Roommate Filter: How Should We handle talking with our roommates about the monthly bills?
January 9, 2012 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Roommate Filter: How Should We handle talking with our roommates about the monthly bills?

My girlfriend and I just signed the lease on a basement apartment, one where there is no actual kitchen, so we share that living space with our upstairs roommates.

For some background, we moved into a central city location with 3 dogs, which turned out to be a nightmare. Between pet rent and deposits we were forced to look for a more creative living situation. We turned to Craigslist and found a pair of sisters, living in their grandfather's home that had no problem with a third dog, and agreed to rent to us.

When it came time to sign the lease it turned out that their father (also the property manager for the grandfather) had written up a lease including only two dogs and a requirement to notify each roommate if a guest is going to stay more than 48 hours, as well as other general rules regarding guests. The sisters both said not to mention our third dog because it was just a formality, and that they have people stay over all the time.

Well now it has been 3 months and one of the sisters boyfriend has been living here 100% of the time, something that, day to day, doesn't bother us in the slightest. We have been following the terms of our lease, written up by the father that had no idead the boyfriend is over every night, and splitting the bills up 50/50. Over these three months my girlfriend and I have realized that if we split the bills up 5 ways, and include our new roomie (that is not on the lease) in the totals, that we would save $60-75 a month.

Do we have to suck it up and adhere to the lease, or do we have a right to approach or roommates in this situation? FWIW, I don't suspect that they will be very approachable about this.

We are looking at you, Hivemind, for advice. Not just for what to do, but how to best handle the situation. Thanks in advance!
posted by sneakyalien to Human Relations (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You have the right to approach the housemates if they're bound by the same lease you are (it's not clear from your description whether they are, given that the house belongs to their father). However, if you value harmony in your shared living space, I wouldn't mention it. If the boyfriend isn't bothering you, good relations with your housemates are worth way more than $75 a month.
posted by decathecting at 12:42 PM on January 9, 2012 [9 favorites]

Is saving $60-75 a month worth jeopardizing your ability to keep your third dog? In your situation I think I would just suck it up, especially since you don't think they'll be amenable to this.

If the sister with the boyfriend breaks up, do things get re-calculated again? Just leave it alone.
posted by ambrosia at 12:43 PM on January 9, 2012 [11 favorites]

Does the boyfriend have his own place that he's also paying rent and bills on? It probably shouldn't matter, but he probably doesn't think of himself as living there if he has another place. Personally, it can't hurt to maybe bring the subject up, but I wouldn't make a huge deal about it. I'd just wait it out because of that situation continues for much longer, I imagine that they're going to move out and get their own place. Just the economics of the two of them both paying rent while basically living together is going to dictate that.

If he doesn't have his own place, then yes, he should at the very least help cover the cost of bills and whatever other upkeep costs, if not the rent...
posted by empath at 12:43 PM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

you both have something not on the lease that you're "getting away with." let sleeping dogs lie (haha).
posted by nadawi at 12:45 PM on January 9, 2012 [9 favorites]

I would just let it go You have a safe living space for your dogs, why are you trying to make waves?
posted by crankylex at 12:45 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

The house is owned by their family, so if the boat gets rocked, chances are, you're the ones Landlord Dad will toss out. I'd leave it be.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:59 PM on January 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Unless that extra $60-75 is necessary for your survival, do not bother asking about it. I agree with those who say that addressing this will most likely be much more trouble than it's worth.

If it's not the money, it's that you feel like it's unfair, I think you should just let that go. It's not *that* unfair.
posted by mskyle at 1:03 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure how what they do affects your lease. Does it say that you are splitting things 4 ways specifically -- or is it two ways (them paying 50% and you paying 50%?

If so, then you may have some sort of argument to make theoretically. But I've never had a shared lease that got into specifics like that. Chances are - you have their lease and they (may) have theirs. I guess what I'm saying is are you sure the terms of their lease have the same rules?

But even if I knew the answers to these questions were favorable, I wouldn't rock this boat. At all.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:10 PM on January 9, 2012

I just crunched some numbers and it seems like, unless your bills are astronomical, you must mean that you and your girlfriend would save $60-75 between the both of you. E.g., $600 a month in bills divided five ways versus four ways would result in a $30 lower payment per person.

An extra $30 a month per person does not seem like that big a deal (though this of course depends on your financial situation), but asking your roommate's boyfriend to pay $120 every month to stay with his girlfriend WILL make waves. I would also just suck it up, unless you decide this is a big enough deal to risk poisoning your roommate relationship and moving out over it.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 1:12 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks everybody! It feels good to be talked down from the ledge. We figured that letting it go was the best thing to do in this situation, but a fresh move to a new city and finding new jobs turned the heat up financially, and over the past couple of months that $60 would have made a difference.

But in the end new, well-paying jobs have been found and so that $60 per month won't mean as much. Everybody's reply was very helpful, but I'm going to mark nadawi as the best answer, just for the chuckle!! Thanks again!
posted by sneakyalien at 1:16 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, basic roommate ground rules are pretty clear: if someone's bf/gf is living there more than half the time, they need to be paying rent and a share of the water, heat, electric, cable, etc. You're absolutely right to question the bf's non-payment; it's in a different class from the dog thing.

you both have something not on the lease that you're "getting away with."

Yeah, but the poster and the sisters are both getting away with their respective things at dad's expense. The bf is *also* getting away with something, but if he's showering & using electricity, what he's getting away with is at the housemates' expense. Not right. That said, yeah, best to let it go. You'd be first in line to be asked to leave if there's conflict.
posted by mediareport at 1:31 PM on January 9, 2012

you get the basic ground rules when you go through the leasing agent bureaucratic channels. when you find a house share on craigslist and you are sharing that house with the children of your landlord, a lot of those ground rules don't apply. this helps in some cases (as with pet deposits) and sucks in other ways (as in, the daughter's boyfriend).

i'm glad we talked you down! i hope your new jobs are awesome. also, you should post a picture of the dogs!
posted by nadawi at 2:25 PM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

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