get out of it? And do I need to get my roommate to consent (we both signed the lease)? or is it just me and the landlord? I really don't want to have to talk to her more than absolutely necessary.
posted by atetrachordofthree to Human Relations (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Are you nuts? Hell yes, move out.

A lease is not like selling your soul, you can break them. Check it, you will probably have to give 30 days' notice, and/or find someone to replace.

Sorry to say this, but you're gonna have to toughen up and speak to your housemate about this. Her reactions are no concern of yours. Tell her you're gonna move out, if she wants to, you can look at getting someone to take over the whole apartment. If she doesn't want to move out, tell her you'll find a room-mate to replace.

Get thee to a photocopier and starting printing out some notices, Let your landlord know if you're giving up the place, of if you're looking for a replacement as soon as you can.
posted by smoke at 12:20 AM on September 20, 2009

No awesome apartment or landlord is worth this.

Tell her that you're leaving and that you'll be subletting. Tell her that she can have final say over the subletter.
posted by k8t at 12:34 AM on September 20, 2009

PS without knowing what your lease says, we can't help on legal issues.
posted by k8t at 12:36 AM on September 20, 2009

Ten more months of roommate hell would be tough. Read the lease you signed, then talk candidly with the landlord. If he gets the same vibe from her, he will want to keep you and he will be on your side. Good luck, I hope you can get her to move out of the apartment you love. Sounds like she has enough friends that she can work something out with one of them. Hopefully it won't be too difficult to find a roommate you can deal with.
posted by Daddy-O at 12:50 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you really like the apartment and landlord, you could offer her some money to move out and find a new roommate.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:00 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I spent 14 month with a housemate from hell, who caused a really bad vibe, was liable to death stares, shouting for no good reason etc and my advice would be to get out of the arrangement one way or another as soon as possible - the stress is not worth it.
posted by koahiatamadl at 4:04 AM on September 20, 2009

Tell her that she can have final say over the subletter.

Do not do this. She will veto everyone.
posted by smoke at 4:26 AM on September 20, 2009 [11 favorites]

Yeah, seconding smoke... my now-wife had a roommate who at first said anyone was fine as a replacement, but the instant my wife brought anyone in, the roommate and her father (!) would call and berate my wife for even suggesting...
posted by notsnot at 5:44 AM on September 20, 2009

Not knowing what state you're in, it's hard to know what the consequences are to breaking the lease. You should really talk to your landlord about the situation and let him know that the only reason you are considering moving out is because her behavior is over the top.
However, you really need to talk to her more seriously first and stop being afraid of her. Here's what can happen if you confront her:
1) She realizes she's being a lunatic and maybe tones the crazy down.
2) She throws a fit and nothing changes.
3) She does something threatening and you can get her kicked out.

Because of #3, I would suggest trying to talk to her about it at a neutral location, like a coffee shop or something. If she'll agree to go.
If she won't agree to talk to you at all, you have to go to the landlord, but you can't do that now without at least trying to get it through her head that she is acting inappropriately.
Also, can you talk to her friends and see if they know anything about why she acts like she hates you all the time?
posted by ishotjr at 7:27 AM on September 20, 2009

Response by poster: I am pretty much certain that I'm going to move out. I have a good friend who's in similar shoes and we had talked about either help each other get our own places or find an apartment together. I think I am going to talk to the landlord today.

I tried to talk to her, either in person or by email, a couple of times. She didn't respond to any of them, and then one night just basically screamed "I am not fucking pissed at you!!!!! My face just looks pissed all the fucking time!!!"....and that wasn't convincing. Then she sent an email telling me to stop trying to talk to her because it's annoying.

It wasn't so much that as her demeanor and the way she talks. Yesterday I got an email from her saying that she was extremely pissed that I had a party in the house (which she walked in on). The reality was that I had classmates over because we were doing a project together, so I hardly consider that a party. So I apologized via email and asked her to clarify what she meant by "party" when she says no party in the house.

her response was
" party means a lot of people. a lot of people means more than five. can I stop talking about it? I feel like I am going to blow off my mind if I talk more. DONE! I don't even want to talk about it anymore"

So that's her side of communication.
posted by atetrachordofthree at 8:16 AM on September 20, 2009

I'd just go straight to the landlord. It sounds like you have a nice one who might be open to negotiating a way out of your lease. Typically, depending on what's on that piece of paper, the worst that can happen is you're out a little money for breaking your lease. But you might be surprised at your landlord's eagerness to work something else out.
posted by Kirklander at 8:31 AM on September 20, 2009

She tears stuff up? and that scares you? I think that's an overreaction.

Tell her you're unhappy, that the atmosphere at home is uncomfortable, you're unhappy living with and you want to resolve the problem. See if the University Health Service has a counselor who would mediate and try to resolve the issues. You may find that your behavior is problematic for her as well. You'll either work it out, or come up with a plan for one of you to leave.
posted by theora55 at 9:42 AM on September 20, 2009

She's 20. She's a princess. She's treating you like you're her parents or something.

Don't live with, or even spend time around, people who haven't realized that 1) they're not royalty and 2) tantrums are not how adults interact.

Also, talk to the landlord! He might have other units.
posted by effugas at 9:46 AM on September 20, 2009 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: theora55,

I think you are right that my behavior could be problematic for her as well. I am not saying that this is a one way thing. I am sure we both are irritating the other to death.

I guess I wanted to clarify the "tear things up" and the "I am scared" comments. If I just find, say, a shirt that she wears often all of a sudden torn up and in the trash can, as an isolated event, I wouldn't think much. Combined with other things though (such as a list of rules that she posted on a wall when we first moved in all of a sudden shredded"), makes me feel like she's about to explode any second. If she explodes just by throwing a tantrum, then I don't care. But if she needs to deface stuff to express frustration, then I don't know what will happen when she gets outraged.

I have made up my mind to move out as soon as I find someone to take over my lease.
posted by atetrachordofthree at 10:18 AM on September 20, 2009

It sounds to me like this is her first shared-living situation. Her attitude (especially in respect to her having people over vs you having people over) suggests that she thinks of the living spaces as "hers", and you are an intruder in "her" space. This type of person is usually best left to live on their own.
The reality is that she has already cast you as the "intruder", and there's no way to fix that, because anything you do will be construed as an act of aggression into "her" space.

One of you must move. Alas.
posted by Billegible at 10:42 AM on September 20, 2009

Mostly in cases like this the landlord will not really care who is on the lease, but it will be easier on him if you sublet the apartment to your replacement and the original lease continues to the end. You want to nullify your old lease and have them create a new lease with your replacement tenant so you are not on the hook for anything after you move out.

Also, you might want to rent a PO box and start shifting ALL your mail there immediately, mainly any bills that are in your name. Call every place that has your current address and change it. If you do have any apartment bills that are in your name (power, cable, phone, etc) make sure you switch them to your roommate as soon as possible after you move out..
posted by Yorrick at 11:05 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just to be balanced, her one point about 'not being pissed, just having a face that looks pissed' is something I can identify with.

Some of us just don't have a naturally smiley neutral facial expression. My neutral expression looks like an angry one, and like she said, it gets really annoying when an overly sensitive person keeps asking if I'm angry. I've had TONS of people tell me how surprised they are that I'm nice, because of their first impression judgments they made based on MY FACE. I've remedied the situation by walking around with a slight smile, but it takes effort -- my facial muscles are working to keep that smile so people aren't intimidated by me.

That said, she does sound like she has anger management/space control issues. But the perceived 'death glares' may not have been death glares. Just a neutral expression that happened to be on the scary side. She definitely has communication problems though, so I don't blame you.

My experience is just something to ponder. But it doesn't matter in the end, you are feeling uncomfortable and should move out.
posted by hellomina at 12:43 PM on September 20, 2009 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I don't think anyone has mentioned this yet--your university probably has a student housing office that can give you advice on (or refer you to a free legal clinic for) your rights and obligations with regard to the lease and your roommate. An example of what I'm talking about is toward the bottom of this page from the University of Pittsburgh--under "Tenant Help Services" there's a number students can call. I'd imagine that these offices mostly deal with tenant/landlord disputes, but I'd imagine they'd be able to help you sort out your options with regard to both your landlord and your roommate.

I've seen a few bad roommate situations come down to one person saying "I'm moving out. I can find you a new roommate, or you can find one yourself." No one I know bothered to call a lawyer on the roommate who left, but I don't know if that's actually legal. I have a feeling a few of these people opened themselves up to serious legal/financial trouble, but since it was students and college apartments, the students weren't aware of their legal rights and the landlords only cared that the rent was paid (exactly who paid didn't matter). So that's why I'd recommend sitting down with someone who can help you determine your options.
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:27 PM on September 20, 2009

Response by poster: That really is a very very good point I never thought of...but you are right. p.s. thanks to everyone who replied. It really helped me a lot to hear voices from all perspectives....certainly calmed me down!
posted by atetrachordofthree at 4:48 PM on September 20, 2009

I bet she throws tantrums because she doesn't know how to handle disagreement like an adult, and people give in and do what she wants when she freaks out like that. Can you just give her a withering look when she does that and say something like "well, that's nice" or, if you're really annoyed, call her out on it and tell her, in a level-headed but serious manner, that this needs to stop and she should start behaving like an adult. Yelling and screaming and freaking out are irrelevant to whatever discussion you'd like to have about having friends over, or whatever.

Saying this as someone who had an explosive temper at age 20 and would occasionally freak out and yell at people or throw/break things. It's just immaturity. I wouldn't be afraid of her. I also wonder if she is taking it out on you when other things/people upset her, because you are polite and put up with her shit.
posted by citron at 7:24 PM on September 20, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks folks!

In fact, today I talked to the landlord candidly and informed her of my decision to move out. She told me that i didn't have to find a replacement, because she's just going to live alone.

Then she proceeded to scream on the phone to her parents about how she doesn't care how much they are paying for her housing.

I also found out today that she actually has a lot of family in town, but none wants her anywhere close...i should've figured.

Thanks again for all the responses!
posted by atetrachordofthree at 9:30 PM on September 20, 2009

Please get her a Metafilter account! Pure gold.
posted by banshee at 9:35 AM on September 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks for letting us know what happened. It sounds like she may have some sort of personality disorder. I'm glad to hear that you're getting out of there!
posted by Jacqueline at 12:49 PM on September 21, 2009

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