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May 10, 2010 7:04 AM   Subscribe

Is it fair to ask our room mate to cut back on the weekend house guests?

I live in Philadelphia with my fiance and a male room mate in a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath row home. Back story:

I met my fiance last summer. As of January, I moved into his house and started paying rent. For the few months before that, I would sometimes sleep at his house (and, he would sleep at mine, too). I'd go home often to shower/change, etc. I certainly wasn't bringing a bag over and living here.

Now, it's May. Our room mate is planning on leaving by July 1st, which is great. However, he has house guests over every weekend. Mother, friend, girlfriend, etc. Every weekend, someone is staying with us. He never ASKS us if it's okay, he just tells us. When his mom stayed the weekend, it was awful. She'd sing in this awful fake opera voice, clear her throat every 30 seconds, or blow her nose 15 times in a row. They'd come home at 2am and talk in the living room or pound around the house. It gets tiring, and it doesn't feel like we have a lot of privacy.

So, our problem: Is it fair to ask him to give us a break once in a while, considering: 1. I would sleep here sometimes before I officially moved in, and 2. He's moving out in July anyway.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (35 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You have 21 days to put up with this. You also slept over before paying rent (did you ask if this was OK, or did you just tell the roommate what was happening?).

This isn't worth making a fuss over, especially given that you don't really have a right to complain about him abusing the living area when you did the same.
posted by Solomon at 7:08 AM on May 10, 2010 [9 favorites]

Did you guys ask him if it was OK for you to sleep there regularly before you moved in? No? Then you have to shut up and put up until July.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:09 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's tiresome when anyone's parents come to visit, but it doesn't sound like he's generally having guests that are much more permanent than when you used to visit. It sounds to me like it would be a hell of a lot easier to just stick it out for 6 more weeks. You could always ask him "Hey, are you planning on having guests this weekend? I've got a long week ahead, and would really like to have a few days to relax without company." That would let him know you'd prefer not he not have anyone over, and if he's inconsiderate enough not to notice, it would serve as an indication to me that a more explicit confrontation isn't likely worth the hassle given the brief window during which he'll still be there.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 7:10 AM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh, jeez. July 1st? Yeah, it's 3 weeks. Just deal.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 7:11 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I assume these guests are staying in the common area like the couch and not in his room, and when you slept over you stayed in your fiance's room? That's a pretty big difference. If his guests are in his room, that's not so bad, but it doesn't seem like it from your description.

I'd bring it up. Have your fiance do it, obviously. Maybe make yourself scarce so roomie doesn't feel it's a couple vs one dude gang up? But just say "Hey, roomie, I know you've had people over every weekend, is there any way you can minimize that for a little while? It's really a lot to have guests in your home every weekend when you just want to relax in peace in your own space. Once in awhile is no problem, but every weekend is really hard." It's a completely acceptable thing to want. But since you guys haven't said much, he probably thinks you're cool with it or don't mind much.
posted by kpht at 7:12 AM on May 10, 2010

Yeah, I wouldn't bring it up, especially since he clearly didn't take issue with you sleeping over or moving in. Why end things on bad terms? Relief is right around the corner anyway.
posted by mondaygreens at 7:12 AM on May 10, 2010

Seconding solipso - you could maybe ask for one quiet weekend if you need a break (and hope he complies), but I think that's about all you can do at this point.
posted by cabingirl at 7:13 AM on May 10, 2010

Wait, guys, July 1st is in 7 weeks, not 3. While I think it's generally pretty good that he's moving out soon and it's not too big an inconvenience all considered, 7 weekends of house guests would drive me batty. A general "hey, dude, is there any way you can cut back on that" isn't out of place.
posted by kpht at 7:14 AM on May 10, 2010 [7 favorites]

If he was staying longer, it would be completely reasonable to ask him to ask you guys before having guests over. I don't have all the details of you and your fiance's history with said roommate, so I would say if they have been friends for a long time, or if you foresee maintaining a friendship with the person, then it's fair to ask, since ostensibly he doesn't want to bother you and isn't aware that he's imposing. On the other hand, if you aren't friends, and this person will be out of your life once out of the house, I would err on the cautious side and just grin and bear it. It's only a month, right?
posted by molecicco at 7:16 AM on May 10, 2010

I don't think it's ever appropriate to tell someone to cut back on their guests. Especially if you're only going to be living with him a few more weeks.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:19 AM on May 10, 2010

You need to address some of these issues at the time they're happening. If it's 2 am and he's pounding around, go out into the living room and say "dude, we're trying to sleep, do you mind" instead of being all bitter about it later.

It's totally reasonable to ask that said guests not sleep in the shared space without getting the OK from you guys. You can't say anything about his girlfriend due to your history of staying over. But his buddy who crashes on the couch? Yeah, he needs to go. I second what other people said about "needing a weekend of peace and quiet." If it were June I'd STFU, but July is a ways away.

Alternatively, can you and fiancé get away for a weekend? Go camping on the cheap? Or make a deal with roommate that he can have his buddy over one weekend if he stays at his girlfriends' the next weekend and gives you the apartment to yourselves.
posted by desjardins at 7:34 AM on May 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

I take it that the roommate precedes your presence in the house?

Now, you're of course paying rent, and I'm sure that your move-in was fully discussed and agreed-upon, but, unless I'm getting the time-line confused, there is at least some chance that roommate-number-three has been quietly obnoxed* by your presence, seven days a week, since January. Just saying. Dividing rent an extra way is nice and all, but you're not part of the package he originally signed up for.

By which I mean to say, I think you can manage to remain quietly obnoxed by the presence of his guests, two days a week, until July 1.

*I feel quite strongly that this should be a word.

posted by wreckingball at 7:37 AM on May 10, 2010 [12 favorites]

"Is it fair to ask him to give us a break once in a while, considering: 1...2..."

Not really. If you were to look at it from his point of you view - YOU are the guest.
posted by Brent Parker at 7:44 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

As others have mentioned, if they are sleeping in common areas rather than in his room with him, I think it's entirely appropriate to ask him to cut back on guests. When I lived with roommates our general rule of thumb was that guests that sleep in the room are fine as long as they aren't in the apartment all the time, other guests require permission.

It is your home too and you shouldn't have to be confined to your bedroom to get some peace. Ask him to limit to every other or something as a compromise and be nice about it. If it turns into a thing, just grin and bear it rather than starting a feud.
posted by Kimberly at 7:44 AM on May 10, 2010

It's not clear to me how often you slept at your fiance's until you moved in, but if it was one or two nights a week, you've got no standing to complain. (Plus, he went from sharing with one person to sharing with two, which was not what he signed up for.)

So, assuming you did not actually sleep over every week before you moved in, then yes, you can ask for a quiet weekend, or that he be quiet after midnight, or that his guests sleep in his room and not in the living room, but you also want to be generous -- you used to sleep over, even though not weekly, and then you moved in without really giving him a choice. (I mean, seriously, your landlord/friend/roommate says his fiancee wants to move in, what can you say but yes?)

Assuming, on the other hand, that you did sleep over at least once a week before you moved in, then you can ask him to keep it down after midnight and accept it for 7 more weeks.
posted by jeather at 7:45 AM on May 10, 2010

You can ask, obviously. Done politely it doesn't hurt.

If this comes down to appealing to his sense of fairness then your question skips over details that matter if one is appealing to the "he who pays the rent argument", namely did you and your SO take one rent and divide it in two and how much you used the apartment when you weren't a rentpayer.

If you're basically using two thirds of the communal space for half the rent and stayed over a fair bit then he's got some grounds to point out that he's put up with a bit and some give and take is fair.

That said, not being able to use your living room because someone's crashed there is tough to live with. I'd focus on that. Just say it's cool him having people over but it would be great if you didn't find yourself having to tiptoe round guests in the apartment quite as frequently.

If all else fails it is only a few weeks. And bongo drums are cheap to buy and surprisingly easy to learn. Kidding, obviously
posted by MuffinMan at 7:47 AM on May 10, 2010

I would sometimes sleep at his house

How often?

If it was ever more than 3 nights in one week during the time you weren't paying rent, then yeah, I'd say you owe the roommate some slack on houseguests. You're on better ground with the 2am noise, so maybe focus on that during these last two months.
posted by mediareport at 7:53 AM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Ditto address the obnoxing behavior, e.g., noisy late nights, first.
posted by salvia at 8:07 AM on May 10, 2010

I used to have a roommate, B, with whom I made a point of discussing overnight guests (not in a shrill, demanding way, I was just intentional about asking her what her expectations were and sharing mine as well). It was great! We were both happy, had our own social lives, and didn't get in each other's way. Later on, B moved in with a new roommate. This new roommate had a long-term, long-distance boyfriend who visited frequently. B and the new roommate got into a bit of tension and frustration because, seeing that her new roommate frequently had her boyfriend stay over, B started having overnight guests as well, assuming her roommate would be cool with it. As it happens, the roommate thought of her long-term, long-distance boyfriend as a sort of special case (like, of course he has to stay over--where else could he stay?) and thought of B's letting other guests stay overnight as inappropriate. Neither was right, exactly, or wrong--they just made too many assumptions.

So, all that's to say that if you didn't have an explicit conversation a long time ago about overnight guests, your roommate may well think he's behaving appropriately and acceptably within the social world of your apartment. Suggestions that he's doing this to act out frustration at you seem off the mark without further information. At this point, it's probably too late in the game to have a big House Meeting to discuss your feelings about his weekend guests. It could end up in a big messy fight because it's gone on for so long and the stakes are now so low with only 3 weeks left living together. But, it wouldn't be a bad idea to talk about the noise level or ask to impose "quiet hours."
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:09 AM on May 10, 2010

Maybe ask him for a schedule, so you'll *know* which weekends he has guests and which not. You can explain that you really need to know which weekends will be quiet, hang around the house weekends, and that you really appreciate having weekends more often than not (or whatever's more true for you). This will also serve as an opening for discussion if it turns out he plans to have people over every single weekend.
posted by amtho at 8:13 AM on May 10, 2010

Oh yeah, asking politely to keep the noise-level down after [reasonable hour for a person to be sleeping or winding down] is totally fine.

Though I'd refrain from any direct criticism of your mother-in-lease's singing voice.
posted by wreckingball at 8:28 AM on May 10, 2010

It is not fair to ask him not to have guests. But it is fair to ask him and his guests to be quiet late at night.
posted by equalpants at 8:36 AM on May 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

If this comes down to appealing to his sense of fairness then your question skips over details that matter if one is appealing to the "he who pays the rent argument", namely did you and your SO take one rent and divide it in two and how much you used the apartment when you weren't a rentpayer.

This is key. Are you paying 1/3 of the total rent, or half of your fiance's rent (i.e., 1/4 of the total rent)? If the roommate is paying half the total rent while you and your fiance are each paying a quarter, you shouldn't push it any further than just asking him to be quiet late at night.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:59 AM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

You may think that there's a huge difference between overnight guests in the common space and overnight guests in your room, but you're still having to deal with them in the bathroom / living room / kitchen, and you still have to listen to them having sex. Yeah it's part of having a roommate but it's different if it's on the weekend when you yourself are out busy doing things, but god, the girlfriend/boyfriend coming over twice during m-f and then spending the entire weekend in the apartment gets tiring.

If you are not paying a full 1/3 share of utilities and rent then you have no moral leg to stand on.

Be sure that you are 100% on the up and up before you start making indignant noises about noise in the common areas.
posted by micawber at 9:29 AM on May 10, 2010

Are his guests staying in his room or in the common area? Because I assume you were staying in your fiance's room, making your overnights far less of an imposition. So, I would not equate the two so readily.
posted by spaltavian at 9:34 AM on May 10, 2010

You can't ask him to ask your permission for guests. But I also don't think that weekend out-of-town guests is the same thing as having a significant other occasionally spend the night and vice-versa.

How does your fiance feel about the situation? Focus on the noise.

If the constant parade of guests bothers your fiance, maybe he could gently indicate that every weekend is a bit much for guests in terms of intrusion.

If it were simply that his girlfriend was there as much as you are, and you're paying rent, that'd be comparable. But you don't want to get into a protracted argument that will surely turn personal regarding the exact circumstances that led him to invite his mom, his one friend, his other friend, etc. I can't honestly see that going well.
posted by desuetude at 9:35 AM on May 10, 2010

You don't want his mom to visit on Mother's day weekend because she blows her nose? It's your housemate's home too; part of living with another person is not being annoyed when they live their life in your shared space.

Plus he's moving out in less than two months!
posted by nomad at 10:31 AM on May 10, 2010

From a practical standpoint, if you, or your fiance, has any interest in staying friends with this guy, you should suck it up and deal.

Nothing sours a friendship like the feeling that the SO's interests are given unfair priority. If I were in the roommate's shoes, and felt like I had been a good sport about your staying over and then your moving in, and had been repaid with bitching about my guests, I'd be really pissed.

I know this isn't how you see it, but I want to let you know there's a good chance that'll be the response, no matter how nicely you frame it. I know of 2 friendships that have been torpedoed by these situations.

So, I agree with other posters that you can address specific late night behavior, but otherwise, you should just deal.
posted by mercredi at 10:39 AM on May 10, 2010

Given the short amount of time left --7 weekends-- I would probably let it drop if you want to stay friends on the best terms possible. That said, my answer would be completely different if he was going to be there longer. I think it is reasonable to talk about the noise and to ask for some advanced notice of weekend guests.

FWIW--the Mom's "habits" would have driven me to distraction and I am a stickler of guests sleeping in bedrooms and not public spaces.
posted by murrey at 11:38 AM on May 10, 2010

Mod note: From the OP:
When I'd stay over, it was generally either after a date or after dinner. It was probably a few times a week on average. I would leave in the morning after everyone else in the house had gone to work, and I wouldn't usually shower there (or use any other utilities). His/our room mate would rarely know I was there, as I slept in my fiance's room (of course) and we were quiet.

When my fiance and I decided we wanted to live together, we went to his room mate (in October) and told him my fiance could move out (and we'd find our own place) or he could move out (it was a month-to-month lease, we were giving him 60+ days notice). He suggested a third option: we all live together. I DID NOT "force" myself on him. I am not a GUEST.

When our room mate has house guests over, someone is usually on the couch (except for his girlfriend), whether it's his guest or him. The situation with his girlfriend is MUCH different, because she lives out of state. So, when she's here for the weekend, she is LIVING with us for the weekend. Sleeping/eating/showering... etc.

We realize we have only 7 weeks left... but the thought of 7 more weekends of no privacy/bathroom hogging (it's bad enough with three people, but four=UGH, especially when two people in a row shower) is tiring. We planned a SF movie night on Saturday, and when they came home, they decided to make dinner (something loud, of course) at nearly 11pm.

Thanks for the input so far, especially those telling us to NUT UP. We really are two misanthropes in love, and we live with the most annoying/inconsiderate human being ever. He LITERALLY comes into the house and whistles/sings loudly or picks up a guitar and starts playing it while I'm trying to watch something... We are counting the days.

Nomad: His mother didn't visit on Mother's day weekend, but I wasn't exaggerating with her habits. Plus, she would complain about things in our house, not directly to us, but just mumbling aloud. Arg.

Desjardins: Vacation is a great idea! We actually did escape to Europe a month or two ago, but when we got home, we were greeted with house guests IMMEDIATELY and three weekends in a row.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:53 PM on May 10, 2010

I think you're just going to have to suck it up, aside from addressing the noise at late hours issue. If you try to change the rules now so that guests are limited and need to be cleared beforehand it's going to make you and your boyfriend look like big jerks. You were happy enough to have it flexible when it suited you, sleeping over multiple times a week without, I presume, permission being asked of the roommate the vast majority of times. Your roommate was seemingly very accommodating to you.

Now when that flexibility benefits him and inconveniences you you wish to change it and that's probably going to rub your roommate the wrong way. Even if the truth is that his guests are more disruptive than you ever were, use more utilities, and are over more than you were, it's still going to sound to your roommate as if you're saying "We're special and our situation was different and you don't deserve the same accommodation you gave us". Imagine how that will sound to him. Probably breeding grounds for resentment on his part.

It sucks but in a year it will be water long under the bridge and you and your boyfriend will probably be able to joke about the operatic singing and nose blowing.
posted by 6550 at 5:29 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

You are not, now, a guest; you were, until January, a guest. As much as I am sure you tried very hard not to be an inconvenience, you still showed up without asking him for permission, used the bathroom and stayed in the house alone.

It is entirely reasonable for you to ask him not to keep guests in the living room, and to be quiet after midnight (or some reasonable hour), to let you watch television without listening to him play the guitar, but your fiance had a guest a few nights a week for several months, and now his roommate is doing the same.
posted by jeather at 7:09 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think he should be reasonable about noise and people sleeping in the common area.

As for you, you're really defensive about how he's "the most annoying/inconsiderate human being ever." It sounds like you just hate living with this guy and you're looking for things to pick on.

You may not think you were an inconvenience before you moved in but trust me, you were. Simply because you weren't part of the deal. And, you then altered his living arrangement, month-to-month lease or not. He made a compromise letting you move in because he didn't want to move and didn't want your boyfriend too have too either.

So, ask him to be considerate... But don't bitch about his friends. If you want a place to yourself, rent one. And you're doing that so... Why complain?
posted by Quadlex at 9:43 PM on May 10, 2010

...told him my fiance could move out ... or he could move out

In a way, you didn't force your company on him, but neither of these other options were going to be wonderful for him. All of you living together is really more convenient in a not-having-to-find-a-new-place-or-new-roommate way.

Also, if, during your period as a periodic guest, you were leaving after he left for work, then you were present the entire morning, albeit hidden in a room. Maybe he'd have liked to play guitar, whistle, or cook loudly then?

Alternatively, he could just be a very laid-back, social guy, who has no clue about the degree to which his behavior might bother some people. If you are able to talk to him (and it sounds like you might be so ticked off that this isn't possible), then you might be doing him a favor by letting him know that not everyone is as accepting as he is.
posted by amtho at 8:09 AM on May 11, 2010

we live with the most annoying/inconsiderate human being ever

amtho's right, it sounds like you're way past the "maybe we can talk to him about this" stage, but if that's not the case, then having a calm, respectful discussion about the issues you see and the requests you'd like to make of him would be the way adults would handle this.

And yeah, I'll also second that having a roommate's sex partner around the place when the roommate is not there himself is *very* uncool behavior. I don't care how quiet you were; there's a basic roommate ground rule you seem to have broken repeatedly: non-rent-payers do not get to hang out at the place when the rent-payer they know is not there. That's really, really basic. I can definitely see why he might feel you owe him a little slack.

If you can imagine a calm talk where you acknowledge you might have been thoughtlessly rude to him before you technically moved in and started paying your fair share, then have the talk. If you can't imagine that, then you should suck it up like he did during that time.
posted by mediareport at 8:27 PM on May 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

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