Should I stay or should I go?
November 12, 2012 7:48 PM   Subscribe

My roommate situation is becoming untenable. Should I ride out the storm or leave? What is the best way to bail? Snowflakes inside.

My roommate and I have been living together for over a year.

Things have been tense for most of our time together. She's very unpredictable; I never know what mood she's going to be in when I come home. Sometimes she's friendly and we have lovely, mutually supportive conversations; sometimes she ignores me for days. She's been generally resentful of my romantic partners and seriously dislikes my current boyfriend (with whom I am very serious); she originally told me that she didn't want him over at all, and eventually relented, but he still feels uncomfortable in our living space.

She plans on moving to another state in May, but also plans on being gone for somewhere between 6 weeks-1 month in the winter, and has made it clear that she does not want to split the utilities 50/50, nor does she want to sublet her room. She's also requested that I put the oil heating bill in my name. This bill is very, very expensive in the winter.

Relevant details: we aren't actually even on a lease right now, because our landlord never asked us to resign, so I technically won't be breaking the lease if I decide to leave. (Right? I'm not clear on this--will I get my security deposit back??) We share many mutual acquaintances and attend the same graduate program.

I'm thinking of throwing caution to the wind and moving into my own place in January. Does this sound like a reasonable course of action? If so, when do I tell her and/or my landlord that I'm planning on leaving? Am I obligated to find a subletter even though I'm not on the lease, or can I wash my hands of the whole situation?

If I decide to stay, what are reasonable expectations involving shared utilities?
posted by munyeca to Human Relations (12 answers total)
Best answer: Check your lease but it is very common for a year lease to become a month-to-month lease upon ending, and either party (you or the landlord) can end the agreement with (again, usually) 30 days notice. This should be spelled out in the lease you originally signed. If this is the case, then notification by the end of the month should (should, isn't necessarily, check your lease) be fine.

If you share a lease, though, it might be a bit funny about one person leaving and the other not. Read the lease, and it would be nice to give you landlord as much notice as possible, and ask questions if you have them. If you terminate your arrangement within the rules, you ought to get your security deposit back (assuming that, you know, you didn't do anything unusually bad to the apt). If you can terminate the lease within the rules, then finding a replacement person would not be on you.
posted by brainmouse at 7:54 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Does this sound like a reasonable course of action? If so, when do I tell her and/or my landlord that I'm planning on leaving? Am I obligated to find a subletter even though I'm not on the lease, or can I wash my hands of the whole situation?

One full rental period prior.
Just walk.
posted by pompomtom at 8:07 PM on November 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'd look over the lease and possibly talk to your landlord about the it (don't mention the roommate issues, just say you're interested in leaving). In many places it's as brainmouse said - the lease turns into a month-to-month and either party (lessor or lessee) can terminate with 30 days notice. So it's not that you're not on a lease, you're just not on a fixed-term lease.

My general advice in most roommate situations is to get the eff out now because they don't get better. Even if both people are being "reasonable" (and I don't think she is), people have different expectations and upbringings and it can be hard to come to a negotiated agreement. Give your 30 days and get out.
posted by radioamy at 8:10 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Update: I looked over the lease and it is indeed month-to-month after the first year; I've asked my landlord to clarify what would happen if only one of the lease-signers left.
posted by munyeca at 8:29 PM on November 12, 2012

Best answer: Look for the phrases "jointly and severally liable" in your lease. If this is the case, he can come after either one of you for the rent. (Of course, even if this particular verbiage isn't in there, it might still be the case. Really, a careful reading of the lease is in order.)
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:04 PM on November 12, 2012

Memail me with your jurisdiction/location if your landlord won't accomodate you fully with 30 days notice.

That said, without even knowing where you are, your landlord should accomodate you.

Nthing you should not mention the roommate dramaz to your landlord.
posted by jbenben at 10:51 PM on November 12, 2012

If you don't have to stay, why would you? I wonder if you are looking for a friend more than a roommate, and you and her may see the roommate situation a bit differently. In that case, you should live with someone who wants the same friendly, supportive living situation. This roommate does not see it the same way. She also sounds slightly unreasonable.

You should talk to the landlord upfront about it. But what might ease the transition for your landlord, your roommate paying rent and ease tensions would be to pitch in on finding a subletter. If you give notice now that you're leaving January, that should be enough time to find a replacement so someone will be ready to move in soon as you leave.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:14 AM on November 13, 2012

If I decide to stay, what are reasonable expectations involving shared utilities?

If her stuff is there while she's gone, she needs to pay all of her portion of the rent.

Utility-wise, I feel it's reasonable for the person who's out of town to continue to pay their half of the utilities for trips under a month.

Given that this might be six weeks, you could, if you were feeling generous, give her a discount on the usage part of the bill (not the fees and taxes); think of it as a "thanks for letting me and my boyfriend have the place to ourselves for a month" premium.

Give her notice now or this weekend that you're moving into your own place and let her decide whether she wants to find a new roommate or also move out herself. If she moves out too, you get the deposit back from the landlord; if she stays, you get the new roommate to pay their security deposit to you (and then that roommate gets it from the landlord when they move out). Make sure your landlord takes your name of the lease.
posted by mgar at 4:36 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

If I were in your shoes, I'd probably want to leave too. But if she's leaving in May anyway, and you hate moving like I do, plus she'll be gone for a month and a half of the remaining 6, that's not too, incredibly bad.

Regarding the utilities for the 6 weeks, if you can swing a little more than half of the electric and water for the 6 weeks, you can offer to take that on, as she won't be using it, and their use does fluctuate significantly with use.

Still, that is more of a congenial discussion to be had and not an ultimatum for her to issue.

With regards to the heating bill, that is a necessary and commonly high expense and although she won't be "enjoying" the heat, it is a reasonable expectation that she should pay her half of this bill based on last year's amounts.

I have been in situations where my car was out of commission for a several weeks waiting for repairs, and I still had to pay my insurance. It's part of the deal.
posted by Debaser626 at 7:12 AM on November 13, 2012

If she's not willing to look into a sublet, it sounds to me like she's buying a really expensive storage space for all her stuff. So she doesn't get out of the heating bill.
posted by freshwater at 7:24 AM on November 13, 2012

Very simple: verify that you're on a month-to-month, tell your roommate that you're not willing to cover her costs while she travels, and give her a deadline to decide whether she's going to pay you in advance* for the rent and utilities while she's gone or she's not, and if she doesn't, give notice accordingly and move out/on.

*given that she's made it clear she doesn't want to pay, it is absolutely reasonable for you to ask for payment in advance for her absences, and to state that you need it in advance because you are unwilling and unable to cover for her, period.
posted by davejay at 8:42 AM on November 13, 2012

Best answer: I say move in January.

You want to move, so why wouldn't you.

Give your landlord 30-days notice. If your roommate wants to resign a new lease, that's her decision to make.

You are not joined at the hip for the rest of your life, especially since you're on a month-to-month lease.

Get a nice studio or small 1 bedroom and live by yourself. You'll love it!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:27 AM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

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