How do I deal with this money related situation with an ex-roommate?
October 23, 2012 10:23 PM   Subscribe

How to deal a money issue with roommate who has just moved out- never contributed to household cleaning/supplies and did not clean after moving out their things.

Roommate who just moved out has utilities in their name- they are expecting to be paid around $50 this coming Friday.

I'm very reluctant to pay them because there has been such an imbalance in the household chores and buying of supplies. They have also used detergent that did not belong to them and was plainly labeled, thrown out food that was not theirs/expired, and left their pet's urine in the house for weeks before cleaning it up. I've cleaned up after their pet several times a month (it even pooped in the house- potty trained but severe separation anxiety) and done the bulk of the household chores.

I've addressed all of these issues with them and have never been able to come to a resolution with them. Usually they would say that they'll clean and help out- so I'd put off cleaning (sweeping the floor/taking out the trash/spraying down BR) until the house would reek and be unbearable to live in. I'm not OCD- the other roommate feels the same and knows for a fact that there has been no change/attempt to help out.

Most times they would give excuses saying that they're too busy/tired/no time to do anything. I told them plainly that it was a matter of prioritizing and asked that they help out with a few items around the house before they moved out. In the least sweep up the dirt/debris that would be tracked into the house when people would come to help move furniture/boxes.

I came home last Friday and saw that they had family/friends help with the move, they finished by mid afternoon and left without sweeping any of the floors. Our landlord allowed them till Monday to complete the move so the new roommate would be able to begin moving in/painting. So I thought I would also wait till Monday to see if they'd return to grab a box and sweep up the dirt.
I should mention that I had asked them to clean prior to that Friday, written a note after the move (And I know for a fact that they received it) and texted them with specific concerns after the note went ignored. Their fern had shed all over the floor and when they moved out their table there was a dried pee puddle that their dog had left. No clue how long it's been there.
I texted them on Sunday to confirm whether they would be back to the house for a final haul (and clean up after that) but they told me that they had gotten all of their belongings out of the house. So I asked if they would be returning to clean up and got no response.
I sent another text alerting them that I would be charging them a cleaning fee- whatever my portion of the utilities would be. With a new roommate moving in and simply having to live in the house I couldn't wait around with leaves, dirt and pee littering the house. I waited till the end of the day and cleaned the house after 4 days of waiting.

Now they're upset because we had never come to an agreement. I know that it's not a nice thing to do. But I've been trying to have house meetings and have had several conversations where i request that they help out with a chore/buying TP/anything! My share of the utilities if $55.
I know it won't break their bank, and feel like it would cover the costs of the supplies they used around the house.
Am I just too resentful to see the situation clearly? I've always been a pushover and have had a difficult time with confrontation so the level of communication and persistent talks I've pushed on the topic has surprised me.
Help me figure out what to do! I'm not friends with this person and am perfectly happy to never have to speak to/see them again. I'm just glad they're finally out of the house. Sorry it's so long and jumbled!

We have individual leases with the landlord for our rooms and each have a utility in our own name- they happen to have the electric/water (which was shut off and is still not on because they did not communicate with us about transferring the service). The landlord was very clear that the utilities/other household day to day things would be between the roommates.
posted by penpenne to Human Relations (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
They moved out and left a mess, and they got the utility that was in their name shut off? Don't give this person any money at all! They are way out of line. Moreso about the electric being shut off than the cleaning stuff.
posted by katypickle at 10:31 PM on October 23, 2012 [6 favorites]

You should pay them the money they are owed. I don't see that you have an agreement to pay for half the utilities in exchange for cleaning. They're not related even though the bad roommate is involved in both.

Also, when you expect something from somebody, don't give them into the last minute, especially if they have a history of laziness and if waiting means your house will be a mess.
posted by michaelh at 10:47 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I suspect you spent more time writing this post than it would have taken to sweep and mop the floor. That's no good. Keeping score never ended up making anyone happy.

Don't let yourself get frazzled because of a principle. People don't move out and leave a mess like that unless they hold a grudge, and always a grudge not worth dissecting. So take a deep breath, then take 30 minutes and tidy up the floors and common areas to welcome your new roommate. Heck, sprinkle some holy water and burn some sage and do a little exorcism on the space if that makes sense.

If the individual asks you for utility payment, reply that you cleaned up after them and consider it even. If he/she asks again, send your portion and be done with it.

You'll find it's not worth dwelling on it.
posted by mochapickle at 10:57 PM on October 23, 2012 [12 favorites]

Morally and ethically you are in the right, and I understand your withholding the money, but legally I doubt you have a leg to stand on here.

You could always make up an invoice and send it, something like:

Utilities refund: $50
Cleaning costs: $25
Fee for restoring electricity/water: $25
Total balanced owed by (former roommate): 0.00
Total balance due to (former roommate): 0.00

That would make sense to me.
posted by misha at 11:02 PM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

If your goal is to not speak to this cat ever again, pay him and move on. If you are looking to have some fun with this cat, tell him you are working on it, wait 10 days and send him $39. Wait for his response. Then if he asks for balance send it to him in a week.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:05 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Consider the $50 a one-time "never have to deal with shitty roommate again" fee. In that context, $50 dollars is a steal.

If there's one situation in life where swallowing you pride is a virtue it's dealing with roommates. If fifty bucks isn't going to hurt you then pay them their money to go away.

(I don't think you'd be a bad person if you decided not to pay them out of spite, but just weigh carefully whether the fallout from that is worth $50 of your time)
posted by no regrets, coyote at 11:31 PM on October 23, 2012 [24 favorites]

Keep that email telling you that they have removed all their property! Then? Haul the rest of their junk to the trash. Done.

Pay the utility --- as no regrets, coyote says, it's a 'never have to deal with them again' fee, and it sounds like it's worth the price.
posted by easily confused at 4:04 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Eh, I'd send them the invoice and not pay them. Leaving poop and pee is not acceptable moving out behavior, and the next landlord will charge them way more than $50.

In fact, they are putting your security deposit at risk with their irresponsible and gross behavior.
posted by snickerdoodle at 4:17 AM on October 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

I'd pay. I've had this roommate like, six different times. Some people (until they live alone) think cleaning supplies and such pay for themselves. The protracted fight is not worth it.
posted by murfed13 at 4:54 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had a roommate battle at my old place. I accidentally took his cutting board when I packed instead of mine (a friend grabbed the wrong one). I really wanted to lie and throw it out as a way of getting back at him for all the crap he'd put me through, but I decided it wasn't worth it. I boxed it up, dropped it at the house, and having him completely out of my life is way more worth it.

So yeah, you're roommate sucked. But if you look at what will make your life better in the long run, it's going to be the thing that gets this person completely out of your life the soonest.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:02 AM on October 24, 2012

I call this stupid tax, as in:

"Oh I was stupid to get into this situation"

I pay it and avoid being that particular type of stupid again.
posted by French Fry at 6:23 AM on October 24, 2012

Keeping the $50 will keep that person in your life in an antagonistic state for a long, long time. Paying the $50 will slightly hurt your pride, but rid you of any connection to that person.

Which would you rather have?
posted by blue_beetle at 9:29 AM on October 24, 2012

Do NOT pay this dirtbag! They have handed you well over $50 worth of chores to do while living with you. If they ask again, tell them to sue you for it, and then hang up on them. (Hint: they will never do is MUCH more of a PITA than 50 bucks is worth) The bluntness will ensure that you never have to speak to them again. You've been living with cat pee all over the place for HOW long? And YOU had to clean it up? Screw that. NOT. ONE. DIME. Trust me, after your Nth time playing maid to a lazy roommate, you'll see the pattern...and it won't stop happening to you until you stop rewarding it.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:40 AM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm on the side of not paying; send an invoice, don't bother answering their emails. I doubt they'll bother you for $50.

If so, you can always give it to them--in change.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:43 AM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Cleaning supplies from last month, and prior aggravations are a lost cause. How much time will it take to clean up the current mess? Charge 20/hour, and give ex-roomie an itemized note with expenses for cleaning against electricity cost. Then let it go.
posted by theora55 at 5:46 PM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone! I decided to send them an invoice letting them know that I was charging $20 for cleaning, time and supplies. So I will be giving them $37.77 and a copy of that message.
They replied saying they are expecting the full amount ($57.77) or they will be taking legal actions.
posted by penpenne at 8:40 AM on October 25, 2012

They're so lazy they can't clean up after themselves but are going to file in small claims court for $20? Before, I thought they were maybe just clueless and young, but now they're being assholes who apparently don't understand how the legal system works. I'd honestly just ignore them from here on out
posted by snickerdoodle at 8:52 AM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

ugh...disgusting. PLEASE do not give them even one will just encourage more dirtbaggery being foisted upon the world at large. Though I admire your impulse to 'do the right thing', sometimes the 'right thing' is to treat yourself, your time, and your energy with the respect it deserves. This is one of those times.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:03 PM on October 25, 2012

Had a quick question/update. I tried to pay my ex-roommate but they wouldn't take the money because it was not the full amount (In person. With them calling me a thief, bad tenant. etc.)

So I was unable to pay them since they refused the money.
They sent me a certified letter demanding the portion of the utilities (My portion is actually closer to $40) or else they would pursue legal action.
Would their case hold up at all?
I haven't paid them since they refused the money. I have witnesses who saw me trying to give them the money and them not taking it. I don't want this to bite me in the ass because they'd file small claims out of spite. Thanks!
posted by penpenne at 2:52 PM on November 17, 2012

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