Roommate's GF has effectively moved in... what to do?
October 16, 2012 2:05 PM   Subscribe

At what point is a roommate's SO effectively considered "moved in"? And how do you deal with that?

I (24m) live in a two bedroom apartment with my wife (20f) and a friend of mine (23m).

About 4 months ago he has begun dating a girl (27f). Since about 2 months ago she has been spending the night at the apartment nearly every single night. They tend to stay up late, going to bed around 1-3 in the morning. My wife and I go to bed during the weekdays around 10-11pm for work/school. They're not terribly loud, to me, but they sometimes keep my wife up for an hour or two once we've hit the sack (talking, laughing, opening/closing doors, cooking, etc.)

Right now we split the rent ($700) between us so that he pays $300 and we pay $400. I work full time, as does my friend. My wife takes a heavy courseload at school so she doesn't work most of the year. His girlfriend works 2 jobs (as a therapist and part time waitress.)

Me and my wife don't feel comfortable with her being around so much without at least moving in and helping out with the rent. Although my wife would prefer that she not move in period and just spend more time at her own place (partially because of the noise issue, partially because his girlfriend is basically a stranger to us.) If she moved in I feel it would be somewhat inequitable (because they both work) even if we split the rent evenly between us couples, so there's that too.

I'm not exactly sure how to handle this situation and would appreciate advice or personal experiences to gain some insight on what to do.
posted by symbollocks to Home & Garden (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would talk to the friend and ask that his girlfriend stay the night less. You can mention the noise issues and the difficulty negotiating with a stranger (the gf), but it's reasonable all on its own to ask that she go home more often, or that he stays with her at her place once in awhile.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:09 PM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

You need to think about what you want:
- Do you want more money for rent (a difference of maybe 50 bucks)?
- Do you want the apartment to yourself more often?
- Do you want more assistance from your roomie and gf in cleaning/maintaining the home?
- Do you want more reasonable quiet hours?

After you hone in on what it is that you and your wife really want (that is, what change would make you feel better), you are better equipped to talk to him and come up with an equitable solution.
posted by mochapickle at 2:11 PM on October 16, 2012 [26 favorites]

You should talk talk to your roommate about staying up late and talking loudly. This has nothing to do with the SO in particular, but about how you all live together. Even if the SO is just a friend who's visiting a lot, it is a thing that should be discussed.

If your roommate's SO is not paying rent, and there has been no discussion of what's going on, you should have a discussion (separate one from above). State your case. It's valid to say the space is too small for 4 people, or that you're not comfortable living with someone you don't know very well, or that you seem to have different sleep schedules and you just don't think it's the optimal solution for everybody. Request that your friend stays at his SO's house some times.

When I started dating my partner, we'd stay 4 nights at his apartment (more convenient for his work) and 3 nights at my house. I also made sure I wasn't using the bathroom when his roommate wanted it, and occasionally did the extra dirty dishes left by the roommate. An extra person in the house is a burden, regardless of how much you like that person, and it's absolutely reasonable to ask for accommodations.

If you have this talk, though, your friend might decide to move out altogether. Would you be okay with that? (Or would rent be an issue?)
posted by ethidda at 2:13 PM on October 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

Me and my wife don't feel comfortable with her being around so much without at least moving in and helping out with the rent.

I find this kind of weirdly presumptuous. Maybe they don't want to move in together? Maybe one of them senses this is a kind of thing that will not last forever? Maintaining separate places can be a really important thing for people entering into relationships. It's an escape hatch, and I wouldn't push for her to move in.

I do think it's fair to ask them to spend some time at her place. If there is some reason (geography, roommate issues) that makes that less than ideal, they can explain that, and maybe be more cognizant that they are always over at your place, and be quieter after hours.

How you guys agree to split the rent is up to you. I'm not sure how working or not working makes splitting the rent evenly inequitable.

Is the roommates girlfriend around when the roommate is not? Does your wife need space or quiet to study? These are fair points to discuss.
posted by ambrosia at 2:14 PM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Who's employed where and how is irrelevant. The only reason you should be subsidizing their unemployment/underemployment would be if you were in a mutually supportive relationship, which is not what this sounds like.

I mean, if your roommate's girlfriend were fully employed and your wife lost her position, then would you expect your roommate to subsidize you?
posted by endless_forms at 2:14 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's none of your business whether your friend covers his girlfriend's rent.

It is your business whether you're happy with the way things are going in your shared apartment. Why not talk to your roommate about how things are going? It might make sense, at this point, for either you and your wife to find a subletter for your room and move to a new place, or for him to find a subletter for his room and move to a new place. Or, it might make sense to just clear the air and say that the noise he and his girlfriend make is bothering you, and ask them to balance their time between their respective apartments more evenly. I suspect that you're working from one set of expectations about how this living arrangement should work out, while he's working from a different set of expectations--in particular, I wonder if he's got an attitude (conscious or not) of, "I'm fine living down the hall from a couple, why would it be a problem for them if my girlfriend is around?"
posted by Meg_Murry at 2:25 PM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

It might make sense, at this point, for either you and your wife to find a subletter for your room and move to a new place, or for him to find a subletter for his room and move to a new place.

This makes sense to me too except that one of the wife's objections is against "living with strangers." That makes this problem infinitely harder. But it would also be unfair to obstruct the friend's romantic life just because it's easy for the OP and wife.
posted by ethidda at 2:29 PM on October 16, 2012

Our old college rule was that if they were showering there, and eating there, then they lived there and should be paying for shared facilities.

If they are being noisy, ask them to quiet down. It's hard to be 'confrontational' like this but it's pretty necessary when negotiating shared housing.
posted by muddgirl at 2:31 PM on October 16, 2012 [7 favorites]

(Not, like, showering once in a while, but spending every night and showering every morning, rather than leaving early and showering at their place.)
posted by muddgirl at 2:32 PM on October 16, 2012

Yeah, I join those finding the situation a bit weird.

You're not splitting the rent by people living there, or you'd be paying more than 400. If you're spllitting the rent evenly, it's 350. You don't determine rent splits by "well my wife doesn't work and his girlfriend does, so he should have to pay more."

It sounds like you have resentment around this issue - otherwise it'd be simple. "Hey, you guys have been pretty noisy, can you cool it down? Also, I think it'd be more fair to split rent down the middle." It doesn't really matter if his girlfriend isn't paying a dime - your wife isn't either, right? This isn't about the girlfriend, this is about you and him.
posted by corb at 2:38 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

prior to the gf, i think it's irrelevant how you and your wife split the rent with your roommate—whatever you have arranged is what you have arranged. but given that his new gf essentially lives there now, you do need to have a discussion with him about splitting the rent 50/50 now bc his girlfriend essentially lives there. but if this isn't about the money, then you need to let your roommate know that you didn't sign on to live with a couple—just one other roommate—and that he needs to be spending at least half the week at his girlfriend's place (assuming she has one).
posted by violetk at 2:47 PM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Good point, ethidda, but I'd say that, at a certain point, you can't have everything and have to choose from the following:
  • You can have an apartment with a roommate who's a friend, but he has a girlfriend whom he likes to have stay over--the exact frequency of her visits may be negotiable, but I suspect that whatever compromise you reach will still be more than you prefer.
  • You can have a conversation with the current roommate about having his girlfriend move in as an official roommate who contributes to rent and utilities, but you need to be prepared for him to say, "Awesome, yes! She'll move in," and also be prepared for the possibility that he'll pay her share himself.
  • You can have an apartment with a subletter (possibly a stranger) and the understanding from the beginning that an overnight guest every night isn't ok.
  • You can have a new apartment with no roommates, but it will likely be smaller and/or more expensive than your current place.
Which of these options is most appealing?
posted by Meg_Murry at 2:49 PM on October 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

Regarding how to split the rent: I understand that to the OP and the wife, it's not worth an extra $50/month to have a 4th person, who's a virtual stranger, live in the house. They would much rather pay the extra $50/month or get a "significant discount" (maybe a hundred or two a month) for it to be worth the hassle/discomfort/inconvenience.

However, this is not fair to the roommate. Cost of housing is both about the space and how many people are using it. So, yes, 2 people in one bedroom should pay more than 1 person in one bedroom, but not as much as 2 people in two bedrooms. However, if you become a two couple house, you should share rent equally (unless one of the couple's spaces is significantly larger, better, etc).

Also, OP, realize that your choices may not be whether the SO moves in or not, but whether your roommate and his SO live with you and your wife, or if you have to find someone else to rent with (or pay more rent or move elsewhere).

on preview: @Meg_Murry, yes, that's what I was trying to say, actually.
posted by ethidda at 2:50 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can't ask for concessions right now because the way you currently split the rent with your friend is inequitable towards him! You've got quite a deal going at his expense, and I think you know it.

If the rent were split 1/3rd his share, 2/3rd's you and wife share, THEN you could make reasonable requests of your roommate.

If your roommate's noise is keeping the wife up, she can politely ask roommate to be quieter. He may or may not make the effort to comply.

But that is all you two are due at this moment from your roommate.

As a means to an ends, you can suggest splitting the rent fairly 3 or 4 equal ways, depending on his view of GF's presence within the household. No matter what, you and wife should suck it up and pay your fair share of the rent from now on. After taking on a fairer share of the rent, you may then re-visit the issue of his GF staying less often.

That's all I see here. You are taking advantage by making him pay part of your wife's way, and that has likely lead to him and his GF using the shared space without much conscious consideration towards you and your wife.
posted by jbenben at 2:51 PM on October 16, 2012 [7 favorites]

I would just ask "Why don't you ever spend that night at ____'s place? - you know it would be kinda nice for us not to have 4 of us here so much".
posted by mary8nne at 2:56 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Hey Fred. You know that we really like Esmerelda, right? But we wanted to talk to you about her being around so much. We're concerned that with her being here because of the utilities especially water. Also the potential for her to eat our common food, etc. And, more than that, the addition of another person adds to the busy-ness of the house- one more person to wait in line for the bathroom, more noise, another person to choose what is on the TV, you know? And especially since Esmerelda is on a different schedule than Wife and myself, it just adds to everything.

I know that we didn't really discuss this possibility when you moved in, so I didn't know how to bring this up.

Can we sit down and figure out some solutions to these issues?"

And then come up with some!

- maybe girlfriend pays for some?
- maybe they sleep at her house sometimes?
- maybe he moves out?

but at least they'll probably be more considerate...
posted by k8t at 3:06 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

You're not going to convince him that she should spend less time with him. And when it comes to whose place they sleep at, your concerns are going to be very low on their priority.

You can, however, ask them to be quiet. They can be quiet inside, or go outside and whoop it up. That has nothing to do with his relationship. If he brought friends home to drink beer with, you'd be entitled to ask them to drink it quietly.

You are never, never going to win if you make a guy choose between making the woman he's sleeping with happy, and making you happy. But you can demand common roommate consideration.
posted by musofire at 3:06 PM on October 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

Since about 2 months ago she has been spending the night at the apartment nearly every single night.

Yes, she's living with you now. That may not be a permanent thing, and you definitely can bring up whether, in general, you are comfortable with this arrangement. You can even negotiate what would be an acceptable number of nights a week for her to sleep over, if that works.

They tend to stay up late, going to bed around 1-3 in the morning. My wife and I go to bed during the weekdays around 10-11pm for work/school. They're not terribly loud, to me, but they sometimes keep my wife up for an hour or two once we've hit the sack (talking, laughing, opening/closing doors, cooking, etc.)

This is a totally separate issue, from where I'm standing. You guys should both be comfortable asking your roommate and any guests to keep it down if noise is disturbing you. Period.

Me and my wife don't feel comfortable with her being around so much without at least moving in and helping out with the rent.

That sounds totally fair. That said, I don't think it would be fair for you guys as a couple to profit off his girlfriend living there. I'd suggest that you collectively come up with a fair amount of money for her to contribute to utilities, and then leave it up to Roommate and Girlfriend as to how to split their share of the rent. Or maybe she pays the $100 difference between your rent and his rent, leaving you guys even and her paying a slightly smaller proportion of rent since she doesn't formally live there per se. The latter would assume that you guys share the space equally and have identical access, identical amount of square footage, etc. I guess what I'm getting at here is that, whatever you come with, just remember to be fair.

If she moved in I feel it would be somewhat inequitable (because they both work) even if we split the rent evenly between us couples, so there's that too.

This is a little bit silly. If Girlfriend formally moves in and lives in the house just like everyone else, the four of you should split the rent equally (again, assuming everyone has equal access to the space). Why should you and your wife get a break because one of you doesn't work? My landlord doesn't charge me less rent if I lose my job. I would be insulted if I moved into a house share and was charged rent based on my income rather than my use of the space.
posted by Sara C. at 3:51 PM on October 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

Are both you and the roommate on the lease?

The roommate's gf certainly isn't. Most leases I have seen have restrictions on how long a "guest" can stay in an apartment. Could be that you guys are now defacto in violation of your lease if she is over there EVERY night. You might want to check into that.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:55 PM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

If GF spent less than half the time there, I'd say just drop it; I could consider her still a guest IF she spent three nights a week OR LESS there. But since she spends 'almost every night' in your apartment, then yes: she's moved in, and that means each couple should be paying half the rent plus half the cleaning supplies and food. If utilities (water, electric, etc.) are not included in the rent, then those should be split 50-50 too.

And yes, you're justified in asking, NICELY, if they could be a little quieter when you and your wife are trying to sleep.
posted by easily confused at 4:14 PM on October 16, 2012

Keys. It's the landlord's definition of someone moving in and seems to be fairly noticed.

My read was that you and your wife are paying $200 a person, and he's paying $300. You and wife sound attached to business as usual; you're living with a single man with an active libido.

There was a time when I went through lots of these discussions with the roommate. "You go to bed too late and keep me up" is the same as "you go to bed too early and force me to be quiet."

I would have a long hard think about the situation before saying something, for as mentioned, you guys sound attached to a good deal that's really in your favour based on the pricing.

Maybe it's time y'all moved into a married couple environment (read: your own place) or wife gets earplugs. Beware the intoxicating combination of 'a good deal' and 'business as usual' with the potentially explosive response from a man in love who's paying more per person.
posted by nickrussell at 4:17 PM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Move. Seriously, just move.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 6:49 PM on October 16, 2012

I'm with Sara C. that it's irrelevant that his girlfriend works.
Is there a financial reason you can't get your own place? It sounds like you and your wife would be happier that way.
Do you know what your housemate's girlfriend's home is like? Maybe there is a reason that they can't spend time there. I think asking whether they can spend some time at her place is appropriate, as is asking whether they can be quieter, but I doubt you will have luck asking her to pay rent when your housemate pays almost half the rent already himself.
posted by mlle valentine at 8:14 PM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

She's not living with you. She's living there when you move your couch to incorporate her couch into the living room and you rearrange the kitchen cabinets so that she has someplace to put her dishes. If she's living out of her bag and a borrowed drawer in her boyfriend's bedroom, she doesn't live there. Even if she has a toothbrush living in the bathroom.

You seem to want it both ways -- you-and-your-wife as a unit pay a little more, so you get to call the shots, yet it would be inequitable to go halves on the rent with the unit of your roommate-and-his-girlfriend because they both work.

It seems to me that the thing that would yield the greatest benefit for the least effort is to just ask your roommate to keep it down after you go to bed. And to get to know his girlfriend a little better, because once you're not basically strangers, it will be natural for her to go a few extra steps toward not disturbing you.
posted by desuetude at 12:04 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

2 months of being there all the time and she is still a stranger? Do you or they hide in a bedroom the whole time only coming out for air and water and food? Get a few bottles of wine and throw some food on the stove and open a dialogue with this couple or the lingering resentment in this weird-rent apartment will just continue to fester.

And damn, this guy is probably happy as hell right now, don't throw a bucket of cold water trying to make her move in while they are still seeing hearts float in the air when they look at each other. Aaaand, she might have a whole lot of stuff and your apartment would look like something from Hoarders and then you'll miss the good ole salad days when she was just spending the evenings there.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 7:12 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was in a similar situation as the girlfriend in that I basically lived with my GF but maintained my own place at the same time as she had a roommate, I payed a cut of some of the bills but it was never asked of either of us by the roommate, that's not to say it wouldn't be fair to ask.

But to be honest your two main problems are the noise and the fact she's a stranger. so:

A) Ask them to keep it down, there's a good chance she already appreciates that she's there a lot and jump at any chance to make nice.

B) Get to know her, then she's not a stranger any more

Problem solved, if you can get a discount on rent and bills out of it as well then that's a bonus, but your wife working on not working counts for precisely nothing when it comes to who pays what (or it would if it was me, at least).
posted by purplemonkeydishwasher at 7:27 AM on October 17, 2012

Has her presence affected utility bills? I was once asked to chip in at a boyfriend's place because water and electric had gone up with extra showers, etc.
I totally agree, though, that she's not "moved in" until she's asked you to accommodate her stuff, making space for her stuff in the kitchen, etc. At this point, she's presumably paying rent on an apartment she doesn't really use; if you ask her to contribute, she's likely to really move in. When following mochapickle's spot-on advice to think about what it is you want, consider: do you want her to stop paying rent someplace else, move all her stuff in with you, rearrange the living room, have equal roommate bargaining rights about setting the quiet hours and other expectations for the apartment? Or are you actually happier with her not having a real vote, being able to say "gosh, could you two hold it down in there or take it to her place?"
posted by aimedwander at 7:41 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you did not discuss the issue of significant others staying over before moving in with a single person, your roommate seems within his rights to have his GF over as often as he wants.

The issue, at least as you described it, seems to be not how often she stays over per se, but when she is there they make noise and take up space together when you are trying to go to bed. It is reasonable to discuss "quiet hours" or fair use of shared space and it's reasonable to mention the possibility that they go to her place once in a while.

If they've only been dating for four months it seems kind of soon to be considering moving in together, although you may want to discuss that issue now since it may come up and you want to have some groundrules set ahead of time. As for rent/helping out, you might mention to your roommate that while you don't expect her to chip in for rent it would be nice if she helped out a little bit with chores or cleaning.
posted by forkisbetter at 12:25 PM on October 17, 2012

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