I screwed up; what do I do now?
January 3, 2010 10:54 PM   Subscribe

Oh boy... I've screwed up. I invited a woman to live with me. I am female, reasonably well-employed, decent income, have my own place, etc., and the invite had nothing to do with sex or a relationship of any kind. Things have already turned sour and I need some advice, a sane voice or two...


The invite had to do with her situation: she is a domestic violence victim and was living in a shelter. I came to know her b'c I volunteered with the Humane Society to act as a foster home for animals that the owner temporarily can't house (in this economy, pets are being abandoned/put down b'c the owners are losing their apartments/homes, etc.). "Know" is the wrong word - I met her a few times, learned about her situation and felt that maybe I could help her - she's in a position where she needs a hand. I tried to do some inquiring as to what sort of person she might be: she pretty much told me all the 'correct' answers (you know, clean, considerate, hard-working, just down on her luck currently).

When I extended the invite, I included that it wouldn't be free, that I'd expect her to pay a fair rent and utilities. A few days before she moved in, she stated that she (1) had nowhere else to go; (2) no family or close friends in the area; and (3) brings home less than $200/week (in the NYC area!). I should have said no, I know that now. I didn't. At my income, I wasn't concerned about the decrease in rent; I was just interested in helping her (and, honestly, in using the extra cash to pad some savings or pay for some travel). We agreed she'd pay $200/month, which covers the electricity and cable/internet. A 'fair' rent would be more along the lines of $600-$700/month.

Come move-in day, she arrives, says that she's completely out of the shelter and can't go back. (Even more is later revealed: she "no longer qualifies" for the DV shelter because her abuser wasn't and isn't a boyrfriend/husband. I'm fuzzy on that, but end result: no shelter is available to her other than a homeless shelter). A bit later, she says she has no money and can't give me anything towards the rent.

Then, the kicker: that same day, she buys cigarettes and two huge bottles of beer (40oz?). She then proceeds to smoke in the room (which we'd agreed she wouldn't do - I don't smoke and can't abide that stench) and to get drunk - drunk to the point that she was swaying while standing and slurring her words. She passed out on the couch with the TV and lights on.

I thought: "Okay, maybe she's feeling some freedom; the shelter was a religious/restrictive place..." That was Friday.

Saturday, Sunday, she worked and things were... okay. Not great. The smell of the cigarettes makes me sick and headachey but she didn't get ass-over-head drunk. She also didn't exactly motivate out the door towards work - turns out she works only 30 hours/week most weeks. Both Friday and Saturday nights, though, she failed to take her cat into her bedroom and close the door - resulting in a two am screaming cat wake-up call for me (that's explained a bit below).

Tonight, she got drunk again. Before she was completely drunk, I approached her about the rent. She hadn't made any mention of when she'd pay me, etc., but she had, once again, purchased beer and cigarettes. She admitted that she gets paid on Fridays and agreed that she would pay me weekly on Fridays, which I'm totally cool with her doing that. I also mentioned her drinking (she was already half/three-quarters of the way through another bottle of beer) and that it concerned me b'c I'm not cool with housing an alcoholic (I was a bit more eloquent face-to-face with her and broached it in terms of "I have a borderline issue with alcohol myself, I really don't want that sort of behavior in my home...blah,blah,blah"). She stated that she's 'careful' about her drinking because her parents had issues with alcoholism but that getting drunk, alone, on this past Friday night was just her way of releasing the stress of having lived in the restrictive shelter. She assured me that alcohol isn't an issue for her and that she doesn't get drunk often. I bought it.

During all of this and prior to her moving in, I've had issues with her cat attacking mine. Mine is an older female, roughly 7 or 8 pounds; hers is a middle aged male, roughly 20-22 pounds. When he goes after my cat, he can do damage. The situation has my cat stressed out but things are fine so long as the male is kept in a separate room when no one is around or when we're sleeping. When this woman moved in (actually, prior to her moving in; I've made no secret of the fact that I have a problem with her cat's behavior towards mine), I told her that her cat had to be kept in her room at night and whenever no one was home. She claimed to be fine with that.

About the room: I've had my place for a while (more than a year) and my bedroom happens to be the smallest in the house. It fits a queen bed, a small hope chest and, really, not much else (the bedroom is only for sleeping). The room I gave her is the largest. It can fit a queen bed, three large wardrobes, a chest of drawers, and still has room for a sitting area with a TV and chair. If there were a kitchenette and bathroom in there, it could be its own (small) apartment!

Tonight, as she continued drinking and proceeded to get drunk, again, a few things happened:

1) She told me that I'd have to tell her a date when I wanted her to start paying rent. She added, "Oh, and if it's this week, tell me how I can afford food, too." She laughed, but the tone was very snide.
2) She complained that I took a 30-minute bath. (The bath? I take one each night to relax me so I can sleep without sleeping pills).
3) While I was in the bath, her cat attacked mine, causing her to scream (so much for a relaxing bath). When I came out, I found that she had left her cat out of her room (the door was closed, she was in her bedroom but the cat was in the main living areas). She had also left the TV and all the lights on. I again told her that her cat must be kept in her room when there's no one around to separate him from my cat. A few minutes later, just as I'm crawling into bed, she came back (staggering and slurring) and said: "Well, how about you just keep your bedroom door closed?" (Implying, of course, that my cat should be the one separated). My bedroom isn't set up to keep a cat closed in it - there's no litterbox, no water, no food, plus: it's MY PLACE! Are you kidding me? I was momentarily stunned then replied that it was my place and that wasn't going to happen. She responded: "Well, your cat *is* the one on her last legs...I mean, why should [my cat] suffer?" I was (and still am) furious.
(4) With regard to her staggering drunkenness, I told her that this was the sort of thing I didn't want in my house; that getting drunk, alone, every once in a blue moon might be okay but that if it were to become a pattern, it wasn't acceptable. She answered back: "Oh, yeah? Well what about that empty wine bottle in the trash? Don't tell me *you* weren't drinking." I hadn't been: the wine bottle had been acting as a bud vase but the flowers were old and very dead so I tossed it. "Oh, sure."

She went to her room and started smoking, with the door open, all the lights in the rest of the place and the TV on. I went around, turned things off and shut her door (gods, that stench is everywhere now!) with her cat on the inside. I tried to sleep but my cat worried at me - she was pacing my bed and obviously stressed. A few minutes later, the male cat came in and attempted to attack her. Apparently the woman turned off her lights then opened her bedroom door (doing the reverse would have alerted me the door had opened because of the placement of the doors and my bed).

At the moment, I'm pretty angry. I'm already regretting my attempt at being altruistic and generous (no, this isn't the only generous thing I've done, but it certainly was the biggest). But if I kick her out... jesus, she has no where to go. I'm confused and torn about kicking her out because she's such a nice person and so agreeable when she's sober; drunk, though, I can't stand her.

So... my question is multiple:

(1) I have to kick her out, right? Do I have another option here?
(2) When I kick her out, how do I do this? She has keys to the place. Do I just switch out the doorlocks then tell her or give her a week to vacate?
(3) Do I have an obligation to help her find some other place to be?
(4) Any other general advice in regards to this situation would be greatly appreciated.

Please, don't harp on what an idiot I've been. I know: doing this was sheer stupidity.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (145 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
You have no obligation to this woman. You're doing her a HUGE favor and she's throwing it back in your face.
posted by mollymayhem at 11:00 PM on January 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


1 - Yes. 2 - Give her a week and then change the locks. 3 - No. 4 - It's not your fault you were trying to help and it sounds like you got played. I hate when crap like this happens to nice people. I'd be more worried for her cat than for her. It's not his fault that his owner is a jerk.
posted by youcancallmeal at 11:03 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kick her out and change the locks pronto. I'd also talk with the people who worked at the shelter...who might be able to give you more background info. Do you have anything in writing about this agreement? I'm not sure what the laws here are if you do.
posted by brujita at 11:04 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


1. yes, she has to go.
2. yes, change the locks.
3. no.
4. do it today (1/4/10).

you need a nice, agreeable person who's SOBER. don't be a sucker.
posted by elle.jeezy at 11:06 PM on January 3, 2010 [14 favorites]


1) Yes. Make sure you have other strong and calm people around when you turf her in case she gets violent.
2) She's not on a lease and hasn't paid rent yet so she's a glorified couch surfer. Switch out the doorlocks, have her collect her stuff with someone watching, and get her out. If it'll help, pay for cab fare so she gets the hell out of your neighborhood.
3) No.
4) Her own actions have a lot to do with the situation she's in. Do you have any real proof that she was even in the DV shelter? She may just be a serial user who sized you up as a soft touch.
posted by benzenedream at 11:07 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sounds like she has a lot of problems, but it's unfair for her to be giving you problems, too - especially since you're going above and beyond to accommodate her. Don't feel bad if you must redact your offers of assistance, as she is completely abusing your good will.
posted by illenion at 11:07 PM on January 3, 2010


No option but for her to go. A week is generous. Based on her character as described, I can guarantee that the time between asking her to leave, and her deadline for leaving, will be hellish.

If you gave her a list of potential places to call for help, you would be going above your duty.

Change the locks.

Good luck.
posted by The Deej at 11:08 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Get her out and change the locks in the next 24 hours. The sooner you do this, the better for legal reasons and for your sanity and safety. I would in no way allow this to go any longer than you already have. Next time you want a roommate get a deposit and rental agreement...
posted by iamabot at 11:10 PM on January 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


You've tried to do a good deed. It's not your fault the recipient can't seem to appreciate that.

Throw the ingrate out.
posted by Target Practice at 11:10 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Kick her out. Be prepared to call the police if necessary. Realize that she might have some type of renter's rights (regardless of the fact that she hasn't paid you anything yet); if you want to make sure you're doing this 100 percent correctly, you might consider a one-time consult with a real estate lawyer. IANYL and I do not practice the sort of law which would come in handy in your situation or your state.
posted by Happydaz at 11:11 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


You're not an idiot, no need to be so harsh on yourself. However, it sounds like you have a very big heart, and unfortunately, fucked-up, manipulative people like to take advantage of people with big hearts. This is probably a very useful lesson in how to deal with fucked-up, manipulative people.

I agree that you should go the lock-changing route. Mainly because she sounds like the kind of person who might use a week-long window to trash your place or steal your stuff. When she leaves the apartment, call a confident friend and change the locks. If she won't leave, call the police.

If you're pretty sure she won't be leaving the apartment anytime in the next couple of days, then call said friend and confront her. Give her an hour to get out.

Sorry you're having to deal with this.
posted by lunasol at 11:12 PM on January 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


You followed your heart, so don't feel bad about that.

But this woman sounds like a nightmare. She's not attempting to pay you (a very fair and low) rent. She's not abiding by the rules of *your* place. She's rude, disruptive and frankly, I'd be a little scared. She's not clean or considerate, and if she's down on her luck . . . well her general demeanour leads me to believe that it may be largely by her own doing.

So to answer your questions:

1) Yeah, I think you have to kick her out.

2) I'd take a day off of work, pack her stuff and put it outside, be ready with her cat and have an ominous-looking tough guy friend there with you. I would *not* give her any time to vacate. Frankly, everything about her behavior makes me think she'd probably rob you blind or trash your place.

3) You have gone beyond any obligations you could even have imagined having.

4) Worry about yourself, not her. She's blown on.

Embarrassingly for me and my pride, I've been in situations where I've had to rely on the mercy and generosity of others. (You can read about my war experiences all over this site for some idea of what I've been through.) I worked *my ass off* to be a good "guest" and to repay every single person who helped me, many, many, many times over. Not just "in kind," but by being a good and generous person, by working hard and living honestly and doing everything I can to make the world a better place. It crushes me that some abused woman out there may *now* not get the sort of help she needs (and would be grateful for) from someone like you, because this horrid, unthinking and selfish person has fried your capacity for selfless assistance.

She will use you to the extent that you let her, without any guilt at all. Boot her out ASAP.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:13 PM on January 3, 2010 [69 favorites]


I should add that under no circumstances should you ever cop to offering to accept rent. For your own protection, she was someone you let stay overnight who wouldn't leave.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:15 PM on January 3, 2010 [30 favorites]


You sound guilty. You sound like you feel bad for wanting to kick this person out. You also sound like you feel responsible for what will happen to this woman.

Stop it!

I like the direct answers people have given you to questions 1 - 3. But, now, here's the big thing: it sounds like you're going to have a lot of trouble actually doing it. You just need to keep in mind the fact that you gave this woman an incredible opportunity... And she blew it. She blew it. It's her fault that she couldn't make it work. She is responsible for herself, and you're not.

It sounds like she's going to play the pity card, and it's going to be important for you to figure out how to respond to any comments or questions from her. Be prepared to not give more help. Find some sort of phrase that sounds natural to you, whether it be "It is sad that you're in this predicament, but there is nothing more I can do," or "That is unfortunate, and I wish you luck," or... well, whatever. Have it be something that does absolutely nothing to make you sound like you're willing to take responsibility for her actions, and gives absolutely no hint that you might be talked into giving more help. And then stick with it. Don't give her an inch.

You are a helpful person. You clearly care so much, and you have done so much to try to help another. That is good.... But please just keep in mind that you can't help everybody, that it's not your fault that this person isn't in the right state to receive your good will. It is very unfortunate, yes, and in a perfect world everything would have been so much different... But this world isn't perfect, and this person has abused your generosity.
posted by Ms. Saint at 11:17 PM on January 3, 2010 [12 favorites]


But if I kick her out... jesus, she has no where to go.

I was expecting to be more sympathetic to her, but by the time I got to the end of your story it was clear that she is the sort of person who could probably benefit from hitting bottom by ending up in a homeless shelter.

Nth throw her out as soon as possible. I lean towards immediately because it doesn't sound like she'll be reasonable to you after being given a deadline to leave, and because things like the smoking and the reneging on the rent agreement make it totally reasonable to chuck her into the street. Nth invite some friends over and just do it quickly.

I know: doing this was sheer stupidity.

It was very gracious of you; kudos are due. And, if you can take this sort of hit and not let it negatively affect your sense of charity, you'll be even better for it.
posted by kmennie at 11:19 PM on January 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you need any help with not feeling guilty about kicking her out, keep in mind that:

- She may very well have lied about her situation. The lack of other friends, etc. might well be bullshit, or at least a bunch of half-truths.

- You are probably the tenth person she has done this to, and she will find another one.
posted by bingo at 11:20 PM on January 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


This woman is using you as a doormat and you are letting her. Tell her that she has one week to find a new place to live. In that week you expect her to follow the house rules (not smoking and keeping her cat in her room) or you will change the locks and put her stuff on the curb immediately.

Try not to feel bad. You have bent over backwards to try and give this person a good life and she has completely ruined her chance. I too had to learn this lesson the hard way. I know you feel horrible about it, but there comes a time when enough is enough. Common decency seems beyond this woman. Maybe a homeless shelter will be the 'rock bottom' she needs to get her life on track. She certainly has no need while she is living in your cushy apartment for free.

1) Yes, you need to kick her out. No there is no other option. For a normal person you could have a frank discussion and try to get things in writing, but this woman doesn't seem to have any basic social skills so you will not be able to reason with her.

2) Give her a week, then change the locks and put her things out on the curb. The week is only if you are feeling generous and she agrees to follow the house rules. Let her know that if the rules are broken she will be out right then. As in, if you get woke up by a kitty assault in progress then she and the cat will be out on the street within the next 15 minutes. I think you should tell her in no uncertain terms that you understand that she has to go to a homeless shelter, and that it her choice because she refused to show any respect for you, your pet, and your home. Call the police if you need to have her forcibly removed. (It wouldn't surprise me if this was the 'domestic' problem that landed her in the shelter to begin with.)

3) You have no obligation to this person. You have already given her free room and she has cost you plenty in energy costs, and who knows what it will take to get the smoke stench out of your home.

4) Lock away any valuables, and prepare for her to destroy your belongings when you give her the news. If you can stay home for the next week to watch your things it might be a good idea. Consider boarding your cat if you can't be there to watch her. I wouldn't put anything past this woman.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:24 PM on January 3, 2010


i advise you to do what's been suggested first thing this morning based on ms. saint's comment. do it while you're mad. take the day off. get right on it. anyone you can email tonight? do it. if she's as disrespectful as you say, she IS going to give you trouble.
posted by elle.jeezy at 11:29 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


As others have said, you have a big heart and did an incredibly generous, compassionate thing. Please understand that the fact that this woman has abused your kindness says something about her and nothing about you.

Also, I just want to underscore Dee Xtrovert's point about not giving her time to vacate, as much as it may seem to go against your generosity and sense of fairness; given what you've said here, there's no reason to think she won't trash your place and/or steal you blind over the next week if she's given the slightest chance. Pack her stuff, change the locks, and have at least one friend present (preferably an imposing male friend) when you inform her that she is out. If you cannot bear to leave her with nothing, hand her a list of shelters and some cab fare.
posted by scody at 11:31 PM on January 3, 2010 [24 favorites]


I agree with the other posters, but:
Don't take a week - she needs to leave now;
Collect any pawnable valuables, your ID and bank books and leave them to a friend's house;
When you call a locksmith to change your locks you should explain your situation to him/her. Locksmiths usually know people who work as security guards, and they can help arrange someone to provide backup when you kick her out.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:37 PM on January 3, 2010 [14 favorites]


After thinking about it for a few minutes I have to revise my answer.

Kick her out now. Get a friend over, even your super if you can't find somebody else. Pack her stuff and call her a cab (don't give her the money, pay the driver to take her to the homeless shelter.) The longer you let her stay, the worse it will get. She is treating you like garbage and expects to be there for awhile. She is going to get barbaric when she finds out you want her out.

I still think you need to let her know that this is her fault. She is going to beg, plead, maybe cry and when that doesn't work she will probably get nasty. You need to swallow your pity and harness your inner b*tch. You gave her a great opportunity and she didn't take advantage of it. You did all you could and she ruined it. Actions have consequences, it's a law of nature.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:42 PM on January 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


Did you agree on a move out date? How long has she been living with you? (It sounds like a week, but I'm not completely sure.)

It's kind of hard to answer some of these without knowing her. If you tell her she has to move out (ASAP or in a week), do you think she'd be vindictive enough (while drunk or sober) to do harm to you or your house or your cat while she is still around? Her being so blase about her cat attacking yours makes me wary.

You can say firmly that you realize now that you're not cut out to have a roommate, and that you'll help her find a new place (even if it's a homeless shelter) and help her move her stuff there next weekend. If a week's notice isn't an option (like if she'd react poorly enough that bad things could happen between when you tell her she has to leave and she actually does), then arrange for her to move out yourself, and then make the announcement to her right before you actually help her make the move. Again, you can say that you see now that you're not cut out for roommates, and so you arranged for her to move, and they're expecting her today and you'll help her get her stuff there.

Or, if absolutely necessary, you can arrange for her to stay at a shelter yourself, and while she's at work you can take her belongings there and change the locks. Then meet her outside your house (or leave her a phone message) and tell her that you've done so and where her new home is. I feel like if this kind of thing were even remotely necessary, you wouldn't have invited her to live with you, though.
posted by sentient at 11:45 PM on January 3, 2010


The way I see it, you have two ways to approach this:

1) She's your roommate. In that case she's an awful roommate and one of you is going to have to move out. That would be her.

2) She's your charity case/you're her mother, counselor, whatever. It sounds like she's pretty unhappy with the way she is right now, and if she was willing to be mentored by you then this could be a chance to work out her issues and learn to follow the rules of your house. That would require a lot of patience, time and sacrifice on your part. Are you willing and able to do that? If not, find somewhere she can get it.

It depends on how much you want to be involved in this woman's life.
posted by msittig at 11:47 PM on January 3, 2010


My first thought was "don't take any of her money" because then you might be bound by some kind of landlord-tenant agreement. Here in Canada a landlord can't kick a tenant out without 60 days notice or something, and not at all in the winter months. I don't know if the US has something similar.
posted by skwt at 11:52 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


This woman is an alcoholic. You did not realize that when you made the offer. It was generous and based on what you at the time maybe not a terrible thing. However, at this point, any on-going charity is enabling her to avoid the full consequences of her behaviors at your home (drunkeness, no rent, irresponsible, ungrateful, smoking etc.)

You set reasonable limits and she is completely ignoring them. You need to stand behind your own limits - a reasonable consequence for this series of behavior is losing the right to stay at your house. In other words, her own behavior is leading to her losing the nice, low-cost housing you had offered. It is not your fault that she is the way she is - she has made a very long series of choices that brought her to this place and her life will not get better until she is ready to choose to be sober and pull herself together.

If you really find it hard to leave her to her own devices, then arrange for a one or two night stay at a cheap motel (not anywhere near your home) and give her cash for a taxi to get there. Pay for the room yourself, otherwise she will probably spend the money on booze. Also go in person and pay cash she can't charge anything to the room that would end up on your credit card.
posted by metahawk at 11:55 PM on January 3, 2010


Or save your money and practice Ms. Saint's lines. (Otherwise, she is likely to keep calling you until you say "no" enough times that she believes it) I guess only follow my last paragraph if it is the only way that you can kick her out tomorrow and still sleep at night.
posted by metahawk at 11:57 PM on January 3, 2010


"...there's no reason to think she won't trash your place and/or steal you blind over the next week if she's given the slightest chance."

This. If you give her notice, don't be surprised to be missing a few things or find some other unpleasantness. If it was me, I'd call a friend or two over early in the morning and when she gets up tell her she has 20 minutes to get her stuff together and leave. I would NOT pack up her stuff beforehand (as that is just going to lead to her accusing you of stealing something, etc., and will give her a reason to keep bothering you), but that is just me.

If you feel guilty about it (though you shouldn't), maybe hand her a bus ticket to her home town or scout out a shelter that will take her.

If you want to be extra safe, type up a little notice informing her that she is no longer permitted in your place and if she returns she will be trespassing, read it to her, give it to her, and keep a copy for yourself. That way if she shows up again and you call the cops, you can show them the notice and explain how she has no reason to be bothering you at all.
posted by Menthol at 12:02 AM on January 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


Dee Xtrovert is dead right. When you kick her out (which has to be immediately) you can't trust her to move out unsupervised. You will be robbed or have a trashed apartment if you leave her to her own devices in your home after kicking her out.

She's going to play every pity card in her deck. You must not pick any of them up. Please don't feel bad for giving her the benefit of the doubt. People like this women develop quite a suite of skills for identifying and manipulating kind-hearted people. Her well-being is not your responsibility.

She's gotta go. Pack for her if you have to, have friends present and don't rule out calling in law enforcement if she refuses to leave. Your locks will need changing.

I think Xtrovert's advice to take time off work and supervise her exit is crucial. Don't let her out of your sight until she's gone and your locks have been changed.

(Good on you for recognizing the hopelessness of this situation so quickly. My last leech roommate took three months to dislodge from my apartment, and she and her friends stole a bunch of my stuff before leaving. You don't owe her anything. You don't need to figure out her next housing situation for her SHE IS NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!)

Good luck to you. Please have the mods post a followup when this situation is resolved.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:19 AM on January 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


nthing the good advice to not accept money from her. In most jurisdictions that will change the nature of your relationship from overnight guest who is taking advantage of you to tenant with rights that may make it harder to get her to leave.

And nthing the good advice not to beat up on yourself about this.
posted by gubenuj at 12:27 AM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


You made the act of charity here...now you have to live with it. What did you expect, that the person would be perfect? She's been through hell, wants to drink herself to oblivion to numb the pain...here's what you do: keep that fridge stocked with 40's. Let her stagger around and pass out. To her it's a improvement over the memories. After an unspecified length of time, she will begin to come around. Just give her the space right now. Smoking stench? You won't die. And board your cat for the duration. Now you are finding out what charity is all about, aren't you?

"What you do to the least of these, you do to me" - Jesus Christ
posted by telstar at 12:32 AM on January 4, 2010


Are you joking, telstar? That's completely absurd. Not to mention smugly condescending and holier-than-thou. She has to live with the consequences of her charity? I'm staggered. The OP has already gone above and beyond for this woman and gotten nothing but a ration of shit for their trouble. There was never an expectation of perfection, just some basic, not at all unreasonable, respect. The OP is not this woman's keeper and is in no way responsible for her.

"House guests are like fish - they begin to stink after three days." - Benjamin Franklin.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:42 AM on January 4, 2010 [32 favorites]


Telsar, even Jesus knew when enough was enough. He threw the money changers out of the temple with a whip didn't he? The OP was generous and kind and this other person took advantage. The OP needs to take care of herself and get rid of the leech. (Apologies if I'm feeding the troll.)
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:53 AM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, Telstar, can we give her your address so you can be sure to do to follow your own advice?

This leech needs to be dropped now. Her behavior is unacceptable and abusive. Tell her to pack her things, change the lock and know that she has hopefully learned a lesson that people who help shouldn't be hurt by helping.
posted by inturnaround at 1:05 AM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Settle down, telstar, there's no way I'm getting into a derail argument with you.

Let's make this easy. You think the solution here is that someone provide this woman with free room and board, allow her to smoke until that room stinks like an ashtray, provide her with booze and let her run amok for, literally, an unspecified length of time, during which they shall pay for boarding of any animals which might not get along with her attack cat. Sure sounds easy when you're telling someone else that's what they oughta do.

Maybe you and the OP ought to get in touch so that she can buy her roommate a bus ticket to your house. You can enable her all the livelong day until she (maybe, possibly) decides to get back on her feet. There, done, problem solved.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:06 AM on January 4, 2010


As ludicrous and near insulting as telstar's comments sound, upon serious reflection, I have to concede that, in fact, s/he is right. I'm reminded of Jean Valjean of Les Miserables, or the Ken Loach film Ladybird, Ladybird, both of which make the strong case that the most degenerate of us are the ones truly in need of help. If everybody 'in trouble' were in fact model citizens, they wouldn't find themselves in those situations in the first place. And, in any case, if she were truly a victim of domestic violence, the fact of her abhorrent and negligent behavior toward you doesn't change that one iota.

That said, of course, at this point, you have to protect yourself. So, yes, I too urge you to do all the prudent things that everyone else has suggested. But make no mistake -- you reached out to help someone in trouble, and now you're taking that hand back. I'm not suggesting that you continue being a doormat. But there may be other ways to stop being one than showing her that, in the end, you're just like everybody else.
posted by war wrath of wraith at 1:06 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm so sorry for your situation OP.

In the end, I think what you may be forgetting - and your roommate as well - is that people are responsible for themselves. You can't make her appreciate the opportunity and support you gave her during this difficult time. You can only offer it if you heart feels it's the right thing to do, and regretfully withdraw it when it becomes clear that she's not ready for it.

And she's not ready for it. She's not ready to respect the support you offered her. One day she might be, but not now. Instead she chose to throw away this opportunity. It's really hard to watch people make choices that self harm, but you have to let others be free to make those choices. And you have to respect the choice that they make. The same way a shelter would.

Respecting her choice - in this case to behave unacceptably - means kicking her out.

There are rules around behavior even in the most supportive DV or homeless shelters, and they stick to them pretty closely. And if people aren't willing to abide by them (say the no drugs/no drinking rule), because they do not respect themselves or others at the shelter, they are not allowed to stay. They leave. Immediately. And their spot is given to someone who is respectful of the rules. I suspect there is no conversation about where else this person can go, because that is beyond the scope of the shelter. This is no different.

nthing the get a couple of large friends, give her 20 minutes to pack, have the number to the police handy if she gets violent, watch her pack and escort her out, change the locks and avoid her calls.
posted by anitanita at 1:08 AM on January 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Definitely kick her out with no notice.

When she's at work, put all her stuff outside and change the locks. If you know what time she'll be getting back to your place, put the cat in a cat carrier outside as well, 10 minutes before the time. Make sure the cat has food, water and a warm blanket in the carrier, though.

When she starts banging on the door, call the police.
posted by hazyjane at 1:11 AM on January 4, 2010


If Jesus Christ was a b*tch who caused my pet to be repeatedly harmed, lied to me, and smoked up my apartment, I'd kick him out too. I certainly wouldn't think I could do him a favor by passively enabling his alcoholism.

OP, you made a generous choice, but that doesn't mean a near stranger's total, deliberate irresponsibility is your personal cross to bear. Take care of yourself, instead of someone who's walking all over you, and you'll be able to put much more good into the world.
posted by unsub at 1:11 AM on January 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


If everybody 'in trouble' were in fact model citizens, they wouldn't find themselves in those situations in the first place.

Precisely. Again, what were the expectations here? That the houseguest would show up all sunshine and lollipops? Sorry, but if you've been abused and then in a shelter, your psyche is in an unpredictable, probably chaotic state. Alcohol, like it or not, is this society's recognized pallative. Can you blame her for using it?

I would urge the OP not to go it alone. If possible, bring in friends to spend time with the OP and the abusee. Let the abusee know that there are those around who care, not just those who are judging and ready to eject her at the least sign of trouble. (Hey, just like the abuser and the shelter!) For those who are all "telstar, give us your addy and we'll send her there", all I can say is I been on both sides of the equation, with good and bad outcomes. But once you've made that choice to reach out to someone, if you wanna say "hey, this person is not living up to expectations", then you don't know what reaching out consists of.
posted by telstar at 1:21 AM on January 4, 2010


I wouldn't focus on this as a charitable offer. Charity means a gift with no strings. But your offer (you gave her an option to homelessness - which was kind and generous) had strings. She pays rent she can afford and goes by your rules = she has a place to stay. She isn't upholding her end of the bargain.

Given her behaviour, you shouldn't give her a week's notice. Your stuff will get trashed. She'll just have to go. Something tells me this isn't her first time doing this and I suspect it won't take her, and her cat, too long to find a new place to crash. When she's ready for help, there are pros out there that will be able to meet her needs.
posted by Salmonberry at 1:23 AM on January 4, 2010


Oh, and I think the language around whether the OP thought that the woman would be 'perfect' sort of misses the point. We're not talking about perfect. We're talking about respectful. The OP may understand behavior, and may sympathize with it, that doesn't mean she has to tolerate it.

I think that the whole thing about charity and giving is to give what you can - not what others demand of you. What is being asked for is beyond the OPs capacity. Really, beyond most people's capacity. It's not that she's an alcoholic, it's that the woman is an alcoholic who is not taking responsibility for her actions.

Finally, the OP can't control the narrative or the take away message that the woman will have when she gets kicked out.

But if the message she gets is:

"Oh yep, just another example of how people let me down. She's just as bad as the rest of them!"

rather than:

"Wow, another example of an opportunity that landed in my lap that I threw away. Why do I keep doing that?"

Then she is not. paying. attention.

Go do what you've got to do, OP. It may not feel good, but I think it's the right thing to do. Be merciful. Do it as soon as possible.
posted by anitanita at 1:25 AM on January 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


And lastly - can we stop making a 1:1 correlation between individuals who are domestic abuse survivors living in shelters with people who "Of course, drink to numb the pain and generally behave badly in an non-model citizen sort of a way"/get used to it?

That association just feels icky.

No one is blaming the woman for using using alcohol. We're just recognizing that she's not accepting that she cannot use alcohol to become repeatedly drunk AND stay in the OP's apartment. It's a choice. It may not be the kindest choice, but it is a choice, and the OP should probably accept the choice the woman made, and respond accordingly.
posted by anitanita at 1:37 AM on January 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


You've learned something about the nature of homelessness. Simple poverty is only one of its causes. The inability to live peacefully in shared housing - whether a result of mental illness, trauma, addiction or personality - is another. People become homeless when they're both too poor to pay for a home of their own, and too broken to uphold the many obligations that come with living on the kindness of others. Sharing space with others is hard - add it to a life that's already a bit of a mess and it can be impossible.

Chances are, this woman's behaviour and attitude have cost her her housing before. Unless she gets the social support services she needs, it'll cost her her housing again. She doesn't just need a bed for the night - she needs a social worker or therapist to teach her what is actually a very complex set of life skills - budgeting for rent, sharing space fairly, negotiating respectful relationships, staying reasonably sober. These are all difficult things to learn, and her housing situation will remain unstable unless she learns them. That will be the case whether you kick her out today, or next week.

You did a good thing by taking this woman into your home. Don't let people tell you you were stupid for giving a fellow human the benefit of the doubt. The world needs more people like you. But the person you're trying to help has problems that you can't solve. The chances of your single-handedly turning her life around, Eliza-Doolittle-style, are a million to one.

Do her the kindness of calling around for services that might be able to help her. In particular, look for programs like Common Ground (NYC area), which offer both accommodation and ongoing social support. Then send her on her way. And please, try not to let this experience permanently dampen your compassion towards others. You did a good thing.
posted by embrangled at 1:41 AM on January 4, 2010 [91 favorites]


Having been in a position to need the generosity of a stranger, I'm angry on the OP's behalf.

OP, you opened your home to this woman. From your description, she appears to have no respect or gratitude.

Having been in a similar position to your "roommate" but bringing children along, too, let me tell you, she's taking you for granted. When my angel gave me and my kids a place to stay after a house fire and with a lot of other drama, I cooked, cleaned, followed the deadlines given, and contributed everything I could to thank her. My angel knew I had very little money, but I did have food stamps, so I provided and made food for my family and her and her youngest daughter who was still living at home. I don't go to church, but that woman is still listed in my happy wishes list every single time she crosses my mind. She kept me and my kids out of a shelter that was not set up for children at all and had non-negotiable "you can't stay here during the day" rules, knowing I had pre-school aged children.

Your "roommate" can't even be bothered to go outside to smoke, which I do when I stay anywhere its called for, even if its raining or bitterly cold outside (proven over the Xmas holiday) and I don't complain one bit.

I took in a person for a while who exhibited the same behaviors as your "roommate." He was a vegan who complained that I didn't buy him food he could eat when I was feeding myself and the kids just fine. He had other friends who picked him up when I put the hammer down. I had my former Marine friend there to make sure it went smoothly and then I had my locks changed.

You helped this woman and her cat. I know it seems cruel to kick her out. You were very kind to take her in. It's a shame she's in a hard place. But frankly, when you are in a hard place, you have to show some gratitude. She's not doing that.

I tend to err on the kind side when it's about what people need, but this person sounds toxic. Let her find her own way, but don't let her poison you in the process.

You tried, she's not doing her part. You are still a good person.
posted by lilywing13 at 1:55 AM on January 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


For the first few weeks after I adopted a new cat, he and my existing cat were at each other all the time. But neither of them injured the other beyond more than very minor scratches (practically no bleeding). They did, however, make a huge ruckus. I ignored them, only checking to make sure they weren't really hurting each other. This is what most cats (there are the rare ones who hit it off at first) who don't know each other do when first put together.

You don't say what damage was done to your cat. Cat fights are unnerving, yes, and both cats are stressed out when they first meet. This is normal, it will pass.

As to the woman... her evasive behavior and talking back to you is uncalled for, indeed. I've known some people in her situation, though. The fact that it wasn't a boyfriend or husband could well mean it was a brother, father, uncle... This would explain why she doesn't give specifics and says she can't count on family. Also, people who experience incest have experienced betrayal at very, very deep level. Many still in the throes of the trauma and its aftermath can't imagine that anyone would sincerely be generous to them; often they'll set themselves up to be a victim again, not necessarily consciously, mind. It sounds to me like this could be a possibility; she could be thinking, "I'm a fuckup that everyone takes advantage of," ("everyone" because, shit, when it's the very people who, above all others, are supposed to protect your innocence, who else is going to look out for you? why should they? they're not related) "so might as well enjoy myself before I fuck this up too." I am not excusing her behavior. But this could be the wacked-up "reasoning" going on in her traumatized mind.

Obviously it's hard to tell. Perhaps setting an ultimatum for her could work; tell her in no uncertain terms that unless she pays her share of the rent in a week, she'll be kicked out. Yes, there is a risk she could steal your things, so do what you can to prevent that. She doesn't really sound like the destructive sort, though; more like someone possibly trying to assert themselves the only way she knows how, which is messed up. Hopefully she'll learn better, more socially-appropriate coping behaviors. Setting an ultimatum helps her: it says, "hey, you're not being responsible, and there are consequences for that," while also giving her a choice to take the right path, by keeping her word and paying her share of rent.

Have you tried talking with the shelter she was at for advice? I'm sure they've dealt with similar situations before.
posted by fraula at 1:57 AM on January 4, 2010


I am going to focus on point 4...

Jesus, you people!


What did you expect?

You've opened the door to someone with problems. Surely you thought it through?

Act 1 - you open the door to a troubled person. (keep in mind, they're going to have issues)
Act 2 - you go through the trials of helping the person.
Act 3 - you help them get back on their feet, and move them along.

If this 'person' - that's right, this human being - were a dog from a shelter, you'd all be heaping encouragement, and constructive ideas, on the poster for showing the initiative to step up.

You say that this person is "nice" when sober. You need to clearly communicate your issues and a plan for helping sort through them, when she is in this state.

If you really need help with putting together a plan, seek advice from an organisation that already has experience in this type of situation - I'm sure that NY is full of them.

If you want to validate your poorly conceived situation with others who would never take your bold step, read and heed the above advice.

Otherwise - follow through with what you initiated...
posted by a non e mouse at 1:59 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


If this situation didn't involve what my limited understand of rental law sees as a scary grey area I would advise you to be as nice as you can stand in this process, for your own feelings later, not hers now. But in this grey area I think it's best for you to act sooner rather than later.

I don't see any way that what should obviously happen isn't better and perhaps safer the more quickly the process goes once initiated. You'll be ok if you take a day or two to surreptitiously see if you can find a place for her to go I assume. Once that is done and whatever the results (whether or not you found a place for her to go) I would lie about why she has to go, no reasoned explanation why you and she make poor roommates, that would invite discussion and play into her unfortunate survival skill set (reading people's weakness). Tell her your renters, condo, whatever forbids her living there, or something else where the reason she cant' live there is not up to you. For sure, however you do this have someone else there, probably someone female or older or otherwise viewed as an unlikely physical aggressor because of issues you mentioned.

Tangentially related: The more I think about it this situation might go best if it is similar in tone and conduct to a large corporation firing an employee. It's done, nothing personal.
posted by vapidave at 2:22 AM on January 4, 2010


Most commenters are calling this person the abusee.

She may have been abused, but it strikes me that she is now, unequivocally, the abuser. And not just of your generosity.

My take on charity is that it is there, give or take, for people who can take it and turn it into something positive. It's not a bottomless font of goodwill, especially for an "amateur" charity-giver. You've gone above and beyond and it's not an unreasonable thing to call it a mistake and deal with it.

This person probably needs help, but the truth is you aren't in a position to give her the kind of help she needs. Quite the reverse. In effect, what she is doing, in common with some other people who have, themselves, been abused, is turning that abuse on someone perceived as "weaker" than herself.

Be firm, polite and put yourself in a position of strength when you evict her. Expect histrionics, pleading, promises things will change and threats, probably in that order. Accordingly, make your preparations and when the time comes to evict, do it from a position of strength so that if things get nasty you can contain the situation without anyone getting hurt.

If that sounds callous, or short termist, or selfish, it's not. Lots of abusers of all flavors and genders are themselves, in some way victims. I'm afraid this woman is not radically different. Unless you, your cat, and your apartment are equipped to get an alcoholic, physically and financially vulnerable person back on the straight and narrow time and patience will not be enough. For you or her.

And, as others have said, don't feel guilty. You didn't cause this person's problems and you aren't perpetuating them.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:25 AM on January 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


If the police are called, they'll have to make a call regarding her being a trespasser or a tenant. The police cannot evict a tenant without an eviction judgment.

One factor -- besides having all her possessions in your place and having a key -- would be if she can produce a piece of mail that she has received at that address. If it doesn't say "care of" you, you may have to evict her.

If you ask the police if you can change the locks and remove her possessions, they'll probably say no. If the lock is already changed, and her possessions are already out, will they ask you to move her stuff back in and give her a key? Probably not.

You must be very careful if you touch any of her stuff. You should treat her things as you would your own. Pack them securely and put them in a safe place where they can't be tampered with, and where she has access. That can be tricky, like a padlocked storage shed that she can open.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:27 AM on January 4, 2010


Make sure she has no access to your cat or the catfood on her way out; if she didn't care that her cat might have injured yours, she may not be above injuring your cat herself.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:30 AM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Call the DV shelter, verify that her story is, in fact, the tissue of lies it appears to be, and then chuck her out. Don't let anybody who has not allowed this person - that's right, this human being - to share their home for less time than you have tell you you've done wrong.

Some people - that's right, these human beings - are just obnoxious.
posted by flabdablet at 2:40 AM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


If it makes you feel any better, I'll just chime in and say you are in no way equipped to deal with this lady. She's an alcoholic--you will make the problem worse if you try to continue helping her because it seems you are in way over your head. Basically you wanted to help somebody who seemed like they had sprained their toe. You've found it, no, their foot actually has gangrene...

Call the shelter and find out for sure whether or not she can go back. She might be lying about being no longer qualified. Ask them to refer you to some other places she can go. Help her pack and send her there.

Tell her she is more than you can handle at the moment; and that she needs more help than you can give her.

It sounds like her maturity level is that of a child or teenager's. You will have to communicate with her in a no-nonsense and direct way. Think tough love. If you hem and haw and feel sorry for her, you will be making things worse for everybody involved.
posted by thisperon at 2:55 AM on January 4, 2010


Nthing what everyone else is saying, get her out, get her out asap, change the locks, don't accept any rent or anything else from her, don't concern yourself with her whereabouts. If it makes any of this happen more smoothly or more trouble free, have whatever you can afford (a couple hundred bucks would give her a place to stay for a night and food to eat). This isn't because you're obligated, this is because whatever gets her away from you is a worthwhile price to pay.

But I wanted to underscore the watch out for your personal safety: get a friend with you, preferably two, preferably big and male. Hit someone up at work and take them out for pizza afterward if necessary. She sounds unstable. She sounds like she might do freaking anything, hurt your possessions, hurt your cat (1), who knows?

Also wanted to underscore Dee's point, hope this doesn't ruin your generous desire to help people for others. You tried something, it went badly, next time be more careful, but wanting to help people is admirable and I hope it doesn't ruin the whole thing for you.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:04 AM on January 4, 2010


Call the DV shelter, verify that her story is, in fact, the tissue of lies it appears to be,

Disagreeing with this point -- right now, who cares? Don't get involved any further, don't put yourself in a position to get drawn in.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:06 AM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


hurt your cat (1)

That should have been an exclamation point. Too early for those tricky top row characters.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:10 AM on January 4, 2010


Some responders seem to be unclear on what the OP offered this woman. She did not agree to be her support network, to be her social worker, to get her back on her feet, to save her, to dispense unlimited charity. She offered her a place to stay, under a set of specific conditions, including that rent be paid and the rules of the house obeyed. This was an incredibly generous act. Now that the conditions anonymous laid out are plainly not being met, she has every right to revoke that offer and reclaim her own home and personal space.

Those other things, the Jesus-like effort to rehabilitate this troubled woman, are not her responsibility. It is wonderful when people do things like that for their fellow human beings, but that is not what anonymous agreed to do. She is not a homeless shelter or a social worker. It is a serious move to get fully entangled in a troubled person's life-- and this house-guest is clearly a troubled person. Not all troubled people can be saved, and giving one free reign to use and abuse your space is seldom a good way to save them.
posted by bookish at 3:11 AM on January 4, 2010 [71 favorites]


I've had similar experiences, and along with the good advice of bookish and embrangled, I will offer this. After this woman is out of your life, go volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen. You will find that there are two kinds of people. Those who are down and out and willing to follow the shelter rules, and those who work the system and attempt to get around every single rule, going from shelter to shelter and inevitably getting kicked out for breaking them. I knew a woman who was in a shelter, and per their rules, had gone job seeking. She landed a job, and immediately went to a bar to celebrate. Perfectly okay if you are living in your own place. But unfortunately, she came home to the shelter and was immediately evicted for being drunk. So she had a job, but no place to eat and shower and sleep while she was getting back on her feet.

Or the man who was raising his child alone, who it turned out he was only raising to get government money afforded to those with children, and he had a slew of abandoned children in other states who never saw a dime of support from him. He had moved from one state to another because the grapevine told him that this state was friendlier to homeless people and offered more services. He was on to every woman who felt sorry for his child and trying to move in with her.

But then there was a couple with children, who had moved across country in search of better employment, only to have their car break down and a job offer rescinded.

You did not cause this woman's problems, and there are other ways to help people besides taking them into your home, especially if they have issues you can't deal with. You can give to domestic violence shelters, either goods, food or money, you can volunteer, do walks for charity, etc. But the reason shelters have all the rules is because some people will not move forward without them. If you volunteer at one, you may find a balance between helping and overextending yourself to someone who needs a lot of social services to get back on their feet.

Also, don't listen to the guilt-inducers here, that is rubbish. The woman obviously scammed you and is still scamming you. Don't feel bad for becoming a mark, just get her out and find other ways to volunteer (as with the pets). You can't help others if you are being downtrodden in your own home.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:06 AM on January 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


A couple other posters brought up a very important point, one that I'd like to emphasize:

You offered to put her up for a week as a guest. Money for rent was neither asked nor offered. She was supposed to spend the time looking for permanent housing and saving up for a deposit.

Yes, I'm telling you to lie. And do not accept any payment or gift of any kind. I'm not sure what sort of situation triggers the usual eviction requirements, but this lie should avoid that issue entirely. Because if she becomes a tenant in the eyes of the law, you're fucked.

As a final caution, consider that she has probably been evicted before. That means she knows more about the process than you do. That should scare you.
posted by ryanrs at 4:12 AM on January 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


It sounds like she has nowhere to go for a reason... she's an inconsiderate asshole who treats people like shit. You're under no moral obligation to keep helping someone who is treating you like shit.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:01 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Also, I say this as someone who has on three separate occasions taken in homeless people to stay with me until they could get back on their feet. All of them were very considerate. So I don't agree with the whole "she was homeless, she has issues, what did you expect, now deal with it" comments -- homeless people who are genuinely just down on their luck are capable of treating hosts with respect and consideration. The woman you're describing is just an asshole.)
posted by Jacqueline at 5:09 AM on January 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


On a tiny practical note: If you kick her out first thing in the morning, she'll have all day to find a place to crash that night.
posted by shiny blue object at 5:56 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I work for an agency that helps with victims of domestic violence (I am not a counselor or a lawyer, however). We have a shelter for victims as well as other services. With this perspective in mind, I would tell you to follow the advice to have her removed from your premises quickly, to change the locks, and to have a friend with you for support. I think her behavior would cause her to be kicked out of any shelter and, based on your description, there are reasons why she may not even be eligible for a DV shelter.
posted by val5a at 6:00 AM on January 4, 2010


I want to echo Ms. Saint's early post, because I have the feeling that getting this woman out of your life may be very difficult for you to reconcile yourself to. This woman is clearly manipulating you, but she's only been able to do it because you are vulnerable to such manipulation. If you've been striving to be generous and kind, the idea of coldly kicking her to the curb probably feels terrible. If you allow the issue of her staying or going to be framed in terms of kindness vs. cruelty, you will choose "kindness," to everyone's detriment. Don't let anyone, especially your guest, frame the issue that way.

This woman's problems are far larger than you can deal with. Accommodating her as you have been is not helping her, and it's hurting you. Despite your good intentions, you've facilitated a situation that is a net loss for everyone involved. It has to end.
posted by jon1270 at 6:18 AM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Even if you don't accept any rent from her, she may have some protections as a tenant, especially if she ends up being there longer than 30 days. I am bolding that so you get that you need to do something about this very fast. If she's there longer than 30 days, the police are supposed to force you to let her back in if you change the locks. You'd have to go to housing court to evict her. There is no question that you'd be able to get her out, but she'd be living there in the meantime.

If she's savvy, she may be able to talk the police into letting her back in even if she hasn't been there 30 days. I would recommend calling a landlord/tenant attorney for a consultation. They could tell you how to do this right and save you a lot of hassle. An attorney could explain if you can/should change the locks and how to handle the police if she calls them. I could send you recommendations, but I don't really want to post them here. Maybe contact a mod?

If you don't want to go to an attorney, you could just pack up her stuff and change the locks and hope for the best. But be ready if she calls the cops--you'll need to calmly explain that she's only been there a few days, that it was temporary, that she hasn't paid rent, that she doesn't have a lease, etc.

(And personally, I wouldn't give the cat back to her. She's either going to end up on the street [bad for cat] or in a shelter [can't take cat]. Explain the situation to the Humane Society and ask them to take the cat back and find a more suitable foster placement.)

Finally, you shouldn't feel bad at all for having to kick this person out on her butt. You tried to do a good thing, and she's taking advantage of you horribly.
posted by Mavri at 6:18 AM on January 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


The greatest kindness will not bind a scoundrel.

There's an Aesop's Fable about this, because it's one of the oldest narratives of all time (see also, The Scorpion and the Frog).

You feel too guilty to kick her out....and that's exactly what's she's counting on. She will quickly dry the tears and turn vicious once it's clear your boundary is set.

This is a lesson many of us kindhearted sort learn at least once, unless we are enormously sheltered. Sadly, that very openness and giving nature can be sniffed out by some of the most predatory (whether they mean to be, or are just too broken by life to function otherwise) folks out there. Please don't feel stupid, and don't let it harden you. Feel free to MeMail.
posted by availablelight at 6:19 AM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


What a shitty situation, OP. I'm so sorry this woman's taking advantage of you. The advice given here is great, and good luck getting this woman out of your apartment. You should also be prepared for this woman to come back to your apartment after she's moved out. If you're not completely firm when you kick her out now, she may return down the road if she lands in more trouble -- either to try to leech off you again or just vent her anger on you. Don't let your strength waver if this happens.

Please send the mods a follow-up when you get this resolved. Good luck!
posted by lilac girl at 6:21 AM on January 4, 2010


Jesus, you people!

What did you expect?


Naively opening your house to a homeless stranger does NOT mean that someone is obligated to accept ANYTHING that homeless stranger does. Should Anon have expected drunkenness? Well, maybe not EXPECT it, but it shouldn't be surprising. Should Anon have expected to totally never get paid? Same thing. But all the other stuff? Seriously and disrespectfully, fuck that. I don't care how much baggage one has, if I let you into my house, be it as a guest or a tenant, I have every RIGHT to expect that you respect the rules of my house. Don't tell me that my cat should be kept in my room and your cat should get the run of the house. Don't tell me that I was drinking when I wasn't. That kind of crap will get you booted from the house, regardless of whatever kind of baggage is making you act that way.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:35 AM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


i hope you read my comment before you try throwing her out. call the cops first, then throw her out. i'm willing to bet money that if you try anything without cops around, she'll call them and then tell them that you hit her. then you're going to be in a domestic battery situation, and your problems will get much worse. there's a good chance she'll be successful in getting you arrested, and then will have your place to herself. heck, she might even get the locks changed, and a restraining order against you prohibiting your return home. don't be surprised if she trys to tell the cops that she's your girlfriend. based on your description above, this woman has already stolen something from you--you just haven't found it missing yet.

this woman isn't just a fucked-up person--she's someone who has a history of manipulating the system. you became her target, and now you're going to be the victim. in the future, remember to leave this kind of thing to the professionals. if she wasn't a friend before her troubles you should have never invited her into your home.

good luck.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 6:37 AM on January 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


Yes, please bring a friend with you for support after you change the locks and return whatever personal belongings are hers.
posted by yeti at 6:40 AM on January 4, 2010


Not sure I can add to the very sensible advice given by many upthread already, but with regards to question 4) I wanted to add a reminder that alcoholics (assuming she is one) can be amazingly manipulative, really beyond what one might expect based on dealings with non-alcoholics* ... which has three implications, in my mind:

1) It makes me think that immediate removal is even more important - giving her a week to clear out would not only give her time to steal/harm your possessions or cat, but also give her time to talk you into backing down (and lord help you if you start falling into that pattern with her),
2) It means that having a friend there when you give her the news is - again - doubly important, helping ensure not only your physical safety but also your emotional conviction that you are doing what needs to be done despite whatever she says/does/promises/threatens, and
3) It means all the more that you were not stupid in what you did and that you are no idiot. The situation was just one where you thought you could do some good for another person, not realizing that certain very fundamental assumptions about how people treat one another just don't currently seem to be part of her repertoire. I could so easily see myself doing the exact same thing as you have done - sometimes it's just impossible to believe that an act of kindness can turn out so badly, because it's so hard to predict or understand the kind of mindset that would allow a person to treat you the way she is treating you. I can't imagine she wants to be this way, but like so many have already said, that is, unfortunately, nothing that you are equipped to deal with.

(*I'm honestly not trying to claim that ALL alcoholics are this way, of course, but in my experience the ones who are prone to be manipulative ... do it very, very, VERY well.)
posted by DingoMutt at 6:44 AM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Agreeing with people who say that she needs to go, and that you shouldn't give her any notice, and that you should have the police or some other support on standby when this takes place. You are never going to be able to make her understand that she's the one with the problem. She's sealed off in a perfect bubble of victim mentality that lets her blame everyone else for her problems.

I honestly knew where this was going from the part where she gave you all the "right answers". She knew exactly what she was supposed to say. I'd say that there's a pretty good chance that she's a dangerous person for you to even know, let alone live with.

Do this today.
posted by hermitosis at 6:50 AM on January 4, 2010


1) It makes me think that immediate removal is even more important - giving her a week to clear out would not only give her time to steal/harm your possessions or cat, but also give her time to talk you into backing down (and lord help you if you start falling into that pattern with her),

And this, a THOUSAND TIMES this.
posted by hermitosis at 6:51 AM on January 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wow. Sorry about this. Scary. I would defiantely tell her she has to leave immediately. She could take your stuff. I would also file a complaint with the police--they can evict her too. I hate to sound harsh but she sounds dicey. Contact a local homeless shelter for her and offer to pay for her cab. I would get her out fast. For the cat, she has an option to take it with or find a no kill shelter for it.
posted by stormpooper at 7:00 AM on January 4, 2010


One other thing to consider, if you're having trouble working through your own kindness to do what you need to do: I sometimes find it easier to be protective of my dog's well-being than my own when I'm dealing with problematic people, since after all I've committed to taking care of her and she can't really speak up for herself; maybe it would likewise help you to remember that removing this woman would be in both your best interest AND your cat's? Even if the fights between the two cats aren't causing obvious physical injury, they still have to be stressful - not to mention the anxiety and distress that your cat is probably feeling from picking up on how stressed YOU must be. And that doesn't even touch on the second-hand smoke issue.

Just as it isn't this woman's cat's fault that his owner is treating you horribly, neither is it your cat's fault that these two individuals have come in and made life miserable for the both of you. If it were me, it would help to think about that if I started to waver.

Good luck to you, and I hope that you will give us all an update via a mod to let us know that things have worked out and that you're okay.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:14 AM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


This is outrageous! You must not continue one more day with this, seriously!!!

When she leaves the house call your biggest most supportive friend, call a locksmith and get her stuff out ASAP.

You don't owe her anything and she's being an awful manipulative bad bad person. This is not your fault. We can even probably say it isn't her fault either, but that's not the immediate concern.

You need to get her out of YOUR home, right now....

Do not listen to anything she says, there is NO REASON EVER that you should let her stay, and if that makes you a "bad person", WHO CARES. She will try and guilt trip you and who knows what else, but the is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON you should let her stay one more night in your home.

None.
Even if she has to sleep on the street.
Seriously.

I'm being a bit harsh, but you can read above for all the nice ways to get to the same conclusion, (as well as find help on where to direct her and exactly what to say).
posted by smartypantz at 7:17 AM on January 4, 2010


Get your biggest, strongest friends.
Call a locksmith.
Put her shit outside.
Change the locks.
Call the cops and file a report if she doesn't go quietly.

DO NOT GIVE HER TIME TO KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON!

She will destroy your property, try to weasel her way into staying, or may physically hurt you.

Get her out. Get her out now.
posted by dejah420 at 7:17 AM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Lester's sock puppet makes a good point. Call the cops AS you're throwing her shit out. Otherwise she might do what he says and get you locked out of your own house. Scary.
posted by dejah420 at 7:20 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I believe from a situation that another NYC friend went through, if she lives there for more than three weeks, she will have renters rights (whether she has paid or not). You really have to get her out before that happens, and your local police precinct may have advice or be able to help.
posted by kimdog at 7:22 AM on January 4, 2010


I just wanted to chime in to say that you wi8ll not be helping her by letting her walk all over you. This women needs to work on being responsible and considerate to others. Consider breaking all ties with this women tough love. She will get nowhere if you encourage this type of behaviour.
posted by Gor-ella at 7:25 AM on January 4, 2010


You might have already begun the kick-out process, but if not, is there somewhere safe your cat could stay until this is all under control? Like with a friend, or even at the shelter you volunteer at? Hopefully this woman's sane enough that she wouldn't hurt an animal, but I wouldn't take the chance.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:26 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am so sorry that a very genuine and generous act of kindness has gone so horribly wrong. I hope you don't beat yourself up over this or take away from this experience a sense of mistrust of your own kind impulses or people's ability to accept kindness.

All of that said, whatever you do, please do not give her any advance warning. She can cause an extraordinary amount of damage to you, your possessions, your pets, and your home in a relatively short time. Not to be alarmist, but she has shown a general disregard for you health (the smoking inside, against your wishes), some visible contempt (among other things, the snide how will I afford food remark), and has proven to be unpredictable (pretty much everything she has done). Have a friend or family member (or two) with you, have a locksmith standing by, and do not leave her alone in your home. Do it as soon as possible, so you don't become further entrenched in what has rapidly become a toxic situation.

I understand the impulse to line up someplace for her to live, but it's not your responsibility. If it would really make you feel better, could you contact a local homeless shelter and secure her a bed for the night? As I understand it, guaranteeing anyone a bed is not something shelters do as a normal practice, but a sympathetic staff member may be willing to make an exception this one time. Regardless of whether that attempt is successful, your obligation has ended there. You have gone above and beyond, but now it's to your detriment, and no one expects you to sacrifice your well-being for someone who, for whatever reasons, is incapable of accepting help and respecting boundaries. Best of luck!
posted by katemcd at 7:33 AM on January 4, 2010


ryanrs: "A couple other posters brought up a very important point, one that I'd like to emphasize:

You offered to put her up for a week as a guest. Money for rent was neither asked nor offered. She was supposed to spend the time looking for permanent housing and saving up for a deposit.

Yes, I'm telling you to lie. And do not accept any payment or gift of any kind. I'm not sure what sort of situation triggers the usual eviction requirements, but this lie should avoid that issue entirely. Because if she becomes a tenant in the eyes of the law, you're fucked.

As a final caution, consider that she has probably been evicted before. That means she knows more about the process than you do. That should scare you.
"

I just wanted to reiterate this...this is very important if you're in any area with a strong renter's rights legislation.
posted by dejah420 at 7:35 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


This reminded me of all the dysfunctional relationship questions I read over the years here. The OP feels guilty for getting involved with this woman. What would some people say if the abuser in question was a boyfriend "You got involved, now you pay"? I hope that some people see the bad message that sends. Even though its not a romantic relationship, its still a relationship. If she broke the rules and is abusing you, she goes. Thats that, end of story, you cant fix her, but you can fix your situation.
posted by wheelieman at 7:35 AM on January 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


In all capitals, in case you haven't been paying attention to the nearly unanimous choir:

KICK HER OUT TODAY.

Especially if there's a time limits before renters' rights might kick in. Look, I've been on the side of needing housing charity and let me tell you, I never even THOUGHT of acting in the way she has. There is NO excuse.
posted by Windigo at 7:36 AM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I give you credit for thinking that this situation might have worked out. And it might have, if only she had been smarter. Protect yourself.

I'm seconding that you please update us.
posted by marimeko at 7:37 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Get her out now. Today. You never offered to let her stay with you on a long-term basis, got it? You let her crash for a few nights and now she refuses to leave. This is what you are telling the police. Get your friends over there, get your cat somewhere safe for the day, call the police, and a locksmith, and get her out. Let your landlord and the police know that she is not welcome in the building. Do it today. Right now. The longer she stays, the longer she is likely to stay.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:41 AM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


My two cents:


(1) If you have ANYTHING of significant value in the house, get it out NOW. Credit cards, checkbooks, your passport/birth certificate/social security card/other ID that could be used for identity theft, cash, jewelry, laptop, iPhone, etc. Heck, if you have a TV and gaming console, get those over to a friend's house on the grounds that you promised to loan them out for a Wii gaming party or something.

Bottom line--if she can steal it and sell it/pawn it for good money, get it out and over to a friend's until she's gone. The others are right: given the behavior you've described, smart money says she'll rob you blind and/or trash your place when you throw her out.


(2) Lawyer up. Even without a rental agreement or you having taken payment from this woman, she may still have some tenant rights (see Mavri's post), so don't assume you can just kick her out. The advice given bu others about lying is well-intentioned, but impractical because you mentioned you asked around about her before letting her move in. If other people know you were planning on having her as a paying roommate, this woman might be able to scare them up as witnesses. Get with an attorney and discuss the situation first before you attempt to throw her out.


(3) Get the woman out of the house as early as the attorney advises. Be there to supervise her packing--and don't do that alone, have a good friend with you (or even better, multiple friends). Have a locksmith there changing the locks while she's gathering her things.


(4) Prepare yourself emotionally to be manipulated. There is no creature on earth more manipulative than a an addict, and once this woman realizes you're serious about throwing her out, she's going to lie like a hooked rug. She'll talk about how she has no money, no friends, no place to go, can't go back to the shelter, etc. She'll throw in new stuff, too: she's been dealing with the aftermath of past abuse, she's just found out her cancer's come back, she's acted the way she has because she's off her very expensive anti-depressant medication that she can't afford, she's been sending money to her ailing mother/father/kids, etc. If she's as good a liar as most alcoholics, she's be sure to mix in a generous dose of truth as well.

And when it looks like you're not going to cave in, she'll get really mad and call you everything but a child of God, bring up everything you ever did that could possibly be interpreted as offensive, and turn it all on you, how this is all somehow your fault, and who the hell do you think you are, anyway?


To deal with this: DO. NOT. ENGAGE. Do not address anything she says. Fall back on Ms. Manner's favorite phrase for refusing to discuss something: "I'm sorry, but it's impossible". Use it with what my old boss from my old customer service job used to call The Broken Record Technique--repeat, repeat, repeat the same phrase over and over, no matter what they say, until it sinks in:

"But I have no place to go!"
"I'm sorry, but it's impossible for you to stay here any longer. You have to be out by four o'clock."
"Look, I have the back rent money right here. If you can just--"
"I'm sorry, but it's impossible for you to stay here any longer. You have to be out by four o'clock."
"Can't we at least talk about this?"
"I'm sorry, but it's impossible for you to stay here any longer. You have to be out by four o'clock."
"What am I supposed to do?"
"I'm sorry, but it's impossible for you to stay here any longer. You have to be out by four o'clock."
"WHY?!"
"Because it's impossible for you to stay here any longer. You have to be out by four o'clock."

To anything she says: ""I'm sorry, but it's impossible for you to stay here any longer. You have to be out by X time." Any other answer opens the door to her manipulating you.



Finally:

You are a wonderful, unbelievably generous person. You opened your home to a stranger in need, and did everything you could to accomodate her. Yours was a true act of Christian charity, and it warms my heart to know that people like you are out there.

But here's the bottom line: the kind of help this woman needs is much more than you can provide. IANATherapist, but from everything you describe your roommate is an alcoholic, one that's pretty deep in the grip of the disease, too. Getting her on the road to recovery will take a serious investment of time, patience, and therapy.

From everything you describe, you are not in a position to make that kind of investment. That doesn't mean that you are a bad person or have failed this woman like Telstar and a non e mouse are suggesting--you simply thought she needed one type of support when in fact, she needs another.

Please follow the advice in embrangled's post and see if you can find an organization that can give your roommate the support that she really needs. Check out your local United Way, a lot of times they can direct you. If you can find such a group, talk to them about your situation and see if you can get your rommate signed up with them before you evict. If not, at least give the roommate the phone #s she needs to contact them when she leaves.


Thank you. Thank you so much for caring enough to reach out and try to help. I know your soon-to-be ex-roomie won't say it to you (at least, not at this point in her life), so on her behalf I will.
posted by magstheaxe at 7:42 AM on January 4, 2010 [33 favorites]


As so many have said: kick out, no notice, change locks. My answer is regarding your fourth question about general advice.

My bet is that she was booted from the DV shelter for the same reason that you are giving her the boot - she couldn't follow the rules of common courtesy in shared space. The shelter is much more prepared to deal with someone in her situation than you are. Shelter staff have experience, access to whatever support agencies are available and a structured shelter environment. You don't have any of that. You're one person who tried to do a good turn for another and it didn't work out this time.

The most important thing to note is it didn't work out this time. Don't let one person who wasn't able to constructively accept help turn you against helping others. Letting people move in with you probably isn't a good idea, but you can still be a charitable, loving person toward people who need a hand. Don't let this person steal your willingness to offer aid and kindness.
posted by 26.2 at 7:44 AM on January 4, 2010


Call the DV shelter, verify that her story is, in fact, the tissue of lies it appears to be

DV is not going to discuss *anything* about this person with you, including whether she was ever there in the first place.

All the good advice has already been given, I'll just repeat for emphasis that you should absolutely assume the place will be trashed and/or robbed if you leave her alone in it once you tell her she has to go.

But I'd like to add: actions can be "extraordinarily kind" and a terrible, terrible idea. No, you don't deserve to be trashed, but I wonder if the folks who are lauding your heart of gold would agree that you really set yourself up for a disaster. I can't muster up too much outrage over this person's actions because, well, I could see all of it coming a mile away. I know the folks who run our local DV shelter (girlfriend volunteers there, I've done a small amount of volunteering for them for holidays), and I can guarantee that while most of them have hearts of gold too, they would have all joined in unison to loudly proclaim DO NOT DO THIS, IT WILL END IN TEARS.
posted by the bricabrac man at 7:47 AM on January 4, 2010


I'm really very sorry about your situation.

Please, consult a landlord-tenant lawyer. Don't take the advice on the internet.
posted by yarly at 8:09 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Especially since you say you have a "decent income," there's absolutely no reason not to consult a lawyer about this. You really may be digging yourself in deeper if you don't get timely advice. The internet is not for legal advice; that's what lawyers are for.
posted by yarly at 8:12 AM on January 4, 2010


Sorry to see this happening to you.

I've been in a situation where I had to help a friend kick someone out of their place.
It wasn't easy, but it was the right thing to do.
Dee Xtrovert is right. Do what she recommends, it'll do less damage to both you and her. Good luck.
posted by motdiem2 at 8:43 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're a sucker. Don't continue to be a sucker. Kick her out and change the locks today. I can't stress that enough; if you give her a week, she'll steal your stuff. Have a friend or friends come over, kick her out and change the locks today.
posted by spaltavian at 8:53 AM on January 4, 2010


Get her out of your house, as everyone has said.

If you feel guilty, prepay a local hotel or motel for a week's lodging for her (as long as you're prepared to pay extra for the damage and theft that will undoubtedly ensue). If you do this, make sure that the people at the hotel understand how important it is that she have no access to your credit card information.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:13 AM on January 4, 2010


Slightly offtopic, but do you know about the locksmith scam?

Summary: don't use the yellow pages to find a locksmith. There is an organized ring of scammers that place dozens of listing in the yellow pages for A1 Locksmith, AAA Locksmith, A+ Locksmith, etc. Go to a physical locksmith storefront. I'm not sure if the scammers are gaming Yelp, so that might be ok (be sure to check a reviewer's other reviews to uncover shills).
posted by ryanrs at 9:24 AM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


(IANYL) Seconding that you consult a lawyer immediately, if you're concerned about doing things properly. The law will depend on where you're located. (I can't recommend that you go with the lying route others suggested, but admittedly it would be a rational option in this situation. Consider that there's a threat of physical violence to you if you were to give her even a 3 days' notice.)

Something else to consider: if she in any way does damage to the place, YOU'RE the one who will be held responsible, as the person who signed the lease. This should be another incentive to get her out before anything worse happens. And anything worse will happen.
posted by naju at 10:25 AM on January 4, 2010


Worthwhile add:

DO NOT feel guilty. DO NOT. Guilt is the wage that pays for her beer. I guarantee you that she's done this to other people. She's a serial mooch.
posted by Citrus at 11:05 AM on January 4, 2010


Is moving an option? Tell her you gave 30 days notice and pretend to pack. Move, if you have to.
posted by anniecat at 11:13 AM on January 4, 2010


I'd say you need to get her out of there as soon as possible - and don't let on at all that you are making preparations to get her kicked out. See a locksmith (storefront to avoid the scammers). Have a cab waiting outside. Tell her that its time she left and offer her two to three nights at a motel that is somewhat distant so she can get things in order as far as living arrangements.

Have the cab take her to either the motel or the location of her choice. She may have somewhere else she can go but will likely reveal this only to the cab driver. Change the locks. Bonus points if the locksmith is a burly man who can be present when the women has to leave. Be prepared to call the police.

Pay for the hotel for two or three days only - this is ample time for her to get her situation in order. Make the situation clear to the inn keeper and pre-pay for the room to avoid any charges incurred by damages.

Do this entire procedure early(ish) in the morning so that you have plenty of daylight to get her out.
posted by verapamil at 11:59 AM on January 4, 2010


Also, consult a lawyer first and change your residence within 6 months after she is gone.
posted by verapamil at 12:02 PM on January 4, 2010


Please update the thread on how this went, memail the mods. This is interesting.
posted by geoff. at 12:29 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I pulled a similarly foolhardy move once, giving some 'destitute' kid I hardly knew a room in my place so he could get his legs under him. He showed his gratitude by eating all my protein powder, doing four loads of laundry a day (though he only had a backpack-full of clothes), drinking all my beer and playing my PS2 all day instead of looking for a job. Then he made a pass at my girlfriend and asked me for $900 so he could start a bank account. Heh.

Some people are just screwed up like that; they can't see how their own behavior hobbles them, and they refuse to take responsibility for themselves. You tried to do this woman a good turn, but the fact of the matter is that there are people for whom no amount of helping hands or good will can do anything; for whatever reason they have decided they'd rather allow themselves to be buffeted along by the rapids of casual circumstance than do anything to help themselves.

NONE of this woman's issues are your responsibility. You have no obligation to her at all, and in fact the only responsibility you have here is to yourself; you must not allow this person to drag you (or your poor cat) in to her doomed whirlpool. Make no mistake, a drowning person will grab you and pull you down as well in an effort to keep themselves alive, if they can. Don't let your compassionate hand become your own anchor.

It is your place - make her leave it. Invite over a couple of your stout man-friends for back-up and confront this woman with as much tact as you can muster. Make her give you her keys, make her move her stuff out while you watch, expect no money from her, but be glad she's out and change your locks as soon as she's out of your sight. Don't fall for the inevitable sob-story or promises of reform - she's had her chance and she blew it and that's nobody's fault but hers. You showed admirable (excessive?) compassion by inviting her into your home in the first place; that is much more than most reasonable people would even consider, let alone offer. No matter what she says, she's acted in an ugly manner: challenging you in slurred tones about your drinking? It's your place! Telling you to restrain your cat? What the hell is she even doing with a cat if she can't even provide a place for herself? Smoking when you asked her not to? She is a guest in your home and as such needs to follow your rules. Any single one of the things that you've related that she's done is a deal breaker; in concert, they justify nothing less that a kick in the ass and a 'get-the-fuck-out-of-my-home'.

Good luck with this. It's shiftless flotsam like this woman that harden us against the truly needy, and that's her worst offense, IMHO.
posted by Pecinpah at 12:39 PM on January 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


(1) I have to kick her out, right? Do I have another option here?
No, you really don't have any other options. She must go.

(2) When I kick her out, how do I do this? Do I just switch out the locks then tell her or give her a week to vacate?
Change the locks. Don't give her time to trash your place, or steal, or have her friends move in, or establish tenancy. If she refuses to leave, call the cops.

(3) Do I have an obligation to help her find some other place to be?
No

(4) Any other general advice in regards to this situation would be greatly appreciated.
Don't let her bully you and don't feel guilty.
posted by vespabelle at 12:53 PM on January 4, 2010


do not do not do not follow though on the "put her up in a hotel on your own credit card" suggestion more than one poster has suggested. I can just about guarantee you that you will end up billed for damages left behind.
posted by availablelight at 1:23 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Or she'll just live at the hotel until the card is maxed out.
posted by ryanrs at 1:49 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


You've had many good suggestions. I have just two more to add:

1) She's done this scam before, that's a certainty. Assume that a key is at this point not her only available method of entry. As soon as she's gone, inspect all the windows, sliding doors, etc. At the hardware store, for a couple bucks each you can get secondary locks to put on all of them. Do that, definitely. Then consider other ways she could gain entry. Is there any doorman, bldg manager, or neighbor who would recognize her as a guest in your home? They must be notified not to allow her back in no matter how good the sob story. Is there anything lying around outside that could be used to gain entry (e.g. by climbing, smashing, etc.) or vandalize? If any exterior lights are available, make sure all bulbs are working and keep them blazing at night until the dust settles.

2) Do not oblige yourself further in any way. Make no offers, no promises, accept no deals, extend no handouts. Any of this is just re-engaging. You never agreed to pay for hotel lodging. To do so now would just suggest (to her) guilty conscience and further room for manipulation and (to police and courts) some kind of ongoing agreement or relationship. Further kindnesses now can only extend the drama. Make a clean decisive break. You have given extraordinarily generously. Stop now.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:40 PM on January 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


You've got to get her out...

However, be careful about how you do this. Dumping this woman's stuff in the middle of the street or harshly throwing her out could end badly. She could toss a brick through your window or violently attack you sometime.

I would do whatever you can to end things amiably. In fact, I would just state that the cigarettes have made you violently ill, that you feel terrible, but you're going to have to put her up somewhere for a month. Pay for a month's rent at the YWCA or something. Set up stay at some program after. You may even want to give her a couple hundred bucks. You don't owe her this, but I think in terms of grief and potential headaches this could be the cheapest solution for you. I learned this lesson with a tenant I rented to who turned out to be a drug dealer. Best money I ever spent (though it killed me to do it) was to him to leave.

On the flip side, I don't think you have any other choice but to pack her things while she is out, have a strong friend nearby, call a cab, and explain all this to her when she returns. Don't let her into the apartment. If the police are called, lie as others suggest above. I'm even worried that if you admit she stayed the night as a guest she may have tenants' rights.

You can't even smoke in bars these days, so I don't know what she's thinking smoking in your house. Suggesting you keep your cat in your room - outrageous! Anyway, my advice boils down to trying as much as possible to keep kicking her out a civil, even friendly experience, so that she doesn't psycho-stalk you.
posted by xammerboy at 3:05 PM on January 4, 2010


Also, please give an update if you can so that we know how everything turns out.
posted by hermitosis at 3:09 PM on January 4, 2010


on preview, nakedcodemonkey may be right. In my situation, it would have taken four months to even get to court to kick my tenant out. Every time I tried suggesting something, like why don't you stay in the basement apartment and not interact with anyone else, etc. the tenant would take maximum leverage, such as moving into the basement apartment AND his old room and claiming that was the agreement, etc. Just be careful, and protect yourself.
posted by xammerboy at 3:10 PM on January 4, 2010


Oh yeah, one nice trick of my old tenant's you should watch out for is that she may try installing locks onto her room and / or changing the locks to your own place.
posted by xammerboy at 3:11 PM on January 4, 2010


Agree with the kick her out advice. Have a big, calm, friend there - think bouncer at a club. Someone who is not going to get all emotional and into a screaming brawl. You can even call the police preemptively. I'm not from NY, but everywhere I've been, the PD is willing to do that.

One thing I'd like to point out - not as a criticism, but maybe as a "lessons learned" kind of debrief: This woman knew pretty early on that she could push you. How? She tested you. Two day notice before moving in on some of that stuff and you didn't react? Not pressing her for the money? Probably the biggest of all: when she smoked in your house you did not immediately make her stop. "You may not smoke in my house. Stop now or you can take your stuff and leave." Instead, it sounds like you just went around all pissed off but wouldn't confront her. Don't think she didn't observe that and take some meaning from it.

I think, even if you let her stay which is a bad idea, you need to sit her down and put out the rules. Tell her you feel she has been either intentionally disrespectful to you or didn't understand something. You will not smoke in my house, ever. You will pay me 200 dollars every friday. You will not drink in my house, at all. No friends over. etc. OR ELSE, you are not welcome here. Do you understand? Do you agree to that?

And good advice to secure your personally identifying information and valuables.
posted by ctmf at 3:26 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'll just repeat for emphasis that you should absolutely assume the place will be trashed and/or robbed if you leave her alone in it once you tell her she has to go.
posted by mediareport at 3:31 PM on January 4, 2010


She has not lived in your dwelling long enough to have any renter's rights so you do not need to get a lawyer as someone suggested. Since you are in New York, here is the law stating this.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:42 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh and it also means you don't need to lie to anyone. She has no rights whatsoever, kick her out TONIGHT.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:45 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


"If you ask the police if you can change the locks and remove her possessions, they'll probably say no. If the lock is already changed, and her possessions are already out, will they ask you to move her stuff back in and give her a key? Probably not.

"You must be very careful if you touch any of her stuff. You should treat her things as you would your own. Pack them securely and put them in a safe place where they can't be tampered with, and where she has access. That can be tricky, like a padlocked storage shed that she can open."


Unfortunately, I've been on the "kicked-out" side of this story once, and I want to address some of the things that people have been suggesting here.

(No, I was not behaving like the woman living with the OP. In this case, I moved in with some friends, and one of them -- egged on by her sister -- got the idea in her head that I was going after her husband. Which was very, very strange since I wasn't even attracted to him, though we were friends. I had no idea she was thinking this, but things got weirdly tense for a couple of days, then I came home in the dark one evening to find my stuff sitting out in the rain -- including my new Mac -- and the sister standing there looking very triumphant. I was completely blindsided. The woman I had moved in with had had a very difficult situation earlier that year and might have had some emotional fallout stemming from it that contributed to her belief that I was doing something I wasn't. But I don't know.)

Do not put the person's stuff outside in the weather, or even inside in an unsecured area. When this happened to me, I called the police and they showed up and said that my stuff had to be moved back inside, pronto, because the folks kicking me out were not allowed to endanger my belongings like this. I would be able to press charges, apparently, if my things were ruined or stolen. (I suppose evictions are different. This was not a legal eviction.) So when you say "If the lock is already changed, and her possessions are already out, will they ask you to move her stuff back in and give her a key?" I should say that in my personal experience, they might. I think I was only in that house for a couple of weeks, but maybe it was a month.

This was a long time ago (1988, yikes!), so I am a little bit fuzzy on the rest of the details -- but I think that the cops told her that me moving out was a civil issue and would have to be forced via a civil case, not by the police. The criminal issue the police could deal with was the damage to my things, basically. I'm not sure. What I am sure about is that they told her she could not force me to leave that night, under the circumstances. They told me this, too, and that I could stay for a while. The woman who lived there got a hotel room for the night because she was so angry and still believed I had violated her trust. I knew that there was no reason I should want to stay in her house any longer than necessary under the circumstances, so I think I basically stayed there that night -- alone (at least she trusted me enough to know I wouldn't trash the place or steal -- we had been friends for a while and had also lived together briefly previously) -- and got everything out as fast as I could the next morning, and left the key on the table.

Now, it doesn't sound as if you are accusing this woman of made-up crimes, so it's not really analogous to my situation. I believe you should ask her to leave now, not in a week. I don't really have a lot of sympathy for her -- the smoking alone would be a deal-breaker for me. But -- what I am saying is that you cannot just put her stuff on the sidewalk where it will be stolen. Besides the potential liability, I would have at least that much compassion for her because she's clearly messed up and has lost a lot. Even if she is actually a user and manipulator -- don't cause her to lose the belongings she still has.

You do not have a prior friendship with this woman so you really don't know her well enough to know how she will react. This makes it a lot more difficult. She might meekly leave immediately. She might stand her ground. She might call the cops and lie about DV as someone mentioned above. You don't really know, and it makes it very difficult to suggest how to handle this. But I would definitely have support there with you. Be firm, but as kind as you can be, under the circumstances. (Offer to help pack, for example. And someone suggested paying for a hotel room for her to move into for a few days. If you can swing that, it might help. It might be a small price to pay to get your peace of mind back.)

I was once on the other side of the equation, too -- I offered to put someone up who needed somewhere to stay, and it became bad news really fast. I can't remember how I got her out, though! I do sympathize with the OP.
posted by litlnemo at 4:04 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


She's going to play every pity card in her deck. You must not pick any of them up. Please don't feel bad for giving her the benefit of the doubt. People like this women develop quite a suite of skills for identifying and manipulating kind-hearted people. Her well-being is not your responsibility.

This is absolutely right. Do not let her make her problems into your problems.
posted by jayder at 4:32 PM on January 4, 2010


(1) I have to kick her out, right? Do I have another option here?

No.



(2) When I kick her out, how do I do this? She has keys to the place. Do I just switch out the doorlocks then tell her or give her a week to vacate?

As so many others have said: Do not give her a week. Before you say a word to her, choose the date and time that work best for you, even if it's right when she comes home from work. (HAVE BACK-UP PRESENT!)



(3) Do I have an obligation to help her find some other place to be?

No. You're returning things to status quo ante, before you took in her cat. If you'd never met her, she'd have figured out something else.



(4) Any other general advice in regards to this situation would be greatly appreciated.

I love your open-heartedness and I hope this experience doesn't slam everything shut. The lesson to learn isn't DON'T DO IT as much as THINK ABOUT IT.

I'd send this in MeMail but since I can't:

For about nine months, a weird time when I was traveling a lot for work, a homeless woman and her flotilla of pekingese stayed in my studio apartment when I was gone. I knew Chris from the dog run and it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that she was ALWAYS there because she had no place else to go. My immediate impulse was to let her stay at my place—but before I offered, I waited a few weeks. Chris and I talked, among other things, about drinking and smoking and she professed abstinence in word and deed; I talked to other dog-run denizens who knew her and considered her difficult but harmless; I watched her take impeccable care of her dogs. So I offered.

Several of my friends thought I was insane but everything was fine, as I expected. The only drag was she couldn't dogsit for me because my 90-pound pooch was freaked the fuck out by all those small hairy doggish creatures. (Srsly. He'd hide in the bathroom shaking until they were gone.) Otherwise, Chris was an ideal guest. Once she left a pair of pekingese-shaped S&P shakers. That fall a few dog-run friends teamed up and found Chris a place upstate and hooked her up with a social worker—because it was very, very clear that she needed help far past what any of us could provide.

Before I talked to Chris, I thought about it long and hard, the potential costs to me and the immediate benefits to her. I knew her reasonably well. And I took a leap of faith. I've never, ever regretted it.
posted by dogrose at 4:45 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


meta
posted by yarly at 4:53 PM on January 4, 2010


follow-up from the OP
Okay, here's my not-yet-complete follow-up:

To all except the nuts who think I should be responsible for this woman: Thank you for the responses. I genuinely appreciate those who have confirmed that my course of action involves evicting this woman as soon as possible. Evicting is the incorrect word: I am not a landlord; I rent from a landlord; she is a house guest and hasn't signed any kind of agreement with me or with my landlord. Part of my original deal with her was: "This might not be for a long time; I haven't lived with anyone else for six years and I might not be able to handle this."

You see, I knew, going into this situation, that things could go two ways: (1) sunshine and greatness, she gets back on her feet and has a decent future ahead; or (2) piss and vinegar, right to hell in a hand basket. Before I made the offer to let her move in, I met her several times, asked the Humane Society folks about her and considered what I was doing. I knew I'd feel like an idiot if things went south, so I really thought about this and all the ways it could go horribly wrong (that she was an alcoholic/drug user was one of those scenarios). I determined ahead of time that I would not allow her problems to become my problems.*

I've been in an abusive situation before, which is why she had my sympathies from the beginning. But, thanks to that situation, I'm pretty knowledgeable about how abusers work. This woman might be a domestic violence victim; I have no evidence to show otherwise nor do I care to delve into that anymore than I already have. I've felt as much pity for her as I'm ever going to. The past three nights have cured me of feeling sorry for the bad hand she's been dealt. I didn't deal those cards and I'm not helping her to play them.

Indeed, the past three nights have shown me that she learned from her abuser(s): She's sunshine and roses then suddenly darkly mean and mildly threatening (which would work better if I were in a truly weak position) then she's apologizing and sunshine and roses again. This evening, I came home to find an apology note on my desk; she was sorry she gave me "pause for concern". She's being ultra-nice (cooked dinner for me, even!) and is following the rules I set out. I expect that this won't last for very long nor do I wish to find out when the tide will turn again.

I did not kick her out this morning (1-4). The place where I work was starting a new project and there was no way I could call out and stay employed. For this reason, she has a reprieve here until Saturday morning. Plans are already in place for Security Dudes to come and back me up while a friend and I help her pack and get her stuff out. There will be no notice. I will provide her with a cab to her storage facility where she can stow her stuff and then go find a shelter. The Saturday plans will happen unless I come home to find her drunk again - if that happens, she's out that night, right then. I talked with a friend who is an outreach mental health professional at the local hospital; she assured me that if I call for the police to help me kick her out, the police will take her to a shelter for the night. (Yes, my friend now wants to talk to me about my seemingly self-destructive urge to be generous to a fault.)

During my sleepless night last night, I turned over several conversations I had with my house guest and fit certain pieces into a coherent context that included her drunkenness as a piece. Based upon conversations, she used to have a great life, lots of money, etc., then *something* happened. Before realizing that she is an alcoholic, I was missing the *something* piece in the puzzle and didn't understand the downturn in her life. Now I get it and I'm not going to act as a plateau in her downward slide. As so many pointed out, I wouldn't be doing her any favors and I'd be endangering myself, my life and everything I have.

To those who attempted to give legal advice: Thanks but totally not necessary. She has no legal right to be in my apartment if I say she has no right. Nothing has created any kind of tenant rights for her. I have no need to lie to anyone about how or why she's here.

To those who implied that cat fights aren't a big deal: (1) There are neighbors to consider; loud feline screaming is annoying. (2) There is my sleep to consider: being woken by feline screaming is scary and causes sleepless nights. (3) The feline screaming wasn't the only harm. My cat has been to the vet for treatment of a large gash on her leg from the other cat. She is also stressed to the point that I can see her health taking a turn for the worse. She isn't eating or drinking enough. This is not acceptable.

I will update again once this woman is out of my house, just so no one is left hanging, curious about whether knives or fisticuffs were involved.

Again, thanks everyone. I needed the written kick-in-the-head to get my thoughts straight.

* So why was I such a ninny last night? Because I kept trying to give her the benefit of the doubt and because I was being unduly harsh with myself ("Maybe I just want her out because I'm an awful curmudgeon of a hermit and can't share my space"; even if that were the only reason I had, it's still a valid reason to kick her out). After a night of zero sleep, I realized: she has got to go.
posted by jessamyn at 6:17 PM on January 4, 2010 [18 favorites]


and a comment from a user who would prefer to remain anonymous
Please listen to the people telling you to get her out now. Try to get two strong people to help you with this -- not just physically strong, but people who won't be easily manipulated by this person. Bar bouncers would be ideal for this.

I've let homeless people stay with me twice, and I've also tried to give someone a chance to have a "hand up" instead of a "hand out" in a more involved way. When she realized she had messed up this chance and was not going to be helped by me any longer, she got very angry and did several things that could have easily ''accidentally'' injured or killed me if I had not been quick and paying close attention, and set fire to some trash she stacked near a building on a windy day.

It's not just about her hurting your cat or stealing. Your physical safety is important, these people telling you to let her stay wont be the ones hurt if it all goes pretzel shaped. This woman is not acting rationally, and won't behave rationally when you stop being so easily manipulated by her.

Do not let her back in when she comes back. Don't discuss this with her, don't even open the door. Get a photo of her so you can show it to anyone who tells you about a strange woman loitering by your apartment. Tell anyone who might let her into the building that she is not allowed there, and show them the photo.
posted by jessamyn at 6:25 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I haven't dealt with this sort of situation particularly (homeless musician I put up for a night or two was nice and left gently afterwards with zero drama), but I just wanted to post that you might want to videotape your informing her she has to leave and the very cordial escort she will have out of your property. One of the burly fellows can wield the camera, perhaps. This way she won't have a leg to stand on if she later wants to claim you threatened her, or broke her stuff.

Even if she gives you the key back, definitely get the locks changed. Someone like her would probably have made a copy without telling you.
posted by marble at 7:09 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


You got conned. I would call the shelter she was staying at and explain the situation and ask for any suggestions they might have (they won't be able to disclose any information about her but someone might have a workaround), and also contact the police. Definitely, definitely change the locks. Don't even BOTHER to be nice about it, and you might just want to change passwords, etc. too just in case.
posted by medea42 at 7:49 PM on January 4, 2010


Good to hear you are going to give her the boot. But Saturday is a long time away. I would be VERY wary every time I left the apartment with her there, ESPECIALLY if she somehow gets wind of her imminent booting. Even if you don't say a word, it's possible she could glean it from your face, body language, words unsaid, etc.

Why not plan it all for after work the next possible night, like tonight or tomorrow night? The whole ordeal may take few hours, but better to lose half a night's sleep than live with her for another 5 or so days. And if she's "out if she gets drunk," then why not put that plan into action tonight? No matter how she's acting. If she's in a good, cheerful mood like you say, it will be hard for you to do and she will feel hurt. (I have no idea if this woman is the sociopath everyone seems to think, so I'll assume she has at least some feelings.) Don't let that get to you, though--as Michael Biehn once said, stay frosty.
posted by zardoz at 8:22 PM on January 4, 2010


Don't let her manipulate her way into staying longer than Saturday. Stay firm!
posted by stoneweaver at 11:46 PM on January 4, 2010


Saturday is not soon enough. No, really.
posted by ryanrs at 5:51 AM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


If it's this bad after only three days, how can you possibly make it until Saturday? I would rethink waiting and get her out now if at all possible.
posted by Windigo at 7:38 AM on January 5, 2010


I wouldn't leave her alone in my apartment for one split second.
posted by tristeza at 7:55 AM on January 5, 2010


You weren't an idiot. You were kind and trying to help. A lot of the time, you can't help, but I hope that doesn't stop you from trying.
posted by pippin at 9:28 AM on January 5, 2010


Late to the party, but wanted to add to the chorus that waiting until Saturday leaves too many more hours for things to escalate and places yourself, your cat, and your property at risk.

I'd also consider how your plan to put her in a cab will actually work out. I think it is imperative that you sever all connection to this person and do not attempt to provide her with further assistance or any kind of continuation of the relationship. This is not just because it perpetuates your unwarranted guilt that you are somehow responsible for her choices -- practically speaking, it is highly unlikely she will willingly get into a cab and go to a storage facility. She may put up a fight. If she doesn't, she can easily get out of the cab, go right back to your building, and do anything from setting up camp on the street, to screaming at you and other tenants, to causing physical damage to and around the building.

I think you need to plan on calling the cops pre-emptively to insure this does not happen. By the time the situation escalates and you do call them, damage may have already been done. Cops deal with this sort of stuff all the time -- a friend of mine in NYC had a former roommate who had kept his stuff in their shared leased apartment and refused to give it back. My friend had the cops come to supervise him ring the doorbell, confront the guy, and have he and the backup buddies he'd brought with him remove his stuff.

I hope this helps. Good luck resolving this difficult situation.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 10:08 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Saturday is too far away - look how much trouble she has caused in just a few days. She's pushing the limit to see what you'll let her get away with, and right now she'll either think that's (a) whatever she wants, or sense that (b) you're about to kick her out so she might as well steal and trash the place. Don't give her time to escalate the situation.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:56 PM on January 5, 2010


Saturday is too late. You need to kick her out today. You asked us not to harp on you for being an idiot and letting her in your home in the first place. Don't make us harp on you for being an idiot and not kicking her out right now.

If you're reading this, stop and kick her out now.
posted by spaltavian at 2:07 PM on January 5, 2010


Hope it all works out. The world needs more generous people like you.
posted by emeiji at 2:26 PM on January 5, 2010


Sounds like you're doing the best you can with a bad situation, OP. I'm going to assume that no updates until Saturday means that things are proceeding as well as can be expected.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:15 PM on January 6, 2010


The more appropriate quote from Jesus (rather than "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me"), to be used in an attempt to back Telstar's opinion, would be:
"Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well."
However, I agree with neither Telstar nor Jesus. Step 1: Contact an appropriate lawyer to make sure of your rights and responsibilities. Step 2: Get her out ASAP, within the bounds of your responsibilities, and within the bounds of decency to her cat (e.g. don't just leave her cat outside in a carrier in the cold).
posted by Flunkie at 6:31 AM on January 7, 2010


follow-up from the OP
I have not yet kicked her out because my schedule doesn't allow me the time to do so. She'll be removed on Saturday. The landlord is aware of the issue and has a change of locks waiting.

I'm sending Jessamyn this 'follow-up' to assure those who might be concerned about the cat: this woman's cat will not suffer for her actions, if I can help it. I'm not going to toss the feline out; he can stay until the Humane Society finds a more suitable foster home for him (one with no female cats; my house guest told me last night that he's done this to every female cat he's lived with.. which made me wonder how many times he's been moved around). The poor kitty (who is super cute when he's not hunting my cat) will have a safe place to be.

Also, I won't toss her stuff out in the rain (snow, actually. The weather forecast has snow and 20 degree temps for Friday and Saturday). I have no need to be mean.

The 'honeymoon' period after Sunday's nasty drunkenness lasted just about two days - she made dinner both nights and followed every rule. I was just starting to think that maybe I'd been hasty in deciding this wouldn't work. Last night, though, she came home with another bottle of beer, asked to open one of my bottles of wine (no), then asked where she could get more beer at 10:30pm. When I said I hadn't a clue, she got a bit upset with me. I was signing on to have a roommate, to share my space, not to be someone else's social worker, guardian angel, or alcohol supplier.
posted by jessamyn at 11:42 AM on January 7, 2010


Thanks for the follow up. I won't heap on more advice, but just want to wish you the best in resolving all of this. What you are going through sounds horrible and you sound like a very caring person who doesn't deserve it. Be strong, and more importantly, BE SAFE (ok, I fudged about no advice)! This woman sounds like a sociopath.

Please follow up again and good luck.
posted by murrey at 1:07 PM on January 7, 2010


Glad you made the decision, and I hope it goes well for you.

I would be less inclined to call people who offer opposing views 'nuts', however. This thread was looking like a lynch mob from the get go. You asked if you had other options and for general advice, be graceful and accept them - you can choose which you use without denigrating those whose opinions/advice you don't agree with.
posted by a non e mouse at 2:19 AM on January 8, 2010


follow-up from the OP
Okay, the hard part is done: she's been told she can no longer be here.

She tried to negotiate, said that there was no way she would leave/be
on the street; when I didn't back down and refused to negotiate, she
turned verbally abusive. At one point, I thought physical violence
would happen but there was a witness here and that probably prevented
any thing really negative from happening. In the end, she's gone. Some
of her stuff is still here and she took my keys with her (she said she
was coming back in for the rest of her stuff then just... left), but
that can be handled.

I'm changing the locks today and will make arrangements for her to
retrieve her things. The Humane Society is aware that they have two
weeks to get the foster cat out of here.

Again, thanks for all the support, advice and knowledge!
posted by jessamyn at 8:59 AM on January 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


Glad it went OK, I hope the retrieval of the rest of her stuff is also relatively smooth. Is there any way you can get it all ready for her to take, so you can meet her at the door, give her stuff back and shut the door? If she comes back at a time when you don't have a friend round, inviting her in could be a tricky situation. I'm sure this has occurred to you, so my apologies if I'm stating the obvious.

Please keep us posted how the conclusion of this goes. It sounds like you've handled this all extremely well and to nth everyone else, your heart was in the right place even if hers wasn't.
posted by tzb at 11:55 AM on January 9, 2010


Excellent. Please arrange to have someone with you when she comes for her things, in case she gets abusive or has someone with her. Glad to hear that you're changing the locks. Good luck.
posted by iconomy at 12:32 PM on January 9, 2010


jessamyn, thanks for posting the follow-up, I worried about how it would go. Glad it went OK, the OP should be congratulated for doing a very good thing in the first place and I hope it doesn't stop her from being the generous person she obviously is.
posted by arcticseal at 12:35 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the end, she's gone...I'm changing the locks today

Great job. Congrats on standing up for yourself!
posted by mediareport at 7:54 PM on January 9, 2010


Congratulations! Excellent call, having the witness there. Thanks for keeping us posted - I'm so glad this situation is all but behind you.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:22 PM on January 9, 2010


Reading that last update was like exhaling after a particularly large breath in. Good job.
posted by chronic sublime at 3:16 AM on January 13, 2010


Just checked back with this thread, and am glad to hear that it went well. I hope the transfer of her other items and cat went as well. Best of luck!
posted by dejah420 at 5:29 PM on January 24, 2010


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