April 26, 2010 7:05 AM   Subscribe

How to resolve a potentially unpleasant roommate-moving-out situation? More details provided.

This friday, April 30th, is my current roommate's last day at our apartment. May 1st, my girlfriend is moving in. My current roommate has done almost nothing to prepare for the move, and she never really even unpacked. My apartment is actually a one bedroom converted into a two by way of a frame+drywall fake-wall, and my girlfriend and I are moving into the room currently inhabited by my roommate.

The roommate has continually been quite unpleasant, lazy, and filthy. I'm very concerned that she is either not going to be moved out by friday, or she will simply move all of her stuff out without cleaning anything.

How do I go about voicing my concerns with someone who is nearly impossible to talk to? Quite often, I will say hello to her and she will say nothing in return. This is the level of unpleasantness/rudeness I'm dealing with.

If she does end up staying extra days, is there any way I can ensure she will pay for the beyond-lease time she is here?

If she doesn't clean, is there anything I can do about that?

I'm not usually quite so spineless, but I dread interactions with this person. Thank you for your assistance.
posted by plungerjoke to Human Relations (36 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think most answers will need more info, like who is and is not on the lease and where you are located. Also, can you get your landlord to intervene if things become a problem?
posted by soelo at 7:11 AM on April 26, 2010

Give her a time that she must be out of on the 30th. Say, "I need you to have moved out all your things and have cleaned by midnight, otherwise I will put your things on the street and take a cleaning fee out of your deposit [if she gave you one]". Then, follow through. If she's this rude to you, there's no reason to pussy-foot around telling her how it's going to be.
posted by greta simone at 7:11 AM on April 26, 2010

Depends on whether or not they've signed the lease for that particular date. If she just agreed to move out and you and your girlfriend are just continuing the original lease that the roommate is on then legally there's no action you can take unless their is a signed document of some sort validating this. Don't even bother asking her to pay for extra days, focus on getting her out.

I wouldn't worry about the cleaning aspect, your main concern is to get them out, who cares if you have to clean up after them, you'll feel so relieved that picking up their leftover crap will feel great.

Since you don't have a relationship with this person and they re obviously pretty horrible, move their stuff to the door and explain that you realized that she hadn't moved anything yet and you wanted help since obviously she hadn't found time to do it yet. Be nice and courteous or take the other route and confront her about this, maybe a shouting match is needed to motivate her out the door.

Good luck!
posted by modoriculous at 7:14 AM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Did she leave any sort of damage deposit? If she leaves the place a mess, I'm pretty sure it's well within your rights to withhold a portion of that deposit for cleaning expenses.
posted by schmod at 7:15 AM on April 26, 2010

My roommate and I are both on the lease until april 30th. As of may 1st, my girlfriend and I are both on the lease. I'm not sure about landlord intervention. He tends to take his sweet time about things, so I am not sure how much help he would be.

Greta: We are both renters. I don't have her deposit; the landlord does. Also, wouldn't I be breaking the law if I put her things out on the street?
posted by plungerjoke at 7:16 AM on April 26, 2010

I had a roommate like this. We tried everything from the polite, the proactive, the humorous to the pushy/passive aggressive. Nothing worked, and in hindsight I now realise that expending that amount of energy on a thoughtless ass was not a good use of my time.

When he came to leave, having done bugger all cleaning to prepare the house for handover so we could get our deposit, one of the other roommates - who had hitherto been the calming force in the house - snapped. She stormed outside and, to the horror of his family, gave him both barrels about what an inconsiderate prick he was.

This was made all the more memorable by the fact that she was preparing to go to a James Bond theme party and happened to be wearing a bikini, high heels, false lashes and wig.

Anyway: on the cleaning I think you're going to have to choose between making your point and possibly being ignored or just saying good riddance and waiting till she moves out.

On the timing of the move, if she's not out, or looking like she's not going out I'd politely tell her that you will be moving in on that date, and that her stuff won't be there when you do. If you want to enforce this, the nuclear option is to change the locks once she's off the lease and find a way to return her stuff to her.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:16 AM on April 26, 2010 [8 favorites]

You probably need to prepare the eventuality that even if she does clean, it will be a half-hearted effort and you'll need to re-clean anyhow. When I was a renter, there was only one time I moved into a place that was properly cleaned before I got there.

As to her staying past her move-out time, I second greta simone's suggestion.

In any case, stock up on big black plastic trash bags.
posted by adamrice at 7:16 AM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

If she does end up staying extra days,

Here's your problem. This is not an option.

She may not clean. She may not move anything she doesn't wan't. But you simply have to get out of this mentality. She cannot stay beyond Friday. Period.

Have the locks changed Friday, while she's there. You can't really do anything if she doesn't clean except clean it up yourself-- unless you control her security deposit, in which case you can keep it. That's it.
posted by spaltavian at 7:16 AM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah: take pictures in case there's damage that might come out of your security deposit. The landlord's not going to do a walkthrough until you move out, so you'll get stuck with the loss otherwise.
posted by adamrice at 7:18 AM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

My roommate and I are both on the lease until april 30th. As of may 1st, my girlfriend and I are both on the lease.

In that case, she wouldn't be "staying extra days", she would be trespassing. Call the cops.
posted by spaltavian at 7:19 AM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Can I get the locks changed on a place I rent?
posted by plungerjoke at 7:23 AM on April 26, 2010

Can I get the locks changed on a place I rent?

Should be fine, but the landlord will need a copy of the new keys. And keep the old locks and keys. But check your lease to see if there's a specific provision against it.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:27 AM on April 26, 2010

Nthing to give up on getting her to clean.

If she doesn't get her stuff out by the date, I would all the landlord and push the issue. You have a signed lease for this time period, you are the ones who will be paying the rent, and the fact that this person was formerly your roommate is no longer relevant.
posted by desuetude at 7:29 AM on April 26, 2010

Wow, lots of people telling you to throw her stuff in the street and change locks. Don't get into legal trouble over this, those actions may be illegal in your area.

Which is why I suggested getting the landlord involved if possible. They have a lot more power over her in this situation than you do. Let them deal with the locks, the damage deposit and any stuff she leaves behind. I know what you mean about him taking his sweet time, but try to put some pressure on him if you can. At the very least, make sure there is a time when old roommate "checks out" with him so he can observe the state she left the place in, get her keys, etc.

As for the cleaning, assume you will want it in better shape than she leaves it. Know anyone who could use an extra $50 and doesn't mind cleaning? Ask them to do it.
posted by soelo at 7:31 AM on April 26, 2010

IANAL, but I am a law student taking property this very semester, and I would point you to the fact most states frown on landlord's attempts to employ "self-help" in lease disputes (rather than proceeding through either private dispute resolution or established judicial channels). While I can't say whether the same holds true for tenant-to-tenant disputes, I'd damn sure find out if it does before I started pulling any cowboy bullshit like changing the locks while she's out.
posted by saladin at 7:32 AM on April 26, 2010

Roommate is a "she", by the way. No romantic involvement ever.
posted by plungerjoke at 7:38 AM on April 26, 2010

Get the landlord involved today. Tell him you are concerned, and have him talk to your roommate.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:38 AM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

Can I get the locks changed on a place I rent?

Yes. This should have been detailed in your lease/rental agreement. You may have to pay a locksmith fee -- depending upon your city's laws, your landlord may already be required to change the locks whenever a tenant moves out. Virtually all renting laws require landlords to make a locksmith available on short notice.

Also, please do voice these concerns to your landlord. If your roommate is on the lease, it's every bit as much his problem as it is yours. He should also be able to withhold part of her security deposit if she leaves the place a mess.
posted by schmod at 7:38 AM on April 26, 2010

Just emailed the landlord.
posted by plungerjoke at 7:43 AM on April 26, 2010

Please ignore the people telling you to change the locks and throw her stuff on the street. You haven't posted your location. These people have no idea if that's legal where you are. It's not legal in New York City, for example.
posted by Mavri at 7:44 AM on April 26, 2010

I wouldn't put her stuff out onto the street, but come Friday, I would take it upon myself to move it to the front door.

That's all assuming that the landlord talking to her (as you requested of him) doesn't get results.

Once her name is off the lease, If she herself is still physically staying there, she is tresspassing and you can call the cops. If she makes a good faith effort and moves herself out but needs to leave some stuff behind I would be nice and arrange with her a tme for when she can come pick it up in the future, with a conditional that if she doesn't pick it up by x date you'll donate it to goodwill or whatever.

You're going to be stuck cleaning the place yourself. The landlord would need to clean it if you both moved out, but likely in the landlord's view, the lease is a continuation and not completely new (not that that's the law's view but....well I've never seen a renting situation that went strictly by the books...)
posted by WeekendJen at 7:56 AM on April 26, 2010

I agree with getting the landlord involved. Worst case scenario, he will be informed and will have approved of your choices.
posted by Tarumba at 7:56 AM on April 26, 2010

Telling the landlord is okay, but keep in mind, she doesn't have to start packing on your timetable. She's still got four days until she needs to be out and if she wants to wait until 10 p.m. on the 30th to start packing, that's totally her right, as long as she's out of the place when her lease ends.

If you're that afraid of this person, expect to clean up after her. Hell, expect to clean up after ANY roommate, if you want your deposit back.

Getting your landlord involved now might help you get part of her deposit back for cleaning and/or damage, but don't panic yet. Legally, she's got just as much right to have her stuff there right now as you do.

(For what it's worth, I've lived with people like your roommate, and they always totally stressed me out when they didn't seem like they'd be ready to move on time, and each and every time, they were gone when they needed to be. Each and every time, I also had to clean. If I ever have to deal with this again, I'll resign myself to having to clean but I will absolutely not allow myself to stress out over their state of packing. Not worth it.)
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 8:17 AM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would let the landlord deal with the roommate moving out on time or not, and I'd make it clear to him now that you would like that roommate out on April 30/May 1, no question.

As for the cleaning, I would just give that one up. You can ask her to clean, but I don't know how successful you're going to be with that. I would probably start cleaning common areas now, both to appease your gf and to hopefully cause your roommate to at least clean her bedroom before she leaves.

I would plan on you and your gf staying in your current bedroom for a few days and doing some cleaning and setting up of your new room. Maybe it will be a bonding experience/funny story down the road.
posted by mrs. taters at 8:18 AM on April 26, 2010

Ask the landlord to be there on moving out day, to help ensure that she actually leaves, and so he can see for himself any damage or filth she leaves behind.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:28 AM on April 26, 2010

This is a job for your landlord to handle.

If your landlord isn't taking you seriously and doesn't appear to address the situation, you should let him know that since the terms of your new lease are being violated by him allowing the previous tenant to stay in the apartment, that you are actively seeking out a new place to live and will move out as soon as you find one. Then he will have to deal with the surly roommate and try to evict her. That ought to light a fire under his ass.

Do not under any circumstances touch any of her property or change the locks; as had been said, that shit is illegal in some states and you don't want to get yourself in trouble or face some b.s. lawsuit if your petulant roommate tries to claim that you damaged any of her stuff.

Remember: your goal is to get rid of the nasty roommate as expeditiously as possible, while inflicting the least amount of trauma to yourself. Make the landlord do his job.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 8:39 AM on April 26, 2010

Make plans now to spend time cleaning, dusting any windowsills, maybe even painting, if it's OK with your landlord and/or you choose a color that looks the same as the old color). You should even plan how you'll get a rental carpet cleaner home and return it. You'll do a better job cleaning than she would anyway, and it will be a nice start to living with your girlfriend.

Have fun at the paint store picking out a nice color (even if it's white - there are about a million colors of white). Painting's fun! You might like a low-VOC paint since you'll be in the room pretty quickly after you paint.

Plan where all your/her stuff will be during the time you're working. You should be able to finish in a day.
posted by amtho at 8:45 AM on April 26, 2010

If she does end up staying extra days, is there any way I can ensure she will pay for the beyond-lease time she is here?

Communicate to your landlord that if he fails to evict your roommate by the start date of the new lease, that you will expect a commensurate deduction on your rent until either she is evicted or you find a new apartment.

If she doesn't clean, is there anything I can do about that?

Take pictures, videos, and document everything -- your part of the apt and hers -- both before and after she leaves. Make sure the landlord knows that you expect her filth to be cleaned up before your new move-in date, just as if you were a new tenant (because basically, you are). If she doesn't clean up after herself, tell him that he can hire a cleaning service or you will, and you'll expect that amount to be deducted from the following month's rent or your roommate's portion of the security deposit.

Again, these issues are his responsibility as the landlord.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 8:58 AM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

years ago I had a housemate who fell in love with a guy in another city. she pretty much disappeared and stopped giving us rent and utility money. when the lease was almost over, we were faced with her room full of things. we couldn't get in touch with her despite leaving phone messages with her boyfriend and her mother. we lived in maryland so we looked up maryland renter's laws and discovered that after thirty days her belongings were considered abandoned and that we could keep them if it came to that. when it was two days before move out, we packed her belongings into trash bags, ready to bring them to goodwill and/or split them between the remaining tenants. her boyfriend showed up at 8pm (our lease ended at midnight that night), paid the missing rent and utilities owed and threw all her stuff into his car and left.

let the landlord handle this - suggest that he make her pay for any extra time and that he withhold part of her deposit if there is significant cleaning to be done. however, i suspect that even your sullen unpleasant housemate will be out on time, despite your worries. if you have to do the cleaning yourself, at least you'll know it will be done well. if you're concerned about her having access to the apartment after her official move out, request that the locks be changed, but if she's still not moved out on her move out date, changing the locks that day could end in a really unpleasant shitstorm.
posted by sciencegeek at 9:31 AM on April 26, 2010

I think you're facing a situation where you can try to get what is right and fair, or you can get an apartment.

You don't say if the roommate has someplace to go or not. Assuming she does, you easiest course is just to take over. Ask her tonight and every night this week what her plans are, if she hasn't answered on Friday morning move in and do it. Really, it isn't right and it isn't fair, but it will get you a room. Or you can stand on principle and have three people (and a lot of tension) in your home for a long, long time.

The first way, you are done with her completely on Saturday morning, and that seems like a good thing to me. And yes, photograph the place as you begin moving her things for her, and as you begin cleaning her crap, and certainly any damage she has done. You might get reimbursed for repairs, but the other efforts are just what you are paying for peace.
posted by Some1 at 9:37 AM on April 26, 2010

If your landlord isn't taking you seriously and doesn't appear to address the situation, you should let him know that since the terms of your new lease are being violated by him allowing the previous tenant to stay in the apartment, that you are actively seeking out a new place to live and will move out as soon as you find one. Then he will have to deal with the surly roommate and try to evict her. That ought to light a fire under his ass.

Here is yet another example of how the advice being given in this thread fails to match up with the actual law. As I understand it, depending on jurisdiction and the actual terms of your lease, your landlord may be under no obligation to deliver the physical premises to you, only the legal title, which he will have done via execution of the lease agreement. See Hannan v. Dusch. If your landlord is at all aware of the law, and it is on his or her side, then I doubt very seriously that trying to make this argument will "light a fire under his ass." Again, I am NOT a lawyer, merely a law student studying for his impending Property exam.
posted by saladin at 10:20 AM on April 26, 2010

Number one: contact your landlord, let him know you're getting everything coordinated for the great roommate exchange, and want to know if you can have the locks changed yourself (either DIY or professionally at his preference) or if he wants to handle it. If he wants to handle it, coordinate the changeover date for the evening of May 1st when you'll be there and if he wants the existing lock keys back. If he wants you to handle it, ask how many key copies he wants delivered and by what date/means.

Once that's coordinated, try to engage in a conversation with your roommate, to tell her that you hope her plans are all set, and when does she plan to be fully moved out so your new roommate can move in. Ask, don't demand, and be the sweetest person ever, and hopefully you'll have a nice civil conversation with her that takes care of your worries.

Of course, the situation might not go that well; she might not be forthcoming ("oh, I don't know, I might be out sometime this week"), at which point you say firmly: "[name], we need to have a simple conversation about your plans, so that I can coordinate everything that's dependent on your move-out and cleanup." If she was actually being argumentative or belligerent, add "I'm truly sorry we haven't been a good match as roommates, but we've had a long time to work things out, and it hasn't happened. After all this is over and the pressure of being roommates is gone, we can sit down and discuss all that, but now is not the time." Either she'll give you the information you seek (and so you can hold her to it if she gets difficult later) or she'll storm off, in which case your premonitions of trouble are valid and you can proceed accordingly.

She might even continue to be unwilling to talk, in which case you should proceed accordingly.

"Accordingly", in both cases, is to get a few packing boxes and move your things to a corner. If she asks why (she won't) tell her you're getting your things out of the way for the upcoming moving days. When she's not around, take your most valuable things (that can be moved) to a safe location, and take pictures of everything else just in case. Then take a few days off work so you can be around the last two days of the month, and the first day of May, and be around. Don't get in her hair, don't get in her face, but be around to see what's going on and to make sure nothing gets damaged/removed that shouldn't be. Once she's out, stay on-site until you or your locksmith or your landlord has changed the lock(s).

Oh, and as for cleaning: don't tell her you're letting her off the hook -- just in case she's going to do it -- but assume she'll clean nothing, and consider your post-move-out cleanup to be a mental cleanup as well, actively sweeping out all traces of your old roommate. If she's expecting some of her deposit back, and you're in the apartment when she leaves, you can either give it to her (have it in cash, just in case she does right by you) or gesture to her uncleaned area and say you'll have the money for her when she's done cleaning up, and ask when she plans to be done.

Finally: what if she squats, refusing to pack up and go? Then she's declared war, and you should contact the landlord, the local tenant's organization and the police to (politely and briefly) describe the situation ("my ex-roommate is no longer on the lease as of [whenever], and has just told me they have no intention whatsoever of leaving, what should I do now?") and see what they advise.
posted by davejay at 10:49 AM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't throw her stuff out on the street or change the locks without first consulting a lawyer. IANYL

Also, it's Monday, she's moving out of a 1 bedroom apartment where she never even really unpacked on Friday. No biggie. 1 hard day packing and cleaning. A couple of hours with friends moving and she's done. I wouldn't be panicking yet. You might want to ask her if she intends to clean herself or get a maid, to remind her you expect it to be clean. Be worried if she hasn't started doing anything by Friday morning.
posted by whoaali at 3:56 PM on April 26, 2010

Have you even talked to your room mate about this? Surely that's the first step? Ask her in passing when she plans to be gone by this Friday, see what she says. It will either give her the heads up that actually, she does need to leave, or will reassure you that she has some kind of plan in place. Then when that time comes around on Friday if she's not gone you can say something like "You said you'd be gone by now, how are things going? Is there anything I can do to help?" and escalate from there if necessary. But you can't just not say anything, stew quietly, then start moving her stuff around / changing locks on Friday with no notice.

Talking to your landlord makes sense since you want him to deal with the deposit appropriately (assuming she doesn't clean anything), but if you haven't talked to her about this are all you have is unfounded worries, which from your landlords point of view is essentially hearsay. It doesn't have to be a confrontation and by avoiding her you're just increasing the chance of drama. So suck it up and see what she actually plans to do before you jump to conclusions about what's going to happen.
posted by shelleycat at 7:52 PM on April 26, 2010

i am not a lawyer and i am not your lawyer. i am a third-year law student about a month away from graduation. if she stays in your apartment after her lease is up, it sounds like a holdover tenancy.

according to [uh my property outline], when a tenant remains in possession after termination of tenancy, there are two options at common law: (1) eviction (often without traditional notice requirements) + damages which can be double or triple rent or (2) the landlord treats it as implied consent to holdover tenancy. (2) won't happen because your landlord has a new tenant to take your roommate's place. but what saladin and others have mentioned above is true, self help is disfavored and you generally can't move her stuff out yourself.
posted by anthropomorphic at 12:53 AM on April 27, 2010

wow, get over everything. Packing a bedroom of stuff is maybe a days work. So you and your girlfriend are 'moving into the room your roommate is currently in'. Does this mean someone else is going to be in the room you are currently in? Or is the worst case scenario that you and your girlfriend spend an extra couple of days sleeping on whatever you sleep on now, while you clean the ex-roommate's room?

Saturday morning, if your roommate isn't gone, you and your girlfriend go in and start packing their shit and cleaning the room. Leave their stuff in the living room for a while to give them time to collect it. But this probably won't happen because they'll pack and leave on Friday and you'll just have to spend Saturday cleaning and moving your stuff into their room.
posted by jacalata at 11:50 PM on April 27, 2010

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