Housemate and I are making each other miserable. What are my options?
June 3, 2014 7:04 PM   Subscribe

My housemate and I have reached the point where it's really, really clear we aren't going to be able to work things out and get along. Despite this, she is digging her heels in about moving out. Snowflakes inside.

I share a house just outside DC (on the MD side) with two people. One is moving out next month to get a place with his girlfriend in another city. The other seems determined to continue living here even though we have been getting along very poorly for some time. If I can get her to commit to leaving at the end of August, I have a good friend and her boyfriend who would happily move in (the boyfriend when Housemate #1 leaves in July, the friend when, God willing, Housemate #2 leaves in August).

I am not, admittedly, innocent here: our main point of contention is my lax housekeeping. But I've been making a concerted effort to do better on that front, and as far as I can tell it's made no difference in improving relations. Basically, it's a standards issue: by the time I look around and go 'oh, it's a bit cluttered' she's about to call in the Hoarders team. If I spend a day getting the house to what I consider ready-for-company condition, I'm still nowhere near reaching her minimum standards for cleanliness.

That said, feeling constantly guilty, stressed and anxious about the state of the common areas is actively harming my ability to do anything about it. Knowing I'm making her miserable is making me miserable. Given my limited reserves of energy and executive function, the extra stress and anxiety only make it harder to accomplish the tasks that will reduce my stress and anxiety.

But she won't fucking leave! She appears to feel that the low rent and other amenities (she has the upstairs of the house to herself, the neighborhood's quiet and convenient, etc) are worth sticking it out a while longer, perhaps for as long as another year, at which point she'll be leaving for a grad program in another city. There is no way in hell I can put up with another year of this, but if she stays past August she'll have trouble finding a lease that will allow her to relocate when she needs to.

That said, I really do not want to use the nuclear option and evict her, though I think I could if I had to. I'm the only name on the lease, and the sublease she signed with me was for the previous house we lived in (when our irreconcilable differences had not yet become so apparent). She does not actually have a sublease with me at this address, and she was month-to-month before. On the other hand, her boyfriend's a lawyer and has already implied that I'd have to take her to court to make her leave before she's good and ready.

I seriously cannot deal with another year of passive-aggressive notes and hiding in my bedroom. If I can get her out by the end of August, I'd be able to live with friends whose housekeeping standards are in line with my own. I've also really missed being able to socialize with the people I live with-- Housemate #1 is friendly but very introverted and nearly always working, and I have a vastly easier time getting shit done when I have other people around.

What are my options? Is the nuclear option more trouble than it's worth? What can I say to her that will convince her that moving out is the best option for everyone, herself included? Am I going to feel like an asshole if I actually do have to kick her out officially?
posted by nonasuch to Human Relations (51 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Why can't you leave? It sounds like you're the one who is more unhappy. Ergo, you should be the one to vacate. It's going to be way less drama if you say "I've decided to move out in August" - no dealing with passive-aggressive notes or hiding or going to court or dealing with evictions. That's a lot of stress. Just move.
posted by sockermom at 7:10 PM on June 3, 2014 [7 favorites]

I was originally going to say "ummmm why does she have to move out and not YOU," until I saw that you are the only person on the lease. Yeah, either (a) you need to move, or (b) you need to evict her. Does your landlord know she lives there? If you are utterly determined not to leave yourself, I would evict her, but not make it nuclear. I would just say "x, since it's become clear that we aren't going to be good housemates, I'm going to have to ask that you find another place to live by x date" (30 or 60 days in advance or whatever your state requires) and give her written notice. The written notice is absolutely vital.
posted by celtalitha at 7:12 PM on June 3, 2014 [9 favorites]

I would actually probably mail this to her by certified mail, which sounds ridiculous since you live in the same house but is honestly the best way to legally ensure that she can't say she wasn't notified.
posted by celtalitha at 7:13 PM on June 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: yeah, my name's on the lease, which I just re-signed in April, so I couldn't leave if I wanted to. Which I don't, because this is basically my dream house, to the point that I've told my landlady she better give me first dibs if she ever decides to sell. I moved here with the intention of staying long-term, which my housemate did not do.

Housemate feels that she's put a lot of work into her own living space and that moving out early would throw her own plans into disarray. (Said plans apparently involved having her boyfriend move in for some unspecified period while they look for a new place together, which: hell no.) I am like this close to hopping on craigslist and presenting her with a list of one- and two-bedrooms that meet her needs and budget, and giving her 90 days notice while I'm at it, but the boyfriend's threats of legal drama make me hesitate.
posted by nonasuch at 7:18 PM on June 3, 2014

Oh hell no, don't give her a list of apartments. THAT is creating nuclear drama. If you don't do anything stupid or illegal, you don't have to worry. Look up the laws in your areas, or consult an actual lawyer, or consult with your landlord; and give her calm, professional, polite notice IN WRITING.
posted by celtalitha at 7:34 PM on June 3, 2014 [9 favorites]

It kind of seems like you're making her discontent with the living conditions into your problem to solve. This would be legit if you were sharing the lease equally, but since she's just an informal month-to-month subletter in a place you're technically renting, I don't understand why it's not her job to put up or shut up if she doesn't like it.

Even if this hasn't been the case before, month-to-month means in logical terms that you both re-agree to your arrangement every month. So next month, why not just change the terms of the arrangement? First, clean the place to your own (not her) satisfaction. Then sit her down and say, "Hey, I appreciate that we have very different standards of tidiness, and I'm willing to put in enough effort that the apartment would not be unreasonably messy for the average person. But what you see now is all that I'm able to do. I have a lot on my plate, and from here on out, it won't be possible for me to devote extra time to cleaning the place beyond this level. If you feel that this makes it too uncomfortable for you to live here, I completely understand, and I'll be happy to assist you in finding a new situation. If you'd like to do additional cleaning on your own, that's also fine, but I'd appreciate you not touching my things in the process."

At that point, the decision is entirely hers, isn't it? And if further passive-aggressive notes come your way, it's your call whether to ignore them or to reopen a super-sympathetic conversation about how it seems like she's not very happy here, and is she sure she wouldn't like your help looking through Craigslist for alternative living arrangements?
posted by Bardolph at 7:36 PM on June 3, 2014 [28 favorites]

Agree with celtalitha. If your main hurdle is that you don't know whether the law is on your side or hers, find out. Don't just let this guy walk all over you because he's a lawyer and he says so.
posted by payoto at 7:37 PM on June 3, 2014 [14 favorites]

So you don't have anything on paper saying she's month to month at this point? There have to be local regulations saying what you can and can't do with tenants who aren't on explicit written leases. You probably couldn't change the locks on her in an afternoon, but there probably is some amount of notice where you would be covered. Talk to your landlord first.
posted by supercres at 7:37 PM on June 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

If it changes the calculus of the situation at all, I just had to watch an eviction process unfold, and unless the other person wants to leave (and it sounds like she would fight you), it would take a minimum of 2 months to get her out based on my experience. Probably longer, and then you're not able to get these specific roomies you want… I think you're better off trying to talk it out with her somehow, or at least saying "I get that you want to stay here, but I will just be living at my normal cleanliness standards from this point on, so sending notes or making comments is not going to change my behavior and you might as well not bother." Then at least live like you want to live and relax and she'll probably just move out on her own.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:38 PM on June 3, 2014 [18 favorites]

To clarify: You are making this a billion times more complicated than it is, which is probably what's going to end up giving Lawyer Boyfriend a case. Be calm, be professional, don't argue with her about anything (DO try to main basic cleanliness and hygiene standards, I mean don't make her life miserable in the meantime) and consult a lawyer/look up your LOCAL rental laws/consult your own landlord, and act accordingly. IN WRITING. Everyone I know who I've talked to who has gotten legally screwed in something like this skimmed over that "in writing" part. Don't do that.
posted by celtalitha at 7:39 PM on June 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

And in response to what supercres mentioned, the eviction in question was of someone not on a written lease. But you'd have to ask a lawyer in your area to find out if things are different there. In my jurisdiction, from my understanding all other people aside from you in the place would have to be evicted, so that would be a problem for your other housemate if it were true in your location too.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:40 PM on June 3, 2014

I've told my landlady she better give me first dibs if she ever decides to sell.

You seem to be indicating you have something of a friendly relationship with your landlady. Have you talked with her about this situation? She might have insight or suggestions. Speaking as a lawyer, this would be one of the first questions I'd ask if you walked into my office. (I am not your lawyer.)
posted by cribcage at 7:47 PM on June 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Talking it out with her is the best way to resolve this. Make rules/ a cleaning schedule/ hire a cleaner/ make other arrangements. Being on friendly terms with your roommates is important. By engaging in dialogue (vs. threats of lawyers, evictions and court) you are more likely to resolve this situation.

Is it just that you dislike your roommate nagging about your stuff/dirt or is the relationship so deteriorated that you don't want to see her ever again?

You could always raise the rent - which could hurt her if she's on a tight budget. Also if your other friend, who sounds a bit like a slob (sorry) moves in in August, she might simply give up.

But: Consider her situation as well. If she is on a tight budget, it might not be easy to find good living space. Expecting your house to be clean is not an outrageous request. Really. And it sounds like she is just about to finish school - the last year can be tough. It would suck to move during that important time.
posted by travelwithcats at 7:53 PM on June 3, 2014

Response by poster: travelwithcats, we've talked it out plenty, and the thing is, she agrees with me that there is no way for us to be on friendly terms at this point. For whatever reason, that does not seem to be followed by the logical conclusion of 'so I will get the hell out and not have to put up with this for another fourteen months.' I am honestly bewildered that she is digging her heels in to this degree, when it is so apparent that we have run out of better options.

From what I can tell, MD law seems to indicate that 30-day notice is all I'm actually obligated to provide under these circumstances, and I can't seem to find any legal grounds she'd have for refusing to leave once it's given. Can anyone with experience in this area confirm that?
posted by nonasuch at 7:59 PM on June 3, 2014

You have to give a lawful reason for eviction. I think there are only 4 in MD.
Also: Termination of lease might be the fist step before an eviction is possible.
posted by travelwithcats at 8:04 PM on June 3, 2014

You are now explicitly asking for individualized legal advice ("under these circumstances," "I can't seem to find any legal grounds she'd have," etc). You would be foolish to listen to anybody who is dumb enough to give you that over the Internet. Good luck.
posted by cribcage at 8:06 PM on June 3, 2014 [12 favorites]

Have you had an open discussion about the prospect of her moving? Perhaps she doesn't realise that you are not able to leave because you are on the lease? Or perhaps, even if she does, you could use an 'explanation' of that as a way of opening discussion about her leaving? E.g-- 'I know things are not working out as they are. I can't see that changing. However, I am on the lease and thus obligated to stay here for its duration. I also don't want to leave.' Then, wait for her response.
posted by jojobobo at 8:08 PM on June 3, 2014

Does she know about your plans for replacement roommates? Maybe knowing that at least one of your friends will be moving in in July (no need to mention the fact that his plans might be contingent on the 3rd room opening up) might be enough to persuade her that this fight might not be worth it?
posted by sparklemotion at 8:12 PM on June 3, 2014

No one reputable can confirm or disconfirm anything like this online. Go see a lawyer.
posted by sockermom at 8:13 PM on June 3, 2014

In some places, not having an explicit agreement with her means she's month-to-month, in other places it's different. This is one of the big things you have to find out. That eviction takes a fewish months, if it comes to that, is a reason to start blazing a path sooner than later. You just have to put the puzzle pieces together, don't worry about the interpersonal stuff anymore.
posted by rhizome at 8:13 PM on June 3, 2014

Response by poster: jojobobo, I have straight-up told her that I would like her to move out at the end of August. Her response was that she doesn't know if that would be possible, or even something she's willing to do. I am sort of at a loss for how to respond to that other than 'too bad, here's 90 days notice.'

(Sorry to threadsit, I am both incredibly frustrated and worried about running out of time to find a solution-- friend's boyfriend needs to give 30 days notice on his current place if he wants to move in here, and Housemate #1 is leaving over July 4th weekend. So this game of human Tetris needs to be set in motion SOON.)
posted by nonasuch at 8:14 PM on June 3, 2014

If you've never served eviction papers, get professional counsel. It's an easy thing to screw up and the judges I've dealt with are all sticklers for properly following the law.

(so for example, service by certified mail as mentioned above would get your case thrown out in my jurisdiction because you can only properly serve by first class mail.)
posted by vespabelle at 8:14 PM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh for goodness sakes.

(1) Friend's boyfriend needs to have a plan B, because no, there is no way to guarantee this will all be sorted out in a set amount of time.
(2) you need to figure out the actual laws in your own city/county. Baltimore, for example, requires a 60 day notice to a subtenant, whereas other areas of MD require only 30. You really need to figure out what jurisdiction you fall under, whether your housemate is your tenant or your landlord's tenant or something else entirely (by law), and what guidelines apply to that VERY SPECIFIC scenario, which is NOT something anyone here can take responsibility for telling you.
(3) You need to talk to your own landlord, PERIOD. There is a non-zero chance as mentioned above that evicting the subletter might mean you leaving too. This conversation is not negotiable.
(4) Telling her to be out by the end of August means absolutely nothing because, again, it's NOT IN WRITING.

Talk to your landlord.
Mail her something in writing (or have your landlord do this).
Be civil and polite, keep your shit clean.
Make friend and bf come up with a plan b.
Be prepared, if she decides to ignore written notice, to (a) fork out money for an illegal detainer (eviction lawsuit), (b) have your landlord evict you all at once, or (c) give up.

That's really about it.

On preview, certified mail is a service you add to first-class mail. It is still first class.
posted by celtalitha at 8:25 PM on June 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

So if she has the upstairs why does she have a say about your space. Frankly if she doesn't want to move I would stop caring about her housekeeping standards and just state the obvious - you don't like it, you move.
posted by cairnoflore at 8:48 PM on June 3, 2014 [12 favorites]

> What can I say to her that will convince her that moving out is the best option for everyone, herself included?

If you are the one hiding in your bedroom, and you're the one who is continuously guilty and stressed out, why is moving out the best option for her? She's getting what she wants and she's got you buffaloed. Staying where she's settled in, in an apartment that she likes, with a roommate that she doesn't like but who is pliable, seems quite plausibly a better option than moving.

> That said, I really do not want to use the nuclear option and evict her,
> her boyfriend's a lawyer and has already implied that I'd have to take her to court to make her leave before she's good and ready.
> I seriously cannot deal with another year of passive-aggressive notes and hiding in my bedroom.

Seems pretty clear. Are you going to evict her, or are you going to let her remain your roomate until she's good and ready to go? You don't have to like the choices, but it's one or the other. If you do decide to evict her, listen to everyone else and get a lawyer.
posted by mattu at 8:56 PM on June 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

Can you offer to pay for a couple of hours moving help?
posted by samthemander at 9:00 PM on June 3, 2014

Do you share a kitchen or bathroom? If so, she may be a roommate, rather than your sublease. Different rules govern roommates vs sub-tenants in Ontario. I would encourage you to consult a lawyer.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 10:15 PM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Of course this is far from legal advice, but what happened in the situation that I referred to above was - the landlord had to give notice to the person (not on the lease) being evicted, and the other person (on the lease) living on the property had to temporarily evacuate so as not to also be subject to the eviction notice. After the notice was given, 30 days passed, the person being evicted did not move out, and thus a court date was set. The landlord and the person being evicted showed up at court, and got together around a table with a mediator. They were able to agree at that point on a date (the first of the next month, which was about 60 days from the original notice being given) that the evictee would move out. If the evictee had not moved out by that date, the marshals would come and I guess physically remove them from the premises. From what I heard of the case, though, had the evictee showed up at the court date with a lawyer and actually tried to fight the eviction at that point instead of agreeing on a date to move out, the process could have been prolonged by another month or two with one or more subsequent court dates being required.

This may not be at all relevant to your situation, it happened in a state that was not Maryland. It was, however, extremely stressful for all parties involved, probably even more so than receiving occasional passive aggressive notes would have been… also, regarding your follow up that you have spoken to her, it sounds like you spoke to her and said you were going to try harder to be more neat in an effort to make peace with her, but it did not improve your relations. Might you get a different result if you tell her you're not going to try to appease her anymore in the cleanliness department? It might escalate the fight briefly but seems more likely to lead her to the conclusion that it's not worth living with you anymore. I'm not saying actively try to make her angry by trashing the place, but it sounds like you can stop doing anything beyond what you would normally do.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:20 PM on June 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Talk to a lawyer, ASAP.

It occurs to me, though, that something that might encourage her to leave is an increase in rent... and it's likely to be far easier to legally do that than full eviction.

She might as well be paying for her drama!

And stop babying her. She's only there because you've been willing to tolerate it so far, and you don't have to.

As for evicting her - even if it took four months to get rid of her, that'd still be sooner than a year!
posted by stormyteal at 10:28 PM on June 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Maryland Landlord Tenant Laws
posted by salvia at 10:40 PM on June 3, 2014

Talk to a lawyer. Talk to your landlord. Also, I'd relax the housekeeping standards a bit.
posted by quince at 11:38 PM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

While everyone is right to tell you to talk to a lawyer, and you should, something you should be asking that lawyer is "is there anything here stopping me from telling her the rent is going up $2000 in 60 days?"

Because in many places now that aren't like, san francisco, if you don't have a lease then that kind of stuff is absolutely allowed. It also falls under the category of not actually trying to force her out directly, but creating a situation in which she'll have to leave of "her own free will" which might let you skirt any irritating rules about actually terminating tenancy.

As i prefaced this with, and others said though, talk to a lawyer.
posted by emptythought at 12:19 AM on June 4, 2014 [6 favorites]

That said, feeling constantly guilty, stressed and anxious about the state of the common areas is actively harming my ability to do anything about it.

Then stop worrying about it. She's the one who has the problem with the living conditions, not you and you are the one on the lease. Until she moves out, all her complaining is just complaining. Everytime she complains just respond "We've been through this before, you're welcome to move out. I've decided that I like the way I live and if you can't live with it, you need to move." I don't see why you're trying to accommodate for her. Like you said, you're the one who wants to stay longterm. She's either going to just have to put up with it or move out. If she came into AskMefi today with the same situation from her point of view, everyone would tell her to just move the hell out already.
posted by like_neon at 1:28 AM on June 4, 2014 [14 favorites]

You're conflating two issues here. The first is that the two of you don't agree on house cleanliness standards. The second is that you are being thwarted in having one of your two other friends move in. The first issue apparently has you in a stalemate because you want to make it a reason for enabling the second, which is not your current housemate's problem in any way, and therefore no motivator to leave a great living space in her final year of school.

If the boyfriend wasn't on a short time frame would Ms Upstairs's presence be so painful? Sounds like it wasn't before. There are loads of ways to manage it, ie sharing costs for a cleaner; making it clear that you don't care if she doesn't like the way she lives etc. However, from your perspective solving issue one means you don't get your way on issue two. If you want both problems solved you'll have to get legal advice on eviction and then follow through.

There may be a third way - why not move your friend and her boyfriend into one room together for the time being. That way it's clear to Ms Upstairs that you're all waiting for her to sling her hook and may expedite her moving on.
posted by freya_lamb at 3:59 AM on June 4, 2014 [6 favorites]

I love Freya's idea. As long as your landlord doesn't have a problem with 4 people (3 subletters), why not move them both in? You could do it month to month so they aren't locked in and can leave if things don't work out. All three of you should hang out on "her" floor a lot. :)

Stop meeting her cleanliness standards. Tell her: "Stop leaving me passive-aggressive notes. I'm the tenant on the lease here and you are subletting from me. I'm cleaning to my standards. Please drop it."

The whole thing is really weird now, because you've already asked her to leave. I've never dealt with having to evict a subletter who doesn't want to leave and is willing to threaten legal action. That's pretty uncomfortable. You may have to decide how far you are willing to go to try to evict her.
posted by amaire at 5:18 AM on June 4, 2014 [8 favorites]

From everything you've said your housemate has no incentive to move other than being evicted. She enjoys low rent, good location, and pleasant personal living quarters. The living situation is probably not as mentally and emotionally stressful for her as it is for you. And, if she's planning to move in a year anyway, more reason for her to stay put, as otherwise she would be moving twice in the space of a year. Moving is a hassle and costs money. Under those circumstances I would probably stay put for another year despite an annoyed housemate. I think if she knew she would be staying put at her next place for a couple of years she would have moved out already.

So your choices are forcing her out (eviction) or making moving out seem attractive to her. Given her circumstances, I honestly can't think what would work for the latter case.
posted by needled at 6:10 AM on June 4, 2014

If you're in Takoma Park, they have their own set of landlord-tenant laws. Your landlord should be able to advise you on which rules apply here. Good luck!
posted by MichelleinMD at 6:31 AM on June 4, 2014

I agree with everyone else that you need to talk to your landlord ASAP. If housemate doesn't even have a lease (???) this is some majorly gray area.

If it turns out that you can't really force her out, then I think you need to train yourself to care 100% less. Stop trying to make her happy. She obviously doesn't care about compromise at this point, so don't bother cleaning more than you think is reasonable. I'm assuming you are not in fact a hoarder and you keep things tidy within what a normal human would find reasonable.

I would have one more heart to heart and say, "I'm willing to one more time discuss reasonable standards for cleanliness or hiring a cleaning service. If we are past the point of compromise on this, then I am not going to put any more mental or emotional effort into keeping the house to your standards. You cannot have this house and this low rent and this neighborhood without this roommate, so your options are move, compromise on cleanliness, clean it yourself, or we basically ignore each other, which is fine with me but also means I will no longer entertain any notes or complaints about the house being dirty."

And after that, if she chooses the ignore option... Passive aggressive notes can go straight in the trash, or save them for a bonfire. Complaints can be met with "You still have the same 4 options from our talk." Stop caring. She doesn't care, she only wants what she wants.

Honestly, I bet she is also holding out to see if she can force you to move.
posted by nakedmolerats at 6:48 AM on June 4, 2014 [5 favorites]

I agree that there is no reason to pay attention to her passive-aggressive notes or raise your own cleanliness standards if you're hoping for her to move out. (In your situation I would probably start a Tumblr of her passive-aggressive notes, but I'm not a very nice person sometimes.)

Another option, which I haven't seen anyone float yet: Would your finances allow you to offer her a settlement payment contingent on her moving out by the given date? I think you should talk to a lawyer about your options first, of course. But if it would cost $X to evict her (lawyer's time, filing fees, general stress and horror) it might be worth seeing if offering her $0.5X as a settlement payment for moving out in August would be a possibility first. (And if she's got her back up and her boyfriend ready to fight, the settlement might let her see herself as the "winner" in the confrontation and give her an out for leaving without losing self-respect. I know, it would suck to let her think this, but wouldn't it suck less than living with her for another 14 months?)

That being said, I think the first move to make, as has been said by everyone else, is to talk to a lawyer and the landlord and figure out what options you have here.
posted by pie ninja at 6:58 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's your name on the lease. It's your house. She is your subletter. Throw away the passive-aggressive notes without reading them, or maybe write in "LOL" and leave them there. Tell her to shut up/leave you alone if she tries to confront you again, then turn on some really loud music. It's your house, honey, just do your thing. Unless the cleanliness level literally rises to the level of evictable squalor--your house, your rules.

You have the upper hand in your relationship with her. Just get used to saying, "My house, my rules, get out of my face" to her. It really is that easy.
posted by Rach3l at 8:27 AM on June 4, 2014 [9 favorites]

Absolutely find out what your rights as a Sub-Lessor are and then give her appropriate notice, and if that doesn't work, start eviction proceedings accordingly. Her lawyer boyfriend and her stuck-up self can prepare for a date in Landlord-Tenant court, it'll just be on your terms, not theirs.

Move in the other roommates as you see fit. When roommate 1 vacates in July, move in a replacement. It's your right as the Sub-Lessor, as long as the landlord is okay with it. It'll be even less fun for her when it's 2:1 and you're having a good time with your friend. DO NOT move in her boyfriend.

If she tries to move in her boyfriend, call the cops immediately. If you let him stay for a night or two, or he starts getting mail there, then you're screwed. If he does have mail sent to him there, be SURE to notify the post office that no one by that name lives there and NOT to send the mail there.

As for the fussy housekeeping, blow that. Start living in your home the way that you're comfortable. Throw away any notes she leaves.

Stop walking on eggshells, once she realizes that you can't be bullied, she'll probably leave without a fuss.

But get your legal ducks in order, in your state, county and municipality. Involve the Landlady if you can, it lends gravitas to the whole thing.

Good luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:30 AM on June 4, 2014 [8 favorites]

I'm going to restate this, just in case the variations above do not click:

1) Do not assume that because yours is the only name on the lease your roommate does not have a legal right to be there, and

2) Do not assume that even if you could legally start the eviction process today your roommate would be be out by August.

I have straight-up told her that I would like her to move out at the end of August. Her response was that she doesn't know if that would be possible, or even something she's willing to do. I am sort of at a loss for how to respond to that other than 'too bad, here's 90 days notice.'

Has she paid June's rent yet? Because if she's paid for June I'm not sure if that adds up to the end of August anyway, even if it didn't drag on.

(Sorry to threadsit, I am both incredibly frustrated and worried about running out of time to find a solution-- friend's boyfriend needs to give 30 days notice on his current place if he wants to move in here, and Housemate #1 is leaving over July 4th weekend. So this game of human Tetris needs to be set in motion SOON.)

I know you can't stand your roommate and you really want your friends to move in but do not let their timeline pressure you to act rashly. Is the solution getting a new roommate or is it getting your friends to move in?

Sorry if I missed this but before your talk to your landlord, does your lease address sublets or occupants not on the lease? Make sure you're not in violation of your lease before you talk to the landlord, and then get your own legal advice because your interests and your landlord's interests are not necessarily the same.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:26 AM on June 4, 2014

Steps one, two and three are to find out what legal rights you/your roommate have in this situation.

This may not be the most noble way to go about it, but I think that instead of going the eviction route you should start cutting out the attractive aspects of the home that are keeping her there. Go back to your former cleaning habits and if she says she doesn't like it, tell her she can move. Passive aggressive notes should get tossed or returned to her. If it's legal, inform her in writing that the rent is going up $X in August. Take back the use of common spaces and start giving zero fucks about her. Roommate conflicts like this are basically a war of attrition, so you need to stop bending over backwards to make concessions to a person who mutually dislikes you. Once she realizes that she's going to be stuck in a messy apartment with a roommate she can't passive aggressively intimidate that isn't even going to be cheap anymore, she'll probably decide to move out on her own.
posted by fox problems at 10:00 AM on June 4, 2014 [9 favorites]

Nthing to consult a lawyer before you start any eviction proceedings. Tenant law is complicated, varies from state to state and according to individual circumstances, so you really want to watch your step here.

Now as far as living with her is concerned: Can you just ignore her? Discard her notes and do not respond to them. Don't rise to the bait when she gets upset about cleaning. If she wants to clean, she can do it herself. Basically, do not communicate any more than is necessary. If you are the lease holder, you really don't need to please her or walk on eggshells around her. Don't be abusive, but don't let her bully you.

If she is the type to escalate in an unpleasant way - destroying your possessions, harming your pets, in general making your home so unhappy or unsafe that you feel forced to placate her - then you have a problem, and then you might want to take any nuclear option you legally have. But is it possible that if you don't walk on eggshells around her, you don't keep your place clean to her standards, etc., she might just pick up and leave of her own accord? Problem solved.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:00 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

1) Like everyone's said, consult a lawyer or local tenants' organization. Rules vary SO MUCH by jurisdiction.

2) Like everyone's said, your name on the lease = you set the standard and keep the house as you want, live however makes you happy. Not suggesting you do this per se, but someone I was subletting from in SF (pretty cheaply, which made it appealing) had her mom stay (in our small 4br, 1-bath apartment) for a month unannounced. And then two other guests for two weeks. That helped convince me to leave, personally. (She wanted to move a friend in, technically legally she wasn't allowed to tell me to leave. I did leave when it was convenient for me though, which was 2 weeks after the date she would have preferred.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:12 AM on June 4, 2014

Agree that your first step should be to talk to a lawyer and clarify the situation.

In the meantime, make things less comfortable for her. Stop cleaning, have a lot of guests, play your music whenever and however you want, take back the public space and meet your own standards, nobody else's. Either ignore her notes or write "SO MOVE OUT THEN" on top of them in big black letters and stick them on "her" door. Have your new roommates move in together, and before they do, get them to hang out at your place a lot and make it clear that they are messier and less polite than you. Increase the rent if you can get away with it and charge the new roommates less to compensate for the fact that they are in one room for a while. Tell your landlord they can do any and all annoying repairs to your place whenever and wherever they want, and "forget" to tell your roommate. If you have access to the fusebox in your place, and can identify which fuse controls "her" room, flip it off whenever you think of it, and shrug when she complains. (Electrical systems can be quirky, and if she doesn't like it, she can move.)

Have fun!
posted by rpfields at 12:00 PM on June 4, 2014

You also need to unequicably need to tell her, "Under NO circumstances is Boyfriend to move in here. So if that's his plan, he needs to do something else, because that is NOT okay."

Say it, write it, email it and spray paint it on the front door if you have to.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:05 PM on June 4, 2014 [6 favorites]

Your particular situation is so specific that no one here can really address the legal aspect of things.

But I just want to offer some sympathy. I'm a relatively clean person, but I've lived with people who were so persnickety and passive aggressive that I ended up hiding in my room. The roommate who screamed at me because I didn't close the shower curtain after getting out of the shower was a far, far worse person to live with than my current slob of a roommate. Your roommate sucks. I'm sorry you're dealing with this.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:58 PM on June 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

I don't think you're going to have this all worked out on the timeline that would be ideal for your prospective new roomies.

Can you raise her rent by the cost of a weekly housecleaner, and get one?
posted by daisyace at 2:36 PM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

You absolutely need to consult a lawyer. Here in California, for example, your housemate might have all the legal rights of a tenant, even without her name on the lease. In such a case, if you tried to kick her out she'd be able to sue you for unlawful eviction.
posted by Lexica at 5:15 PM on June 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

Can you raise her rent by the cost of a weekly housecleaner, and get one?

A housekeeper is a good idea but I really don't think it's fair to force her to pay the full cost when you admit to "lax housekeeping". Different standards and all, sure, but even you acknowledge that your cleaning standards are low. You could suggest splitting the cost, or pay for it yourself if you think it'd be worth it to you to improve the atmosphere.

Unlike other posters I don't think having your name on the lease gives you the moral right here (legal right is different, and absolutely you need to check with a lawyer before so much as thinking about eviction), since you moved to the house together. Neither of you owns the house. You're equals in my eyes - who's on the lease is a technicality. Clearly being equals legally is another story, and you may be able to evict her. You may not. Depends on your area.

You don't get along now, but neither one of you is unhappy enough to move out over it, apparently. You can't convince her that the "best course of action for everyone" is for her to move out, because that's a lie you're telling yourself. It's the best course for you, obviously - there's no downside for you. If it were also the best course for her, she'd have moved out already.

If you have the legal right to kick her out I guess you can do that to break the deadlock, but it seems like a jerk move to me. In shared rentals, the normal course of action is that the person who is most unhappy moves out first. You could have chosen not to renew the lease, after all. Whether you'll "feel like an asshole" afterwards is a question only you can answer.
posted by randomnity at 2:09 PM on June 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

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