Should I let my housemate know where he stands?
December 14, 2009 8:50 PM   Subscribe

Knowing that two of my housemates plan to leave the third one high and dry, while he has no idea about it, do I tell him? Or is this a breach of trust to them?

I've been sharing a house with four friends for about a year and a half this christmas. Three of them already lived together (and had been for some time) and one moved in after me. For the first year or so, we all got on really well, but lately things have started getting really strained. One of the housemates who I get on particularly well with is moving out of the country in the next few months, and two housemates who've been living together for about five years have really soured in their feelings to one another, they argue about stupid things, bitch about one another constantly, and pick at one another for no good reason, but at the same time they're officially best friends.

I've been thinking about moving out when our contract is up for a while, and a few days ago I started making arrangements with other people about somewhere to live next year, having started this, and not wanting to leave my housemates with an empty room, a bump in rent, and no warning, I mentioned to one of the housemates who are always fighting that I was unlikely to renew my contract the next year. It was at this point that he told me he was planning on moving away from his best friend with our other housemate at the same time.

Considering how much their relationship has soured, I think this is a great idea, and I think it'll do them both good to get away from one another. At the same time, however, in talking to him it became obvious to me just how much of this has already been planned, they've looked at houses, debating moving early and sticking my other housemate and I with the remainder of the contract and rent there's no way we'll be able to pay, and honestly the way he was talking about it came across to me as that he just wanted to put our other housemate in a position where he won't have the time to organize something else that he can afford and will be forced to go home and live with his parents, since right now he's only living off housing benefits and a small amount of money he earns singing every week.

Again, I think our other housemate probably should go home to his parents, It's probably the sensible thing for him to do, but I don't think that it's right for him to have his hand forced because someone who's supposed to be his best friend doesn't approve of his lifestyle.

I've mentioned to this housemate that I'm moving away at the end of the year, and hinted that with our other friend going to America, it's possible he should think about his options and what he'll do next year, but he dismissed the question without any doubt at all, he's certain that there'll still be three people in the house because he believes his best friend to be too apathetic to actually move anywhere else.

Despite the fact that recently both of these guys and their issues have really been driving me nuts, we are still friends, and I really don't want to see either of them get fucked over here. On the one hand, I don't want to sell out the one who wants to leave, because he's got a lot of legitimate issues with the other guy, and I DO think they should get away from each other for a bit, but on the other hand? I'm concerned that his existing resentment means that he'll be a real prick about all of this, and will either try to use it as a way of hurting the other guy emotionally, or forcing him to do what he thinks he should do with his life, by leaving it too late to give him a chance to find other housemates or a cheaper place to live. Is it even my place to say anything? I mean, he knows that some people are leaving, I've not been at all secretive about what I want to do next year, and while we are friends, his history with this other guy predates that by a LOT.

Any advice on this would be welcome. I'm really pretty stressed out about this.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total)
 
Ok, this is vague... but person A is planning to screw person B, and you are wondering if it's a bad idea to let person B know about this? Why would telling person B be a breach of trust, and why would you care about breaching your trust with someone who admitted to you that he is trying to screw someone over?
posted by jrockway at 8:59 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think you should give the other guy the heads up on what's coming. For a variety of reasons, but especially"

debating moving early and sticking my other housemate and I with the remainder of the contract and rent there's no way we'll be able to pay

That right there tells me that this person isn't someone you should be doing favors for by keeping silent about his attempt to stick the other roommate and you with extra expense. I know you don't want to fuck either of your friends over as you say, but at the same time you have proof one of them is trying to fuck the other one over and doesn't seem to care if that fucks *you* over as collateral damage.
posted by barc0001 at 9:01 PM on December 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


Take the one who is about to be screwed. Move out with him in advance.
posted by rokusan at 9:06 PM on December 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Two options...

If you tell person B that they are about to get screwed over - person A might be mad.
If you don't tell person B, they wind up pretty much homeless.

Would you rather be mad or homeless? Personally, I'd tell.
posted by sporaticgenius at 9:06 PM on December 14, 2009


Wait a second, they weren't planning on telling you either? Tell the guy.
posted by june made him a gemini at 9:10 PM on December 14, 2009 [10 favorites]


I'm also reminded of a similar incident years back when I was living with a couple of other people in a house, and one of them met an internet girlfriend from out east. He went out to see her a couple of times and then after getting back from one trip in the summer, informs the other roommate and I that his girlfriend is moving out west and in with us. In 2 days. Me and the other roommate were a little put out that we weren't even consulted about this. However we had nothing on the girlfriend's former room mate in the "put out" department as she informed her roommate that she was leaving the day before rent was due.

Once she got out here (after our roommate paid for her plane ticket to get here) she sat on the couch telling us how her roommate went berserk screaming at her, throwing her stuff out of the apartment onto the lawn 3 stories below and telling her what a horrible person she was. The girlfriend said to us said "I don't understand why she would do something like that?" Before I could stop myself I blurted out "You stuck her with the rent for 2 people and gave her 24 hours notice you were doing it. Because of you she's either going to be financially screwed until she finds a roommate or get kicked out completely. If you can't understand her reaction, there is something wrong with you". We didn't really get along after that left my mouth, but it was for the best.

Anyway, if you don't want to see someone's crap thrown onto the lawn with screaming involved, passing along the fact that others are leaving would be nice.
posted by barc0001 at 9:12 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


You are one of five partners in a housing situation. You only found out about these two planning to screw you because you brought up your own plans to leave. It is absolutely appropriate for you to take these steps:

1. Tell the two that are planning on leaving that they need to tell the one being left behind that they're leaving, right away, because it's the right thing to do. Give them a few days. In the meantime, you should tell the one being left behind that you're planning to leave, and tell him right away.

2. Assuming they haven't done it after a few days, you tell the two that they have until 5pm on some-and-such day to tell him they're leaving, after which you're going to do it, because it's not fair or appropriate to leave him high and dry without notice that they could so easily give.

They don't have to like this plan, and they don't have to like you after this; you should be a responsible person, because that's what people should be. I'm sure you would have liked to have had more notice, especially since you would have been left just as high and dry, eh?
posted by davejay at 9:13 PM on December 14, 2009 [12 favorites]


You can't be expected to keep a confidence when doing so will unfairly screw over a friend of yours.

Furthermore, if you stay silent you are in a very real way helping to screw over your friend.
posted by oddman at 9:13 PM on December 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Your response to the dude dumping this on you should have been, "Dude, that's fucked up. Go tell Best Friend or I will."

There's still time for that, but, really, you should have no qualms about telling the guy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:16 PM on December 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


This guy was about to leave you high and dry. I don't think you owe him any loyalty. Let your housemate know that everyone is bailing and that he's going to be in trouble. Hopefully he has time to get things in order.
posted by TooFewShoes at 9:16 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seconding what davejay said.
posted by waxboy at 9:20 PM on December 14, 2009


Tell him, of course; why is this even... but not to pick on you. The right thing to do when someone tells you something WTF like that, is to say that, right then. WTF, man? Are you going to tell him, so he can make his own plans, or just leave him with 5x rent due?

I don't think you should tell him that you think they're planning on screwing him over, or how much of the plot he's been left out of. No sense creating a Ricky Lake scene. You should, though, remind him that you're planning to move out soon, and that the other roommates mentioned doing the same, and what are his plans?

If you have to later, play "Oh, that was a secret? My bad."
posted by ctmf at 9:23 PM on December 14, 2009


y'all should discuss this all together. no one wants to get screwed with the rent, and no one wants to have their belongings thrown from a 7th story apartment. it will probably be a tense house meeting, but better than any other possible outcome.
posted by beepbeepboopboop at 9:31 PM on December 14, 2009


Tell friend number one that you've thought about and are uncomfortable with friend number two being left high and dry. Tell him you know there's a lot of water under the bridge, but that you really don't want to see anyone get screwed over. Then wait a couple days and then either tell him or set up a roommate meeting. That should push things along. A meeting isn't a bad idea anyway... In fact, it may be the only way you can all salvage your friendships, though I think there's a good chance the friendships will fade away for a while. I agree everyone should tone down the drama as much as possible.
posted by xammerboy at 9:52 PM on December 14, 2009


Your friends are monstrous douchebags. I don't care how much their issues with the to-be-screwed guy are "legitimate," this is not the way to deal with those issues. Tell him, tell him, tell him.
posted by mreleganza at 10:01 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


My two favorite words in roommate situations "house meeting!"
They were about to screw you, you have no loyalty to them.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 10:17 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you don't tell him what you know, YOU are screwing him as well.

Tell the other two jamokes to tell your roommate what their plans are. Do NOT give them a deadline. They might move out preemptively to screw y'all over. In a few days after asking them to tell roomie, if they haven't ask them to do so again.
Make a plan as to what you are going to do if they leave you high and dry. They just warned you that they were going to do it. Protect yourself.
Finally after you are protected, tell roommie yourself and offer to help him in any way you can.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:56 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


It sounds as if you hope that maybe, if you don't say anything, the arrangement will somehow elegantly resolve itself with nobody hurt and nobody mad at anybody. That is pure fantasy. This situation is already irrevocably screwed up, and is not going to end in a pretty, comfortable way no matter what you do or refrain from doing. All you can do is insist that these issues be confronted openly (and soon) so that nobody has unfair leverage over anybody else. Come down on the side of fairness, and at least you'll leave feeling decent about yourself.

Besides that, keep a leash on the sort of thinking that goes:

... I don't want to sell out the one who wants to leave, because he's got a lot of legitimate issues with the other guy, and I DO think they should get away from each other for a bit, but on the other hand? I'm concerned that his existing resentment means that he'll be a real prick about all of this, and will either try to use it as a way of hurting the other guy emotionally, or forcing him to do what he thinks he should do with his life...

You can't and do not need to micromanage these people's lives and relationships. They're going to have to find their own way through the minefields they find themselves in, just like you are.
posted by jon1270 at 3:39 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


seconding "House Meeting" you can't just move out of a share house without telling people and leaing one person with a 5 bedroom house needing to pay the rent.

Jesus. thats just dodgy and anyone who did that amongst my friends would be crucified.
posted by mary8nne at 4:56 AM on December 15, 2009


Why is the person moving out keeping it secret? What does he gain from it? Could you prevent him from moving out? Will you yell at him? The only reason he's keeping it secret is to fuck you all over. Why join him in this plan?
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:45 AM on December 15, 2009


Yeah, "If you don't tell him today, I'm telling him tomorrow" is what I would do.
posted by mediareport at 6:17 AM on December 15, 2009


Since apparently they're waiting until the end of the lease, no one is going to get screwed on rent. The one guy just won't have anyone else to renew the lease with, and will then have to go live with his parents. That's not cool, but isn't the same as dipping out on the rent.

I'd ask the one friend who might be getting screwed one more time if he knows what he is going to do when the lease is up. When he says that X won't move anywhere else because he's too lazy, you should say "You might want to check with him. That's a big assumption." But since no one here is breaking the lease, it's really the one guy's responsibility to figure out who is going to sign a lease with him. You're only promising to pay rent during the term of the lease when you sign it, there's nothing about having to sign another lease after the first one expires.
posted by spaltavian at 6:24 AM on December 15, 2009


well in Aus and Uk at the end of the agreed lease term the rental usually falls into a 'continuing lease' from which you can leave at any time as long as you give 1 months notice. In fact, I think you have to notify the agent that you are vacating at the end ofthe lease period at least 1 month in advance.

As a co-tenant I'd be pretty pissed if one of my flatmates left without giving 1 months notice. (or if they didn't give notice i'd expect them to pay rent for the minimum of 1 month or the time taken to find a replacement.) Its standard practice.
posted by mary8nne at 7:17 AM on December 15, 2009


You said several things about what your roomies should do, but all you really need to worry about is what you should do. Whether your roomies should be friendly or not or live with parents or not is irrelevant to the decision you need to make: should I be loyal to someone who is not loyal to me, or should I tell my roomie that he needs to make arrangements to keep a roof over his head? Tell him.
posted by notashroom at 8:43 AM on December 15, 2009


I was in a similar predicament many moons ago. The room mates went on a weekend road trip (partially funded by my portion of the rent) and, when they got back there was an eviction notice on the door. I was left scrambling to find someone to help move my stuff and, a place to store it while they moved their belongings to a swanky new abode. Makes me angry just to think about what they did to me.

The room mate, regardless of everything else, has the right to know so he can decide what he wants to do. It's not about loyalty, or, forcing him to make decisions he might not otherwise make, but being fair.

It sounds as if you hope that maybe, if you don't say anything, the arrangement will somehow elegantly resolve itself with nobody hurt and nobody mad at anybody. That is pure fantasy. This situation is already irrevocably screwed up, and is not going to end in a pretty, comfortable way no matter what you do or refrain from doing. All you can do is insist that these issues be confronted openly (and soon) so that nobody has unfair leverage over anybody else. Come down on the side of fairness, and at least you'll leave feeling decent about yourself.

This.
posted by squeak at 9:36 AM on December 15, 2009


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