Bad Roommate II: Electric Boogohgodpleasekillme
April 15, 2014 5:55 PM   Subscribe

Problematic roommate finally moves out. Everybody is happy! Problematic roommate gives one day's notice that she is moving back in. Everybody is sad! How to head off disaster?

This is the same roommate from this question. Since then, the following developments have happened:

- D said she'd move out in February, as I mentioned then. She did not move out in February because of some vague half-baked business plans that I guess were supposed to make her money? Nobody knows.

- D finally moves out toward the end of March to stay with a friend of hers upstate, saying she just couldn't afford the rent anymore, which is fair, the rent is too damn high, etc. She only takes about three bags' worth of stuff and leaves about 75% of her shit in the apartment, which either gets donated to Goodwill, thrown out or if it's furniture either left where it is or repurposed (she left a wardrobe behind, I'm using it now.) We asked her and she said this was OK. Getting rid of all her crap means we can actually organize the cabinets/fridge/storage/etc, which was... not entirely the case before. She also sets up mail forwarding.

- Everyone apparently agrees with me that they're glad she moved out and were purposely-or-subconsciously avoiding being around when she was. We hang out as roommates for the first time in, well, ever.

- I let a few people I know are looking know that there's a room open here because it really is a good deal and randoms off Craigslist have a chance of being, well, the above. Either their timing is wrong or something else comes up (or maybe it's me, I'm not stupid) but they don't jump. The landlord says she'll post the ad that night but apparently didn't (one of the roommates who'd been here longer than I was said it sometimes takes a while.)

- Today: I get a text at noon from D saying she's moving back in tomorrow and to be around to let her in. This is the first I have heard of this. It is definitely the first any of my roommates had heard of this because apparently she still hasn't told them. (I guess I didn't get on her bad side? Or else she thinks I'm the most likely to be around to move her shit in for her, which, fuck that.) Where she got the money for this, or how she's okay with 75% of her stuff now being gone, or where she's going to put the 25% of her stuff that isn't gone, or whether she's going to move out again in a month, or whether she's going to, like, un-forward her mail, is completely beyond me.

So I guess this raises a number of questions:

2. Is there realistically anything we can do? She's already told the landlord and is moving in literally in less than 24 hours, so a white lie ("Oh, one of my friends is interested!") isn't an option, and it isn't a formal lease situation, so technically there's no reason why she can't do this, right? She's (had? has?) been here the second-longest of any of us, so in that sense she does seem to have seniority in disputes like this. Or is that not how it works?
3. What obligations do I have in all this? Do I have to be in the apartment tomorrow to let her in? I told her I had to be somewhere for work, which is half true and half a lie (I do have some errands that should probably get done sooner or later, but let's not kid ourselves, the real reason is I just don't want to be in the house). She is not happy about this. What about the space that used to be hers? A lot of it now has furniture or other people's stuff in it.
4. A thing I can easily see happening, given, um, current precedent, is her deciding to move out again in two months and then deciding to move back in again. Obviously her finances aren't my problem, and I do feel bad, but how best to avoid that?
5. Do I even have any right to be upset about this? This whole fiasco is making me feel and/or act like a bitch. It's not that she's done anything wrong per se except being thoroughly unpleasant and flaky, and I'm not exactly the world's best roommate myself. And yet.
posted by dekathelon to Human Relations (51 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Is she on the lease? If she's not on the lease this sounds like a situation for "I'm sorry, but that won't be possible."
posted by kmennie at 6:01 PM on April 15, 2014 [30 favorites]

Have you talked to the landlord yet and actually confirmed it with them? Is there any sort of lease situation at all?
posted by florencetnoa at 6:10 PM on April 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

She's already told the landlord and is moving in literally in less than 24 hours

It seems this is out of your hands.

(1) Yes, WTF
(2) Not really, not unless the rest of you want to threaten to move out en masse or something.
(3) None. You can just go limp, not make an effort, not be available to let her in. (The landlord can do that, or she can wait until people are available.)
(4) You can't.
(5) Yes, you can be annoyed and avoid her. If you can find the tolerance, you might also try to feel compassion for whatever she is suffering from that causes her to act this way, and behave towards her in ways you'll be proud of. But yeah, this kind of flip-flopping would be annoying.
posted by salvia at 6:13 PM on April 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

What kmennie said. Unless she's on the lease, feel free to tell her that "that won't be possible." But you and your roomies are going to have to get your shiznit together otherwise someone with a strong personality (the on-again, off-again roommate) will decide what happens.
posted by zippy at 6:18 PM on April 15, 2014 [6 favorites]

You absolutely do have a right to be upset, and talk to the landlord. Tell him or her that problem roommate is unreliable and a bad tenant. Stand up for yourself.

Take control of this ship, dekathalon. I believe in you! Battle back against the crazy.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 6:19 PM on April 15, 2014 [25 favorites]

Do I have to be in the apartment tomorrow to let her in?

Hell, no. Getting into the apartment is her problem and the landlord's responsibility. Go run your errands, then go to a movie, take a walk in the park, throw rocks off a pier, do whatever you want to do outside the house, and do it with a clean conscience.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:20 PM on April 15, 2014 [37 favorites]

You need to discuss this with your landlord immediately. Anything about any sort of moving in, if it isn't coming out of your landlord's mouth, is hearsay. So, with that in mind,

1. Chill. No seriously, do that, because:
2. There's nothing you can do - or really, SHOULD do - until you've spoken to the landlord. You aren't in a formal lease situation, which makes room for all sorts of nonsense (like this situation). This is an unfortunate side-effect of not being formally bound to a lease.
3. See line 2.
4. Not your business, because line 2. Have a formal conversation with her about belongings AFTER you've spoken to the landlord to confirm. Delay responding to her until you do.
5. "Right" is a loose term. You feel what you feel. You're probably feeling it because you feel cagey and protective of your personal space around her.

Anecdote: In my house, three of the four housemates (myself included) practice BDSM. The fourth roommate, who we called Schrodinger's Housemate, was never there, ever, so we felt completely relaxed about our kinkiness and not having to hide it. Until we got the email from Schrodinger's Housemate telling us that she was moving out, the landlord had cleared it, and that we would be receiving a new housemate. We all IMMEDIATELY got defensive and bitchy because there was no way in hell that we were gonna put limits on leading the lifestyle in a space we pay for blah blah blah...And then we met her, and she's basically Schrondinger's Second Housemate and gives absolutely no damns about the sobbing or flogging noises in the next room over. Or she does, but we warned her before she signed the lease, so whatever.

And I bring this up to say that the present housemates (you included) are being defensive and bitchy because she's disrupting the dynamic you've got going on. But she doesn't have to. You don't have to live with her; live around her.
posted by Ashen at 6:21 PM on April 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

What the fuck? I'm not understanding this situation. Telling the landlord? You could always tell the landlord you didn't agree, or is this some sort of college town thing where everyone has separate leases and the landlord just wants someone in their and doesn't care who.

You have ABSOLUTELY A RIGHT TO BE PISSED! What is this girl's problem, seriously? She moved out and now she's telling everyone she's moving back in without actually, um, getting permission from the people who live there. I can see why you're glad she moved out, this person has serious boundry problems.

Lesson: Don't live anywhere where this situation could happen without your clearance. How does this even happen? I can't just go up to the nearby apartment complex and say , "I'm moving in with the folks in apartment 3d" and everyone be ok with it. How is this OK? Check your rights, this sounds really fishy.

If this is someone's house (because of the no lease), I'd talk with the landlord and tell him that "She moved out for a reason If she moves back in, we are all going to move out. She is not someone any of us want to live with." If he feels that all of you would move out because of her, a reasonable landlord would understand. Loosing multiple rents is worse that not getting one. Anyhow, if he DOES agree to this, I'd start looking for another place anyway, because he would be an ass.
posted by eq21 at 6:21 PM on April 15, 2014 [6 favorites]

Who told her she could move back in?

A) Nobody. Solution: Tell her no in as polite a manner as you see fit.

B) The Landlord. Solution: Perhaps revisit what the room rental policy is in terms of current residents having veto power over prospective tenants. If the landlord is able to make unilateral roommate decisions, that's shitty and it seems like there's a better solution in there somewhere.

C) Another roommate who isn't you. Solution: Send a group email asking what's up with that and registering your dissatisfaction that other roommates were not consulted before this decision was made.

Frankly, if this is the sort of apartment where the landlord has ironclad unilateral ability to place any old rando into the vacant room, I would start looking for a new apartment. That's crazymaking.
posted by Sara C. at 6:23 PM on April 15, 2014 [24 favorites]

Returning to the thread to Nth Sara C.'s advice. Regardless of who has the most veto power, approach the situation as a united front with your housemates.
posted by Ashen at 6:24 PM on April 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Who is paying for the un-let room right now? Are all of you current roommates, or is the landlord? If the latter, are you and the current roommates willing to all pony up for it until you can fill it with someone you guys like?
posted by vegartanipla at 6:28 PM on April 15, 2014 [7 favorites]

Who is on the lease, and who isn't? Start from there.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:32 PM on April 15, 2014

Change the locks.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 6:37 PM on April 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Nthing that you need to tell her no, and also talk to your landlord tonight.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:38 PM on April 15, 2014

This whole situation sounds like a shitshow. You know the bit about how this isn't a formal lease situation? Rectify that. Even if it's month to month you need a lease.
posted by Justinian at 6:45 PM on April 15, 2014

Response by poster: This isn't a college town. Worse: it's NYC. Specifically, it's Manhattan. (Moving out is technically an option, but I just moved and can't afford to move again, and more to the point, what I am paying in rent is so ridiculously low for the apartment/area/square footage that I am willing to put up with a lot for it. I assume everyone in the house feels similarly.)

It definitely wasn't any of my roommates' decision. They were as shocked (and not happy) as I was. I don't know how specifically it happened, but as far as I know it is a done deal -- the movers have been arranged and everything. I have no idea who is paying for the vacant room -- it isn't any of us so I think the landlord is just eating the cost. And yeah, it isn't a formal lease. I don't mind this because it means there's no broker fees or anything like that; at my past apartment I was in a similar situation for more than two years. But it does allow for, well, this.

I guess the best solution is to talk to my landlord now, then. What exactly should I tell her? I just don't see where there is anything I can do.
posted by dekathelon at 6:45 PM on April 15, 2014

This isn't a done deal until the roommate is feet up on the couch and maybe not even then.

At any rate communicate to your land lord that none of you want this person as a roommate. The landlord will probably be OK with this if you arrange to cover the rent they would lose until you find another roommate.
posted by Mitheral at 6:52 PM on April 15, 2014 [8 favorites]

Tell the landlord that if she moves back in, all of the rest of you are going to move out. That'll appeal to her greed, right? You need to stop pussyfooting around with your landlord. "It's her or us!"
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:53 PM on April 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

As tenants in NYC there have to be some sort of rights you guys have, especially against your landlord moving in people who are not approved by you guys. This might be my outrage projecting onto the law though (I live in SF Bay Area where tenants have tons of rights).

I think when talking with the landlord you should be as diplomatic as possible without letting him/her walk all over you. Explain that this former roommate might seem like a good candidate but is in fact a terrible renter and give all of your reasons. It would probably be good to show that the rest of you guys are a solid group who all stand together and are very unwilling to put up with her again. I would also explain that the landlord moving someone in without even mentioning it to any of the current renters is really not okay. I could imagine that he might have thought it would be fine since she used to live with you guys, but you need to be clear that it is not okay with any of the current renters.
Good Luck! this sounds totally crazy.
posted by ruhroh at 7:03 PM on April 15, 2014

You're being weirdly passive about this. Contact the landlord. See if your roommates are willing to split the cost of the room for now.

Obviously, you have no obligations to this person, and you should make it a point not to be there to let them in. Why would you even ask if this person can tell you what to do?
posted by spaltavian at 7:03 PM on April 15, 2014 [14 favorites]

Channel your inner passive aggressive nature and, sweetly ask the landlord when the apartment became a hotel. Let him know that, if he wants a lot of people coming in and out at whim, then you would be happy to put an add on craiglist and, for a small percentage, manage the strangers for him.
posted by myselfasme at 7:07 PM on April 15, 2014

Response by poster: (to clarify: I'm being passive because I do not actually think I have many rights in this situation, cf schroedinger's comment in this old question. I asked my landlord if it was really happening, she said "yes, it came as a surprise." I am scared to push the issue.) I really think it is too late for anything to be done, probably because of the ridiculous short notice.
posted by dekathelon at 7:11 PM on April 15, 2014

Channel your inner passive aggressive nature and, sweetly ask the landlord when the apartment became a hotel. Let him know that, if he wants a lot of people coming in and out at whim, then you would be happy to put an add on craiglist and, for a small percentage, manage the strangers for him.

Do this, but in your head. Use your words to say 'we don't want to live with you and we don't want you to move in'.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:13 PM on April 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

  I am scared to push the issue.

So you're going to have to live with it. You don't get what you don't assert.
posted by scruss at 7:39 PM on April 15, 2014 [29 favorites]

Has the landlord gotten any money from her?
posted by spunweb at 7:41 PM on April 15, 2014

There was a line early on that was really good - "Tell him or her that problem roommate is unreliable and a bad tenant."

You need to communicate clearly with your landlord.

"Landlord, I'm really upset to hear that Jane is moving back in. None of us got along with her, it was a very unpleasant living situation, and we were thrilled that she moved out. I think that having her move back in is really not a good idea. Can we work with you to find someone else? We could cover that portion of the rent while we put up a Craigslist ad."
posted by amaire at 7:46 PM on April 15, 2014 [20 favorites]

Call the landlord ASAP and tell her you and your roommates don't want to live with this person and that you've been looking for someone you'd all be compatible with and hope to have someone soon. It's NYC; if this apartment is as affordable as you say, you should be able to find someone else easily pretty quickly. Put up an ad yourself, right now, to try to find someone you'd rather live with. (You're not promising anyone ANYTHING by allowing them in to see the place, so there's no harm in it even if it turns out that it doesn't work out and your old roommate moves in. )

You might not have the *right* to have input into who lives with you, but there's nothing to say that the landlord won't *choose* to take your request into consideration. Even if legally she can put whoever she wants there, if the people she's renting to hate each other, that will potentially cause some strife for her. It's to her advantage to have a group of happy renters who get along with each other and plan to stay for a long long time.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:57 PM on April 15, 2014

How can the landlord fix what they don't know about? You need to tell them the room mate is a nightmare. If you're all willing to cover costs until you find a new one, I can't see them caring, they just want their money regardless of who pays it. But you need to act on it, like now. I would imply that the situation is bad enough that having her back in could force other people to leave and you would appreciate it if they give you the chance to find another person to take the room. There is a way of communicating this politely and not being so passive about it. If you really want to make a point, I think all the tenants should call separately to reinforce your joint unhappiness at this. Do it... Do it now...
posted by Jubey at 7:58 PM on April 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

None of you (including D) are on a lease, right, but D thinks she's more entitled to live there because she lived there the longest before she moved out? You're all renting month-to-month? Yeah, only the landlord has the right to evict someone, but only tenants have the right to choose co-tenants - in fact, under NY law, you guys can choose roommates without asking your landlord's permission, limited only by the legal number of occupants. All you have to do is notify the landlord within 30 days. You should, in fact, push it with your landlord if you don't want this to happen. Your landlord doesn't get to pick the roomies, and nobody gets to just choose to live in your house, no matter how shitty and draconian the market.
Even without a lease, you guys have a month-to-month rental agreement by dint of the landlord accepting the rent from you monthly. D moved out and stopped paying, which makes her not a tenant. People who aren't tenants don't have tenants' rights.
posted by gingerest at 8:05 PM on April 15, 2014 [8 favorites]

I am really curious as to who gave her permission to move back in if none of you did. Obviously you need to talk to the landlord ASAP. Something makes me think that she didn't ask anyone, she is pulling a "better to ask for forgiveness than permission" and pushing her way back in. You and your roommates need to stand up to her, and to also clear things up with the landlord. I like amaire's script.
posted by radioamy at 9:20 PM on April 15, 2014 [7 favorites]

You asked for advice on what to do, and then you say that you don't want to do anything. Can you clarify what you want to get out of this so we can give you better answers?
posted by arcticwoman at 9:35 PM on April 15, 2014 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Ok, having not rented in NYC, and not familiar with this version of renting-with-no-lease, here's something to try. I agree with radioamy that this feels like a "ask forgiveness instead of permission" situation, and it might be worth digging into more.


You: Hi, Landlord, how are you?
LL: I'm fine Dek, how are you?
You: I'm good. Hey, EX Roommate reached out to me yesterday to see if I could let her in, as she said she's moving back in. Did she reach out to you? None of us had heard she was moving back in, so I wanted to make sure you were aware.
LL: (Yes or No)

If Yes:
You: Wow, that's really disappointing. She was really flaky and we were trying hard to get a new, stable, paying roommate in here. Would you be interested in working out something? We'd be glad to cover the missing rent while we find someone stable.

If No:
You: Ok, well, we're not comfortable with her just inviting herself back in, especially if you weren't aware. We didn't agree to this, and it sounds like you didn't either. None of us can be home to let her in. Do you want to handle this? She said she'll be arriving at XX time tomorrow, but I have work.


Can we talk about boundaries for a moment? Boundaries are really awesome because a lot of this suddenly becomes Not Your Problem.

She has no key and can't get in: Not Your Problem.
She's upset because no one will let her in: Not Your Problem. (Really! Getting IN is between her and the landlord! That's what makes me think she's not on the up and up with the landlord).
Her finances: Not Your Problem.
Her reaction to her stuff being gone: Not Your Problem (she left it behind AND gave you permission to get rid of it. SO Not Your Problem).
Her lack of a room: Not Your Problem.

I keep re-writing this sentence to try to make it kinder, but maybe blunt is best. You need some fences. Own your shit, and your shit alone. All of her issues, all of her drama, all of her problems - they are not yours to own, not yours to carry, not yours to solve, not yours to deal with in any way. I'm not sure how to tell you to do this - everyone gets there in their own way - but man, you gotta start treating her dramastorms like the weather: interesting only in the most superficial sense. Really. Treat it like someone told you it was going to rain today.

"I need to get in and no one will let me in and I only have movers for 5 hours!"
"Huh, good luck with that. Sorry, I have to work."

"Where am I going to sleep tonight? My room is full of other people's stuff!"
"That's a tough one. I'm sure you'll work it out." Then close your door.

And then let it go. Not Your Problem.
posted by RogueTech at 10:04 PM on April 15, 2014 [39 favorites]

Hmm. Is it at all possible the landlord didn't give permission? Needing to move in but not having keys sounds a bit suspicious.

RogueTech's script is great. Don't mention that you'll cover the rent while finding someone until you've confirmed the LL wants her to move back in. I'd also mention that she left 75% of her stuff there.

"You: Wow, that's really disappointing. She was really flaky and we were trying hard to get a new, stable, paying roommate in here. We had just finished cleaning up the extensive debris she left after her last departure. Would you be interested in working out something? We'd be glad to cover the missing rent while we find someone stable."
posted by salvia at 11:00 PM on April 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: As far as I can tell she might be moving her (remaining) shit in tomorrow and not actually moving in until later, since it's the middle of the month. That'd explain the key situation, and it isn't too out of the ordinary -- I had a furniture delivery scheduled before my proper move-in date and before I'd picked up my keys, and my roommate said she'd specifically chosen Wednesday to move because the movers gave her some kind of weekday discount. (And, I'm pretty sure, so I only got 24 hours' notice, but no one knows what she thinks.)

I would assume she has paid the rent. I don't know whether she had to pay a second security deposit, or even asked for it back, or what the flying fuck is going on financially, but that's not my problem really except for the fact that it means I have to deal with her tomorrow. How the hell she came up with the money to pay the rent when she didn't have the money to pay the cable bill in full is completely beyond me. (It probably isn't her parents. That's all I know.)

As for the landlord, the conversation so far (via text, I didn't feel like it would be appropriate to call at like 11 PM) went:

Me: "Hi! [D] just mentioned that she's going to be moving back into our apartment starting tomorrow. Is this true?"

Landlord: "Yes."

Me: "OK, I was just curious because I was the only person she told, earlier today with about a day's notice."

Landlord: "It came as a surprise."

Me: [stuck, because when I told my roommates she was moving back in they were pissed but not pissed enough to bring up hypothetically kicking her out, and I don't want to be That Person. Nor do I want to be perceived as starting drama with the landlord, or for it somehow to get back to her if she intends to stay. Text conversation ends here.]

I'm not going to be in the house tomorrow but at some point I need to come back home (i.e. to MY HOME; this is the second time I have felt essentially compelled not to be at my own house, and it is a feeling I was not eager to repeat) and talk to her, and... what? Lay down ground rules out nowhere that she isn't going to follow? Tell her the $200 or whatever she just spent on movers will have to be spent again? Ask how long she plans on staying? Get the landlord in and have a Kumbaya circle and then stab myself out of sheer agony? Basically, I don't want to give the "she goes, or we all go" ultimatum because I personally do not want to move and I don't think anybody else in the house wants to either (and, uh, wouldn't it be a colossal dick move to make an ultimatum on their behalf?) What I really want is for this not to have happened, but since that's not an option....
posted by dekathelon at 11:38 PM on April 15, 2014

You really won't have options if you talk to her. Waiting until after she has moved her stuff back in will completely screw you. I doubt that anything you say to her will have any positive outcome.

If you want to do something about this situation, talk to your roommates first thing in the morning to come up with a game plan, and then call your landlord with the game plan. Even if you really don't want to all move out, you could still imply that you are going to move out if this person comes back in, i.e. "we really won't be happy with our living situation if she moves back in, although we really enjoy living here otherwise, and we'd have to consider other living arrangements". Given the current brief text message exchange, landlord probably has no idea that you or other roomies are upset about this development. Certainly you can convey it in a way that is polite and doesn't make you sound dramatic or crazy, seeing as how the landlord is aware that this person is not reliable/responsible.

If you don't want to talk to either your roommates or your landlord because you're worried about what they will think of you if you do, you are indeed stuck. It sounds to me like it would be very reasonable to talk to them and not make you into That Guy, and potentially save you a lot of heartache, but it is up to you.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:58 PM on April 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is super weird.

I think you should give one last stab at making this not happen, and then hopefully don't

Get the landlord in and have a Kumbaya circle and then stab myself out of sheer agony

Really assert yourself. That text conversation was not enough. You are so far from being "That Guy" that you shouldn't worry about it yet.

I am very conflict averse, especially with roommates, so I get where you're coming from, but I think you have some room to apply pressure and make your concerns known.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 1:21 AM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Your texts fall short. You need to actually tell the landlord, in so many words, that you don't want D to come back. gingerest gives a good argument (existing tenants can veto new tenants), which you own both legally (paying the landlord means you do have a de-facto lease, and that gives you veto power) and morally (she's unpleasant to live with and you won't put up with her).

Reach your other roommates, start by reaffirming that neither of you wants D to be back, and agree with them to cover the rent equitably and put an ad on craigslist. If you have a more assertive roommate, ask them to represent you by talking to the landlord in person or by phone, because those texts don't say the things that need to be said, and even the landlord seems coy when she would give you a lot more opportunities to negotiate by speaking more freely. You absolutely don't want to let D in and reestablish a lease, so act quickly.
posted by Tobu at 5:53 AM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm a little confused about what you are hoping to accomplish at this point. If you want to take a shot at this not happening, I think you should consult with your roommates to make sure you are all in agreement about not wanting her there, and then call your landlord and use amaire's script from above:

"Landlord, I'm really upset to hear that Jane is moving back in. None of us got along with her, it was a very unpleasant living situation, and we were thrilled that she moved out. I think that having her move back in is really not a good idea. Can we work with you to find someone else? We could cover that portion of the rent while we put up a Craigslist ad."

If you are only trying to figure out what to do now that this is a done deal, here's a couple of thoughts:

1. You can't really set any "ground rules" with her if you are not willing to start drama. You can speak rules at her until you are hoarse but how are you going to enforce them? You've got nothing as far as consequences go. So I wouldn't bother.

2. You have no obligation to be there tomorrow to let her in. That is totally her problem. "Sorry, I have work." Or if you feel like you need to be there to keep her from being vindictive about it after she moves in, then accept that you want to do it for that reason and get on with it.

Personally, I'd at least give talking to the landlord a shot before just giving it up and letting it happen. She seems to be assuming that you guys won't care that this is happening, and you ought to at least let her know your feelings about it. amaire's script is respectful, non-dramatic and non-threatening, and easy to retreat from without dramatics ("well, Landlord, I'm disappointed that it's a done deal, but I guess we'll make do. Thanks, have a good day.")
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:57 AM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree with treehorn+bunny - you can't be so concerned about what other people think of you in this situation. I understand not wanting to create conflict, but would you rather have some of your roomies think you can be a jerk sometimes, or be miserable all the time because this person moved back? Plus it's a big assumption that they'd even think negatively of you when they don't want her back either. Maybe everyone else is feeling the same way you do but no one wants to be the "jerk" who says not to let her back! (Jerk in quotes because realistically I don't think there's anything wrong with feeling that way). Or perhaps they figure that they're just not around that much so it isn't a huge deal. But it sounds like you are, so it's on you to take the lead on this.
posted by brilliantine at 5:58 AM on April 16, 2014

You know, she has an arrangement with the landlord, let all that shit be between her and that person. Extract yourself from the middle of it.

As for dealing with her in the future, you're completely in control of that.

If she starts in on a subject that you don't want to discuss, simply say, "You know, I'm in a good mood, and this conversation is bringing me down." And walk away.

If you and the roommates want to sit around the living room and watch Judge Judy, and she's being a noodge, just say, "Hey, we're watching this, can you cool it with the guitar, or maybe take it into your room?"

You all have a voice, and you should use it. I think house meetings are dreadful, so I wouldn't even bother, just start saying things about her behavior that you want to stop or change.

As for the room, if you have any of your shit in there, get it out. The other roommates are responsible for whatever they're storing there. I'd empty out the wardrobe and give it back if she presses the issue (oh well, easy come, easy go.)

Would you be willing to pay 1/4 of her portion of the rent, would the other roommates? Because if you propose that to the landlord, she may go for it.

But this sounds like a done deal, but not a deal you have to deal with, if you catch my drift.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:25 AM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I used to houseshare in London, which is as expensive and shitty as it seems Manhattan can be. Almost every sharehouse I lived in didn't have a written contract, but an informal month-to-month thing. I know why OP isn't keen to assert herself - because the landlord has the power, and without a contract, if she makes trouble, she gets her month's notice. I've lived in shared places where I#'ve had no say about who moves in the room next door - that's par for the course, if inconsiderate, because in expensive cities where few can afford housing the landlord holds all the power. You don't win if you make an ultimatum, and the cards are stacked against you in negotiations.
posted by mippy at 6:39 AM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

If your roommates are pissed that D is moving back in, I don't know why you think they wouldn't support trying to keep her from doing so. Talk to them about that. Chances are they might be more supportive of the idea than you think.
posted by adamp88 at 7:14 AM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's frustrating to read this thread without knowing some critical facts:

What is your rental agreement? I've gathered that it's a very casual relationship, but are you each renting your own bedrooms? Or do all tenants together rent the entire apartment?

Have the remaining rooommates been paying more rent since the problem roommate left?

How long ago did she leave?

If she has been gone for a few weeks, but is paid up on rent, she's probably still a tenant even if she said she was gone for good.

If she left and you're all paying the full rent of the place, she's not your roommate anymore. You say "Go away" and tell the landlord not to give her a key.

If you're renting bedrooms and there's a vacancy, the landlord can (probably, depending on jurisdiction-specific rules) move anyone in there. Even shitty old roommate. Or a bum from off the street. Maybe think about getting some kind of formal agreement in place. Also, consider offering to rent the entire apartment (all roommates become "jointly and severably liable" for the entire rent). This is dependent on the flakiness of your remaining roommates (and their esitmation of your flakiness). Downside: Finding a roommate to replace someone who left becomes your responsibility. Upside: Finding a roommate to replace someone who left becomes your responsibility.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 7:33 AM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

Call the landlord. Tell them that no one in the house wants her moving back in. Tell her she's not welcome to move back in.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:44 AM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We are all renting our own bedrooms. No one has been paying more rent. She left in the end of March.

She says she plans to stay "at least until the end of the year" (and got here TWO HOURS EARLIER than she said she would, thus ruining my plan to not be here.)
posted by dekathelon at 8:18 AM on April 16, 2014

Regardless of whether your roommates agree, tell the landlord you don't want her moving back in. If that doesn't change things, I'd start looking for a new place. Too Much Drama - and in the end, you can really only control you.
posted by summerstorm at 8:34 AM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nor do I want to be perceived as starting drama with the landlord, or for it somehow to get back to her if she intends to stay

Why not? Is your landlord going to kick you out if you say "We don't want her in this apartment. She was an irresponsible roommate and said she couldn't afford the rent," which is true?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:38 AM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Chalk it up to 'shit I gotta deal with to get a good deal on an apartment in NYC.'

I'd probably start a blog called, "Bunny's shitty roommate" and then just crack on her whenever she started doing stuff that bugged me.

Don't get sucked into anything with her though. It's pointless and who needs the drama.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:33 AM on April 16, 2014

I still don't understand how this person is moving back in if nobody gave her permission to do so. Did she just call the landlord and say "I'm moving back in. Surprise!"?

You need to contact the landlord and ask if this person has the landlord's permission to live there. If she does, there is nothing you can do about it except try to manage your interactions with her. If she does not, then it is the landlord's responsibility to remove her, and you will have to manage your interactions with her in the meantime.

This seems like a weird living situation, but NYC has a lot of those, so... chalk it up to a learning experience and hope she flakes and moves on soon.
posted by bedhead at 1:26 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hi Dekathelon, I appreciate that you don't want to rock the boat. As a fellow-conflict-averse person, I know it can feel so damn hard to speak up and say, "No, this is not cool with me." But you are your best advocate. Nobody else is going to say what's on your mind. The people above who have advised you not to care so much what people say are right on. Neither your roommates nor landlord nor anyone else in this world get to issue final judgment on your character. If you speak up for yourself and they don't agree, this does not make you a bad person. If it's that untenable, put your head down, save money and find a new place to live. Spring is here, so the warmer weather means you could get out of the apartment more. Come to a meetup!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 1:30 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Honestly, this entire situation, reaction wise, is completely alien to me.

I could, myself end up with the resigned attitude you have but only after

1. wanting to call the landlord and say that you, and the other roommates are incredibly pissed about this

2. cooling off, but still calling the landlord and explaining the situation more calmly.

If they're like "lol yea idk she paid the rent that's how it works" i would essentially push it until they said "If you don't like it, tough shit, move out".

They are not going to shift gears in to throwing you out instantly over this because that would lose them money. Every time you star to have anxiety over the landlord suddenly going from nothing to FUCK YOU YOU HAVE TO LEAVE remember that is just a bizarre fantasy in your mind. They don't know you, or her. Pretend they're benevolent robots who exist to collect money(which is ESPECIALLY the case in by-the-room places like this).

I mean, i agree that you might have no real recourse if the landlord says tough or doesn't care, but you should at least explore that option a bit more assertively. No awful doomsday scenario will happen by asking, and explaining your issue. Or at the very least, assume that's the case because assuming otherwise is just anxiety doomsdaying.
posted by emptythought at 8:32 PM on April 16, 2014

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