Business Advice for the Mathematically Challenged, Redux
June 7, 2011 3:11 AM   Subscribe

Please help me figure out the logical way to divide subletting revenues with my partner.

I joined forces with a partner to rent a workspace. There are 3 rooms and therefore the possibility for 3 people to work simultaneously in the space. So far we have split all expenses, responsibilities and decisions 50-50, and plan to continue to do so. As of September, I would like to use the space 5 days a week; my partner wants to use it 3 days a week. We will also be subletting as much of the free time as we can to other colleagues.

My question is: How should the income from subletting be divided? My partner feels she should receive a bigger percentage because she's working in the space less than I am. I don't agree with this, but I'm having a hard time articulating why. Wouldn't an uneven income distribution make me more of a subletter than a lease-holder? I feel I'd be losing one of the major advantages of being responsible for the place -- which is why I decided to pony up the money and take the risk in the first place, rather than just subletting somewhere else.

I really must have been daydreaming when they taught us this kind of problem-solving in school, because I just can't get my head around it. Thanks in advance for your input.
posted by Paris Elk to Work & Money (9 answers total)
Split the income from the third room 50/50 and make that room the first one you sublet. After the first room is filled, either you or your partner is free to sublet your room and keep 100% if the income.
posted by griseus at 3:21 AM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

You have Room A. She has Room B. You share Room C.

On the days that you aren't working, you can sublet Room A and keep the proceeds. On the days that she isn't working, she can sublet Room B and keep the proceeds. Room C can always be sublet, so any time there's the chance of a subletter, they go into Room C and you split the proceeds 50:50. If there is someone in Room C and there's another subletter, flip a coin to see which room they go in. If they go in Room A, then you get the money, etc.
posted by Solomon at 3:49 AM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you're both paying equally for the space and you have it fully booked then yes, she should get more income from the subletters. If she's using the space for only 3 days, thats 2 more days (compared to your usage) that the space can be let - she should get the income for 'her room' for those 2 days. If you're not making extra income from her only using the space for 3 days then you should split the income evenly.
posted by missmagenta at 4:21 AM on June 7, 2011

"Business" doesn't always equate to one answer. You can come up with a dozen apportioning schemes. Is the math really that difficult?

The issue here isn't the math, it's the interpretation of fairness.

Here's the business challenge... how much money are you talking about for the various alternatives. Hundreds of dollars difference per month or scores of dollars? How are you going to spend that money?

If your partner isn't worth a few score bux a month to keep happy, then I'll leave it to you to determine what that means. At the same time, if this is a fairness issue and it involves less than $100 a month, it's noise but it's not noise I'd want coming from my engine. I'd give in and dig in my heels next time, but make sure partner knows that in advance.

Personally, I sense in the 'me, me, me' nature of the question some subtext that is probably finding expression in your office mate's attitude. That's why I don't go into business with any yahoo who wants to... I'd marry people I wouldn't go into business with.

The issue is how you resolve conflict. Win/win or winner take all; positions or principles? Maturity answers questions like this; calculators don't. Even advanced algebra has no operators or symbols for emotions and attitudes.
posted by FauxScot at 5:20 AM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Maybe treat leased space as a separate business, which you co-own. And then have the enterprise rent you the rooms individually. I know it is sort of moving money from one pocket to another, but this kind of thing can get out of whack quickly and ruin friendships. Set up the rules early and as simply as possible. BTW: using the space, storing stuff in the space, and expecting immediate use of the space all all really the same thing, as each situation prevents the use of the space by others.
posted by Classic Diner at 7:34 AM on June 7, 2011

Everybody pays in, including the two of you. 3 rooms, 7 days a week at full capacity generate $X revenue, right? You guys split the revenue between you 50-50. It's irrelevant that you each have expenditure on the side. If you two pay in for your days and then divide the revenue 50-50 then you can come and go as you please.
posted by amanda at 10:08 AM on June 7, 2011

Just in case anyone is still watching this thread...

The solutions from griseus, solomon and missmagenta are what I'm looking for. Thanks! But can someone please clarify why it's important to sublet the third room first?

We have two bigger rooms and one smaller, and two different prices based on this size difference; the smaller one is not necessarily the one being sublet first. How can I explain the significance of this to my partner?
posted by Paris Elk at 1:19 AM on June 20, 2011

I said to sublet the third room first because that's the "community" room, and so you fill it first (giving both of you income) before filling your individual rooms. Help the partnership, then help yourselves. That way there won't be hard feelings about someone working too hard to fill their own room and not hard enough to fill the community room.
posted by griseus at 5:15 AM on June 21, 2011

Thanks griseus.
posted by Paris Elk at 12:11 PM on June 22, 2011

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