Moving out, roommate upset
February 20, 2015 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Life happened, and I am moving out four months before my lease is up. My roommate doesn't want a subletter because she's studying for her board exams in the next month, and also refuses to pay to cover the vacancy. She also doesn't want to discuss in person with me ("I have to go"), has ignored my email contact, and is making the landlord play messenger boy. I don't have time to argue with this nonsense, but would like to minimize hard feelings, grudges, etc., since she is in the same small grad program as I am and will be my colleague for the next year or two.

Roommate decided to not talk to me and instead went directly to the landlord with her parents; she asked the landlord to inform me that we both have to approve the subletter before subleasing our apartment; if one party declines to have the subletter then we are obviously still responsible for our portion of the rent. In other words, my roommate's strategy is to decline all the subletters I have found (very reasonable, reliable-looking subletters, I might add), and refuse to pay for the vacancy. I realize that if I didn't pay rent and moved out, she'd be the one evicted and we'd have our credit damaged, but I'm not up for playing this kind of game. I could break lease, but the penalty is two months of rent and I don't live in a state where the landlord is obliged to mitigate, so I could end up paying even more rent if I broke lease.

I thought I approached my roommate calmly when I informed her of my intent to move out, but she was extremely upset and hasn't talked to me for a week. I didn't mean to upset her, and certainly did not mean to cause an adversarial situation... but to me, it looks like if she refuses all subletters and refuses to pay for the vacancy, I'll really get a short stick because at this point, not only will she hold a grudge against me (she is definitely a grudge-holder), but it also looks like I'll have to pay for a room that I won't be living in on top of moving in the middle of winter. Yes, it is considered bad form to vacate before the lease is up, but tenants are allowed to move out and find a subletter, right?

I am distressed about this whole situation-- I thought that people who needed to move out would find a sane subletter, and get on with their lives. I wasn't prepared for something like this (although her response is only confirming that my decision to move out was a good one...).

My questions:
What can I / should I say or do to minimize the conflict?
What did I do wrong to make her so upset? Am I being inconsiderate? Should I apologize to her?
What should I do in the future to avoid situations like these?
How can I let this go in my head so that I can focus on things that matter in my life (studying for my own exams and just enjoying life)? I must focus on my own studies.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (78 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I think you need to pony up the rent or pay whatever the cost of breaking the lease is, especially if this person is going to continue to be your colleague.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:26 AM on February 20, 2015 [36 favorites]


When you say "life happened," do you mean "there is an emergency-type reason I can't stay in this place," or do you mean "I want to live with the person I'm dating"? If it isn't urgent, I think (well, it doesn't matter what I think, but it sounds like your roommate is thinking--not unreasonably) you really should try to stay four more months and save everyone the trouble.
posted by witchen at 8:27 AM on February 20, 2015 [47 favorites]


I have one question: exactly how much notice did you give her? Because that is REALLY going to affect things.

Meaning: if you told her now that you are moving out ONE MONTH from now, that's one thing. But if you told her now that you're moving out NEXT TUESDAY or something, that's different.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:28 AM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yes, it is considered bad form to vacate before the lease is up, but tenants are allowed to move out and find a subletter, right?

Not always, it depends on the lease. What does your lease say?
posted by jaguar at 8:33 AM on February 20, 2015 [13 favorites]


What are the terms of your lease? Are you both on the same lease? Do you have a roommate agreement? Scour all your related documents for any relevant clauses. Then find a tenant attorney in your area. (If you are in NYC, memail me, as I have a good one to recommend.)

Yes, hiring an attorney will cost money, but it will be less than paying for the apartment for four months, and it will give you authority, confidence, and some distance from the situation.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:36 AM on February 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Unless "life happened" means you're leaving to be a caregiver for a dying relative, or that your roommate is threatening you, or some other Big Deal Thing, you owe the rent until the lease is up. I had a friend who left when her roommate was a bit mean and acted goony; she paid her rent for the remainder of her lease and left about 3 months early. I myself had a roommate that was weird and wouldn't leave me alone; I left a bit early and paid the rent for my last month. Why wouldn't I? I signed a lease and made an agreement.

Imagine it was her that was moving out early and she said "oh yeah I'll just find a sane subletter." Most people don't want to live with a stranger that their old roommate found, especially if that roommate has proven themselves unreliable (which you kind of have, by just making this unilateral decision about her home life).

Yeah, I would sit down and apologize to the roommate for springing this on her. If you're leaving because of a true emergency, she should be a bit more lenient about this, but this is her home. You made a committment to live with her for the duration of the lease. Don't just upend her life because it's more convenient for you to do so.
posted by sockermom at 8:38 AM on February 20, 2015 [69 favorites]


Depending on where you live and what your lease is like, subletting your room in this kind of situation might not be a /right/ that she and/or the landlord has to grant you. If this is something that's actually at their discretion, it may have been better to approach her with this as a question--is it OK to sublet my room for the rest of the lease--rather than just telling her what is happening. Because this is something that affects her quite a bit, and even if people "look reasonable," you can't know what living with someone is like until you live with them.

Side note, situations like this are often kind of complicated in terms of what the law is, especially if you two are renting the whole apartment rather than the landlord renting individual rooms to you. This depends on the laws where you live, though.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:38 AM on February 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, you are assuming you have rights - legal or social - that you do not. You committed to the lease, she committed to living with you, not some rando, and not to finding said rando four months before the end of the lease. You cannot - I mean this as a human behavior - expect her to be happy or cooperative and glad for you to have your cake and eat it while she gets the absolute shit end of this deal. (I'd try to take you to court, if you did this to me.)

If you can't honor your commitment, you need to pay the rent for the rest of the lease. You either do that, or you get to be the bad guy, which you will have to live with if this is the course of action you choose. You created the conflict, you don't get to avoid it now. In the future, don't make commitments you're not going to keep.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:39 AM on February 20, 2015 [36 favorites]


What did I do wrong to make her so upset? Am I being inconsiderate? Should I apologize to her?

Uh. You're breaking your lease early. Presumably, this is a lease on a place you agreed to rent with her for a year. So if that's the case, then not seeing your commitment through is indeed wrong. If it's unavoidably wrong, like your parent has died and you have to go home and farm the family farm now or you finally got a job in another city, you still owe her an apology and you should pay the 4 months of rent if you possibly can.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:40 AM on February 20, 2015 [12 favorites]


Let me expound on my own answer a bit; there are a lot of variables that you haven't mentioned.

* If your name AND her name are on the lease, you may be on the hook to have to stay there, unless you can reach out to the landlord to sign the lease entirely over into her name. If her name is the only one on the lease, that's not a problem. But we don't know whether your name is on the lease. Can you advise us?

* If you are telling her now that you're moving out next week, that's REALLY not fair to her - that only gives her a few days to try to find a subletter. Finding a subletter takes time, and a few days is REALLY not enough time. If you're telling her now that you're moving out in a month or two, that's different. Can you tell us when you told her that your move-out date would be?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:41 AM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


You are actually the one in the wrong. "Life happened" isn't a legal reason for breaking a lease, and not every lease allows for subletters. Even if you feel justified in leaving your living situation, you are still financially obligated by the lease you signed, and I think your roommate is completely within her rights to make you stick to that agreement.
posted by xingcat at 8:42 AM on February 20, 2015 [13 favorites]


You signed a contract saying you would pay a portion of the rent for so many months. You want to choose your living situation and roommates but deny your roommate the same and leave her holding the bag. I would be pretty annoyed. It is not her job to come up with a solution that is acceptable to you or even to discuss it.

If I were a third person in your program I would definitely think less of you if I found out you did this to someone else in our program. And you really don't want to be known as the person who uses a lawyer to get out of the responsibilities they have agreed to.
posted by grouse at 8:44 AM on February 20, 2015 [22 favorites]


It's not that easy to find people to be roommates with. This is a person you share a living space with. You have to feel safe around this person. You have to be VERY comfortable with them. This is not a, "I found you a rando on Craigslist. Why are you being so difficult," situation. YOUare breaking the lease and you're not really offering a good reason as to why you are. If you're staying in the same area, then why exactly are you moving? It seems arbitrary, capricious and selfish.

If you signed a lease saying you were going to stay for a certain period of time, why is it okay for you to leave for no good reason? You have left her to deal with finding a new roommate, hassling while you move out and the new person moves in. Not to mention having to get used to a whole new person's annoying habits.

You are 100% wrong here. Were I you, barring a serious change in your circumstances that were unavoidable, I would suck it up and stay.

I could understand your needing to move out if you lost your job, had to relocate, or some other huge life issue. But just deciding to, after you had agreed to stay for a proscribed period, that just seems flakey to me.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:44 AM on February 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


A couple things you didn't mention that are crucial really:

- What does the lease agreement you signed say?
- How much notice have you given?

If you told her a couple of months ago then seems pretty reasonable (depending on the lease agreement of course). If it was like last week, well.. afraid not much sympathy. Life happens but we all have responsibilities that sometimes take priority (Jesus, you can tell I'm about to enter my 40th year)

Not to get too Dickish about the whole thing but it really does sound like perhaps you are being a tiny bit gung ho and putting the blame on her for not wanting to start a whole new co-habiting relationship for 4 months.

When I was in my mid twenties I moved in with my Sisters boyfriend. Was awesome for a few months then I realised that his night shift pattern and getting pissed during the day didn't really fit with my office job pattern. It sucked and got really really stressful. Arriving home at 6pm to a house full of drunks and Bongs was not much craic. Couldn't really blame him, gotta party sometime. Just wish I'd thought it through a bit more.

However we signed a lease together, I waited for a few (unbearable at the time) months and moved on. We are still good friends.
posted by twistedonion at 8:46 AM on February 20, 2015


Do you seriously not understand why she doesn't want to live with a subletter of your choosing? If you had handed her a check for 4 months' rent when you told her you were moving out, I doubt she would be upset. Pay your bills.
posted by deadweightloss at 8:46 AM on February 20, 2015 [48 favorites]


Yeah, she's supposed to spend time and energy interviewing people (to fill a 4 month vacancy) or trust you to find some stranger? Sounds like you've screwed her over at a bad time. Also, for an anonymous ask, "life happened" is a pretty blithe sounding justification for pulling out.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:46 AM on February 20, 2015 [24 favorites]


I agree with much of what's been said. If you're looking for a strategy that might make a subletter more attractive to your roommate, consider paying her the remainder of your rent through the end of the lease and having the subletter (whom you trust anyway to be really responsible, since you are recommending them as a cohabitant?) pay you the rent instead. She'll still have to live with a stranger, but won't have to worry about whether they'll pay on time.
posted by telegraph at 8:49 AM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think whether or not your roommate is being reasonable depends a lot on why you are moving out four months early. If you are moving out for an extremely good reason (dying parent? you have a terrible disease and need to move closer to specialists?), then you can comfort yourself in the knowledge that your roommate is being selfish and that you'll remember this when you are professional colleagues. I can't really imagine not trying to accomodate a roommate with a sublessor if some personal tragedy befell them, even if it inconvenienced me. This falls into the area of your roommate being legally right but morally wrong.

If you are moving out for a stupid reason (want to live with boyfriend/decided you don't like the building anymore/whatever - most reasons are going to fall under this category), then you need to just realize you are completely in the wrong and that this is your roommate's perrogative to not want to deal with a new roommate for the next four months. I would be beyond pissed if my roommate pulled this right before boards and expected me to bear 100% of the burden of their self-created mess.
posted by gatorae at 8:49 AM on February 20, 2015 [16 favorites]


It depends on whether you and your roommate signed the same lease (or two independent ones), on the specific language in the lease regarding subletting, and on how much notice you have to give to your landlord/roommate. Assume that you will be held financially responsible for the remaining 4 months.

Perhaps it is an option for you to move out but continue to pay rent on the old place. Another option is bringing a copy of your lease to your campus's student legal services to ask about your options; this is usually free or very cheap.

Finally, it's possible that you're kind of like me -- when I was hugely stressed about one thing (grad exams), I sort of shifted that stress and mental ruminating over to something totally different (my health symptoms) as a way to "focus on something important" but manage to avoid both studying and confronting my fear that I wasn't going to pass exams. If this roommate is consistently late on bills and hugely messy and loud at late hours, then yes, maybe it's worth it to move out. But if on paper she's really not that bad, then consider buckling down for the next few months and immersing yourself in your studies.
posted by nicodine at 8:53 AM on February 20, 2015


tenants are allowed to move out and find a subletter, right?

Only if that's something you discussed and agreed to beforehand. If not, then the default is "no". You hold up your end of the bargain. Your roommate shouldn't get stuck with some random because you decided to bail early. That's not how Being Roommates works.

You either keep paying rent, whether you live there or not, until the end of the lease, or you break the lease in the way it's described on paper. You don't get to have your move-out cake and eat it too.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:53 AM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


You list as your two priorities studying for exams and "just enjoying life". Many people also prioritize keeping their word. Maybe you should consider why that isn't a priority for you and what it will mean for your professional future if it's known what a low priority that is for you. "Letting this go" is probably not a good idea.
posted by grouse at 8:55 AM on February 20, 2015 [24 favorites]


so I could end up paying even more rent if I broke lease.

What is "if"? You are breaking the lease. I bet the lease says what your obligations to pay rent are and what your termination rights are. Obey what the lease says.

Yes, it is considered bad form to vacate before the lease is up, but tenants are allowed to move out and find a subletter, right?

Did you read the lease? That will have the answer to your question. If it is anyone like the lease I have with my tenant, that is WRONG. It would be the rare lease that allowed a tenant to sublet to any person they pleased.

I do not doubt that your lease is quite specific on how you may terminate your lease. For example, mine has a liquidated damages provisions as provided by state law. Obey the lease. You signed it because you wanted the other people who signed it to obey it, right?

How can I let this go in my head so that I can focus on things that matter in my life (studying for my own exams and just enjoying life)? I must focus on my own studies.

Do what you promised to do. That is a great way to clear one's mind.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:59 AM on February 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


And unless "life happened" means you've suffered a life-altering accident or illness, the only options that will not severely damage your reputation in your program will be to stay or pay out the lease. If you were expecting your relationship with your course-mates to assist in getting a job, glibly screwing over your roommate in the program and being incapable of understanding why that might upset someone is...not going to do you any favors.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:05 AM on February 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


I don't want to pile on too hard because everyone is already telling you that you're in the wrong and being immature, but yeah, you're being unreasonable. Try to think about it from your roommate's perspective: she signed a year lease to share an apartment with you, not with some other person. Living with someone else could be dangerous, or intolerably annoying, or what have you. You don't need to leave to take care of your parents who are ill; you want to leave to live with your boyfriend now (rather than wait until your lease is up). Meanwhile, it sounds like you're both in school, and you're throwing all this at her at a time when it's very important for you to be studying for exams.

If you want to work this out with your roommate, you need to try to understand her perspective. Which, again, is that you are breaking the lease and trying to force her to live with some random stranger. She may be worrying more than necessary, but you're never going to talk her down from that point or come to any understanding if you don't understand that from her perspective you're doing something shitty to her.

If you really want to move out now despite all this, pay your four months' rent and give your notice.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:06 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think it really depends on the city. In NY people move out and get subletters and break leases all the time, and I haven't seen it cause any particular ire. Life does happen, things change, etc. Your roomie may be upset, but it's kind of a 'big whoop' situation in my opinion, and I usually agonize about every possible thing on the planet. But this is not something I would agonize about, unless your lease specifically said you are not allowed to sublet, or if your roommate actually starts legal proceedings.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 9:14 AM on February 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


It's likely she doesn't want to talk to you because she is frustrated, possibly panicking. I don't think it sheds a negative light on her that she wants to avoid you if you are not negotiating a way to work things out more reasonably than it sounds like you are.
posted by waving at 9:14 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Put yourself in her shoes. If she moved out and installed some stranger as your new roommate, wouldn't you want to vet the person who would be sharing your living space?
posted by desuetude at 9:17 AM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


My roommate doesn't want a subletter because she's studying for her board exams in the next month, and also refuses to pay to cover the vacancy.

You should pay to cover the vacancy.
posted by destructive cactus at 9:20 AM on February 20, 2015 [33 favorites]


I agree you sound blithe about essentially breaking a legal agreement. I don't think you realize how much a subleter, even a seemingly "reasonable, reliable" one, can upend one's living situation.

I had a roommate who wanted to sublet her room for a month. I agreed. I interviewed a friend of a friend of hers, a guy via Skype and he seemed TOTALLY reasonable and reliable, living with his girlfriend, friendly, good manners, etc. Boy did it turn out to be unpleasant. He was basically hitting on me until I directly asked him to back off. Who knew he'd be such a creep? He sure didn't seem that way. It's just not something you can tell until you live with the person. And that was just a month, but it upended my life for that short time. I can't imagine having to study for exams at the same time.

I think you need to put yourself in your roommate's shoes. She is obviously not a carefree, anything goes kind of person. She's probably someone who tends to stress out about exams. Clearly she needs to feel comfortable in her environment. She probably took some time to create a comfortable living situation, based on a legal agreement with you, and now you're acting as if it doesn't matter. I'd be pissed too if I were her.

Next time you move in with someone maybe you should pick a person who is more carefree if this is how you'd like to treat lease agreements.
posted by lillian.elmtree at 9:20 AM on February 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


As a sidenote, the aggrieved roommate could—potentially, and depending on state laws and how the lease is written and exactly how angry they are and a bunch of other factors—really make this into an ugly situation. Their ability to hurt you is not necessarily limited to reputational damage or dirty looks in the hallway in school.

E.g. they could let you walk, pay the entire rent for the next few months in order to avoid eviction, but then turn around and take you to small-claims court. (Or depending on the amount, like if we're talking NYC/SF rents, maybe real court!) If you're both still on the lease, and you never got yourself removed from it, and the remaining roommate has records showing you never paid any rent and left her with the bill (which, if the landlord is basically on her side, wouldn't be hard to pull together)... I don't know if it'd be a slam-dunk for her, but I certainly wouldn't want to be on the other end of that argument.

Anyway, the stakes may be a bit higher than they appear, if the other person wants to escalate things. Tread carefully.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:20 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Roommates have pulled this on me before and honestly, one of the most irritating things is the cavalier way they assumed finding a new roommate would be no bigs.

"But I'll help!" -Um, you're not me? You don't have to live with this person you find?

I ended up spending hours, days, answering emails and vetting applicants. I don't blame your roommate at all for not agreeing to do this for you, as she's under no obligation. Why did you sign a legal document you had no intention of upholding?
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:29 AM on February 20, 2015 [26 favorites]


Hey, can you come back and add some more details? Right now it sounds like you're both being immature jerks, but the balance of blame and level of your responsibility could shift pretty dramatically depending on things like what your lease says (I've had leases that say that both leasees have to approve any subletters, that only the landlord has to approve subletters, or that subletters aren't allowed at all, to give you an example of the possible significant differences).
posted by klangklangston at 9:33 AM on February 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


At the very least, can you push back your move-out/subletter vetting process a month or so, until after she's finished boards? Springing this on your roommate at a normal time shades anywhere from kind of inconvenient but understandable to fairly rude and selfish depending on your exact reasons and financials and all, but springing this on her a month before a major gauntlet that will determine if a goal she's spent most of her life working towards will be reached is unforgivable. Apologize, tell her you're good for the next 1-2 months (whenever she'd be done, paperwork filed and all with exams) and ask if you can reopen it then if you're absolutely intent on moving out before the lease is up.

(and yeah, after you've finished figuring out what it will take for you to either stay or pay absentee rent for 1-2 months, consider whether it would be that much more onerous to do the other 2-3. 4 months really isn't a long time.)
posted by kagredon at 9:35 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think not talking to you is a bit childish but it seems as though you are going about this as though you are right, OP, and you most certainly are not. You act like you're doing her a favour by finding subletters, but if I were her, I would be just as apprehensive about living with some random stranger.

If your roommate had posted her side of this here, I would have commended her for how she handled the situation.
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:38 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


How can I let this go in my head so that I can focus on things that matter in my life (studying for my own exams and just enjoying life)? I must focus on my own studies.

Let's not make this all about you buttercup. You fucked up on a business agreement between people, and the less you think this is about your roommate being 'unfair' to you, the better. His/her reaction is completely understandable, especially if you pulled the 'life change happening in 3 days gotta move' card, without it being a major death in the family.

I am distressed about this whole situation-- I thought that people who needed to move out would find a sane subletter, and get on with their lives. I wasn't prepared for something like this (although her response is only confirming that my decision to move out was a good one...).


No, her response is any sane person's response to breaking a business agreement between presumably amiable friends. If she hasn't torched your reputation yet, I'd say she's being pretty reasonable.

This exact situation happened to me last year right before I had to take my USMLE Step 1 Medical Boards, and sorry, but my ex-roommate is persona non grata, to me, and every other friend I had in our medical school, and that's probably what's going to happen to you in your grad program unless you pull out some major steps in rectifying the situation.
posted by kurosawa's pal at 9:42 AM on February 20, 2015 [37 favorites]


I once broke a lease, forcing my roommates to scramble to find a replacement for me, and to this day I regret it. My best friend and I didn't speak for a year because of it. I'm all for rocking the boat but you don't want to burn this bridge. You don't want to start a reputation of not honoring agreements--especially legally-binding agreements!--ESPECIALLY if you're going to have continued interactions with this person. People talk.
posted by girlmightlive at 9:48 AM on February 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Her response to all of this is reasonable. You thinking you're not remotely wrong or at fault her? Not so much. You need to pony up the last few months of rent and honor the lease you signed.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:50 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


In NY people move out and get subletters and break leases all the time, and I haven't seen it cause any particular ire. Life does happen, things change, etc. Your roomie may be upset, but it's kind of a 'big whoop' situation in my opinion, and I usually agonize about every possible thing on the planet.

Agree with this. This is so par for the course in the rental situations I've been in and seen that I'm shocked by the ire you're attracting. Now, at the same time, I once had a grad school roommate suggest she was moving out, wouldn't find a subletter, and wouldn't be willing to pay. That was bad form (and I told her no way in hell). But it seems to me like you're doing your due diligence. Maybe there's some cultural/regional difference at play here. I think it's definitely crappy of her to refuse to speak to you about it. You should be able to work this out like grown-ups, especially if your lease allows you to sublet.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:58 AM on February 20, 2015 [14 favorites]


This is a huge thing to drop on her if she's got board exams in a month. I would want to avoid the whole situation, also. Could you stick it out, or at least pay rent, for another month or two and let her address this after her exams?
posted by amtho at 10:03 AM on February 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


A roommate moving out is normal. Usually the roommate who stays vets the new possibilities because they are going to be living with them.

But you're talking about taking boards in a month. What I would suggest is apologising to roommate about bringing it up just before the board exams, and saying you can discuss the issue again once the exams are over, and not bring it up until after the exams.

At that point, yes, she'd be petty about refusing to even discuss subletting (though she may well be legally in the right), but you've already poisoned the well here.
posted by jeather at 10:07 AM on February 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


The subletter may look reasonable and reliable, but she has no way of knowing whether that person is going to be playing loud music at 2am or leaving dirty dishes in the sink or is in some other way not a fun person to live with. Especially considering she is studying for exams, what would her incentive be to do that huge favor for you just because you feel like moving out?

Four months is really not a very long period of time... I don't understand why your move can't wait until then, or if you MUST move ASAP find a way to cover rent for both places for that time.
posted by Asparagus at 10:09 AM on February 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


In NY people move out and get subletters and break leases all the time, and I haven't seen it cause any particular ire. Life does happen, things change, etc. Your roomie may be upset, but it's kind of a 'big whoop' situation in my opinion, and I usually agonize about every possible thing on the planet.

This is actually exactly why I wanted to know exactly how much notice you were giving her. Because - speaking as a New Yorker who's had roommates move out and sublet and such - it's one thing to tell your roommate "I'm going to be moving out in a month," and another thing to tell them "I'm going to be moving out in A WEEK AND A HALF." Giving her at least a months' notice gives her time to put the ad on Craigslist, make appointments to meet people and show them the place and talk to them, make up her mind who she wants, do the negotiation in case they have more questions, etc., etc., etc. People do get subletters all the time, but it's not an overnight process.

So yes, in NY people move out and get subletters all the time - but the ones who only give you last-minute notice are generally regarded as being really, really selfish. So that's exactly why I wanted to know how much notice you gave your roommate - because if you gave her a months' notice, then yes, your roommate is overreacting, but if you only gave her a weeks' notice, then your roommate is COMPLETELY justified.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:19 AM on February 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


Well, You could make her feel really sorry she decided to make this difficult for you by simply staying those 4 months and making life hell for her while you're staying there. Eating her food, playing music at 2 am, going through her closet...


Thing is it's hard to know who's in the wrong here because "life-happened" doesn't mean much. I lived in a situation where it was routine for people to leave short notice and being replaced by people on CL. (Living in nyc) whereas other places this happens a lot less. I had a room-mate give only 1 week's notice before moving (left due to new job out of state) and no one cared. We replaced him right away. Though that was a unique situation. Usually there was 30 days notice. So from my perspective she does sound unreasonable, but there are too many unknowns to be sure.
posted by manderin at 10:41 AM on February 20, 2015


It sounds to me like you've put her in the position of either approving the person you pick without much involvement and screening, OR taking time while she's trying to study for the boards to engage in the roommate search.

How about this as a compromise:
- you pay the rent through the time she takes the board exam, plus 2 weeks or a little more.
- after she takes the boards, you find subletters and arrange for them to come in and interview at set times she has agreed for them to come in?

That way you get out of the last two months or so of the lease, and she isn't unexpectedly trying to screen and adapt to new roommates while stressed and studying.
posted by mercredi at 10:55 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I had arranged a subletter for three months I was going to be out of the country when I still lived with a roommate, but my roommate was having none of it. So I paid 3 months of rent. And then, I moved in with my boyfriend with 5 months left on the next year's less, I again couldn't find a subletter she approved of. So I covered my half of the last 5 months of rent. If you can't find an agreeable subletter, you are on the hook for the rent for the lease you both signed on to. I'm sorry. It sucks. I'm still pissed at my roommate for being so unreasonable (and eating my way out of the financial hole). But that's the way it goes, sometimes.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:56 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Clearly there are some differences in opinion here about how reasonable subletting is! As someone upthread noted, there is the possibility of this becoming a legal battle. Given that, it probably makes sense to start documenting what happens... with as much paper trail as you can, but even keeping a notebook of your own is better than nothing. "2/20-- Found another subletter possibility, roommate refused to discuss the person, 2/23 -- Texted my roommate asking to find a time to talk in person to sort this out, 2/25 -- Still no response from roommate" etc., etc. You're trying to create evidence to support your side of the story, which would likely be that you were reasonable in trying to find a subletter and that your roommate was being unreasonable by refusing to even talk/declining all the possibilities you offered.

(Obvs, IANAL and TINLA).

Also, clearly, in this court of MeFi public opinion you're losing right now. I think the biggest reason is because you didn't really say why you're leaving--I know my own opinion of the ethics changes depending on why you're leaving.

In terms of the social dynamics/life fallout, it seems like you're faced with a knot to reflect on. Are your reasons for leaving compelling enough to deal with all this conflict and turmoil? Or, all things considered, would it be easier for you to just stick it out for four months? Seems pretty clear, either way, that things aren't going to be exactly cozy with roommate in the future.

Oh, and I just want to add: the law is not the be-all and end-all of human ethics. I can imagine situations in which you needed to break a legal agreement and that doesn't make you a bad person. And the context matters. Good luck!
posted by overglow at 10:59 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


[This is a followup from the asker.]
I am moving out for several reasons. One major one is that living with my roommate, who has certain strange behaviors around food, triggered my eating disorder, which I am still in treatment for. My roommate doesn't know this because my ED isn't something that is immediately obvious based on my weight, but it is affecting me a great deal. I didn't know how to put it in a nice, non-personal, non-judgey way: "I like you as a roommate, but seeing your own behaviours around food and exercise are negatively affecting my health," so to keep things as impersonal as possible I simply told her that I need space. I apologized profusely, screened lots of roommates, gave her three weeks notice and additionally offered to pay for March. Four months isn't a long time, I agree. And I wish there were a better way to express what is going on without going into too much personal detail... But it is still too long in terms of my mental and physical health.

Also: my lease allows subleasing, but we didn't explicitly discuss this path before signing on as roommates because this was completely unanticipated back then.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:02 AM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Having read the follow up, you either need to be honest about your medical issues with your roommate, or you need to pay the money. It seems like your roommate's food habits could be easily changed if you just talked to them.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:13 AM on February 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


Unfortunately, I think you're out of luck legally. You don't say where you live, but I know that in my state, the landlord has to accept any "reasonable" tenant - but I very strongly doubt that applies in the case of an occupied apartment, especially with things like the Mrs. Murphy exemption that are included in laws for similar situations.

As far as what to do, it does sound like your current location isn't great for your mental health. I'd look at the extra rent as the price of getting yourself healthy. However, it really doesn't seem like your roommate is in the most mentally healthy place either. Would it be possible to set up a meeting with her parents (plus or minus your roommate, depending) and see if they could help you brainstorm ideas of a roommate that she would feel comfortable living with?
posted by fermezporte at 11:14 AM on February 20, 2015


Okay, that does help clarify things.

I think that offering to pay for March is a MAJOR step towards putting you in the Path Of The Right, so yay. The only thing I would advise is: it's one thing for YOU to be screening for roommates, but SHE'S the one who has to live with them, so it's on HER to screen them. Unless by "screening" you mean that you're just doing the general "are you crazy or broke" initial check.

The legalese may still be an issue, and you probably should fess up that "look this is about my own health", but at least it looks like you're doing what you can to soften the blow for her, and that's good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:15 AM on February 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thanks for sharing that, asker! Seems like a really stressful, delicate subject--I can understand why you've been hesitant to discuss the issue with her (and with us here). At the same time, I think it's important--socially and maybe legally--to communicate with her more about what's going on and what's at stake for you. She might be more willing to work with you to find a subletter if she knows why you need to leave.

I have a few ideas about how to navigate that without just talking one-on-one. (I mean, that might still work, but it seems like communications have broken down between you two.) One, might you be able to get the person/institution you're in treatment with to write a letter to your roommate and/or your landlord? That leads us to the possibility of continuing the trend of using your landlord as a go-between. I also wonder, given that you're in the same small grad program, if you might be able to find someone who can--formally or informally--act as a mediator for the two of you. Someone you both trust to be neutral and fair.

Also, I'm sorry that you're in what sounds like a shitty, stressful situation. And that you tried to find a solution that seems to have blown up in your face. At a time which is high stress already--with exams and whatnot--for both of you. I hope you can find a solution that results in a great living situation and peace and calm and good relations for both of you.
posted by overglow at 11:16 AM on February 20, 2015


Ah, this changes a lot. I have more sympathy for you now. The problem is, your roommate is still in the dark about the motivations behind this decision, so that makes it difficult for her to be sympathetic toward you and interested in working out a compromise. It sucks, but I think you've got to talk to her about what's going on.
posted by Asparagus at 11:17 AM on February 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


You are hardly being a giant asshole by moving out before the lease is up, regardless of why. I don't think you need to have a life-changing crisis to be justified in leaving before the lease is up, or that it's unfair to move just because your roommate has other stuff going on in her life, or that having to live with a Craigslist roommate means dooming her to live with some horrible creepy weirdo. If anything, good friends can make surprisingly bad roommates, which can be worse because roommate issues become friend issues and vice versa-- I am maybe getting the feeling that this is what's happening here?

Yes, you could have given her more notice but given your update it looks like you did everything I would want someone moving out to do. One of my roommates is moving out and gave less notice than you and we've already found someone to take the room. Like you, she took the lead on posting ads, picking out the best potential subletters, and she also coordinated times for them to meet us and view the apartment; the rest of us only had to take an hour or two to meet people and decide on who to pick, really couldn't have been easier.

Given your roommate's nuclear reaction to all of this I'm not sure you could patch things over with her whether you stay or go, or if you disclose why you're leaving. I would lean towards breaking the lease over paying her the remaining 4 months of rent since she's behaving so ridiculously, but that's just me. Also talk to the landlord to see what you can work out-- I'm sure at this point he is over the drama and just wants the issue resolved so that he can be sure the rent is paid moving forward.
posted by fox problems at 11:21 AM on February 20, 2015


I think it's fine that you're moving out. But you should let her find a new roommate and pay until she does. Or at least offer to pay for a couple months as a compromise. If she doesn't find a roommate at all and forces you to pay for the full four months, then at least she's in the wrong and your conscience is clear.
posted by cnc at 11:33 AM on February 20, 2015


Breaking a lease is such a traumatic thing that it is really important to explain to the roommate WHY you're doing it. This is water under the bridge at this point. If you could tell her, "I have a health issue that I'm not comfortable discussing with you, but it necessitates my moving out so that I can address it. I want to work with you so that you're not dealing with this while you're studying for boards, but I can't stay here anymore and I can't afford to pay rent in two different places. What can we do that can accommodate both of us?"

If you have an eating disorder that you are in recovery for, it's as important to disclose this to a potential roommate, as it would be to disclose that you were a recovering addict. A recovering addict would want to move into a sober house, one where there weren't trigger or temptations to relapse. It's the same for those of us with eating disorders.

Drinking and using are binary, either you are or you're not. Food is different. What looks like controlled and healthy eating to one person, may be interpreted as restricting by another.

This being the case, it seems that for now, your optimal living situation would be alone, with no roommates.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:35 AM on February 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


I got the impression from the OP's update that the roommate's behavior triggered a latent eating disorder, causing her to need ongoing treatment. Regardless, I don't think someone needs to disclose any kind of health issue to a potential roommate, whether it's an eating disorder, recovery from a drug addiction, well-managed mental health issues, irritable bowel syndrome, or anything else. That's not reasonable -- and that goes double if the problem wasn't active before she moved in.

OP, whether or not it's legally your responsibility or even ethically your responsibility, you may make the decision that it's better to just pay out than to continue to try and engage. But I don't think you're being unreasonable; quite the opposite.
posted by KathrynT at 11:42 AM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


That's a really tough situation, and you certainly aren't required to disclose your circumstances to the roommate.

But, there is still no combination of factors that can force your roommate to be pleased that she now has to live with some stranger because you want to leave early. And you may be exacerbating the tension with what seems to be a "What are you so maaaaad about???" attitude instead of, "I TOTALLY get that this is really inconvenient for you and I am super sorry to be leaving you in the lurch, and I will uphold my responsibilities to the best of my ability."

The only places I am aware of that have such loose per-lessee subletting agreements are a) NYC, b) student housing leased on a per-bedroom basis, in which case there should have been some amount of understanding going in that you can't count on your roommate staying, but also in those places she would not be responsible for your rent and the landlord would lease your room to someone else, which is merely very stressful and not potentially financially devastating.

Some sympathy on your part might go a long way to this not being as awful a situation as it is. If you're blaming her for your relapse and punishing her, that's not productive for either of you or the situation or your standing in this program.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:58 AM on February 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


I disagree with the above posters that your health issue somehow absolves you of your responsibility to pay your bills. While a mutually agreeable subletter would be a good compromise, if no such person exists, you should pay for the entirety of your lease.
posted by deadweightloss at 12:05 PM on February 20, 2015 [45 favorites]


Well for one, I wouldn't mention the eating disorder to this roommate because that will get talked about in your small grad school program if she is really mad at you.

I am not sure what advice to give you - does the lease spell out whether the other roommate will HAVE to accept a subletter if someone leaves? Or does it just say that subletting is allowed? If it doesn't specify that she has to accept someone, then it's really a matter of trying to negotiate this out with her. Maybe say you have the option of 3 people you found, and you need her to pick the one who seems most reliable and you will cc the landlord on all communication so he/she knows that you are actively looking for a replacement.

Have you thought about getting the landlord involved? Tell the landlord who you've screened to take over the lease, and that your roommate refused to accept them. The landlord might be more interested in making sure someone is paying rent and will find a way to force the roommate to accept a candidate who has a job and seems like a decent person.

The other thing is, some states have laws that in the case of a broken lease you are only responsible for rent until you are replaced, and the landlord has to show proof of actively trying to replace you, instead of letting the place be empty and collecting checks from you. Not sure how this works if there is another roommate involved in the lease, but I imagine it would be similar. can you look up state laws?

Oh and don't forget to insist on getting your deposit back if you paid up until the move-in date of the replacement person. The landlord might be annoyed and refuse to pay it since you broke the lease, but I believe in most states, as I said above, if you covered rent until the new person moved in you're OK, and the deposit should be only be used to fix excessive wear and tear. Painting, nail holes are typical wear and tear. Don't let anyone charge you for that.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 12:11 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Your health doesn't matter; you need to pay the rent until your roommate finds a subletter, which might not happen. No excuses, sorry.
posted by michaelh at 12:15 PM on February 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


Two things:

1. Just to balance out the pile-on a bit: I've lived in many big-city flat-shares where it was totally normal for one person to move out with a month's notice, help to find a replacement (if required) and move on. That may or may not be the norm in the OP's situation, but folk should be aware that there are many different cultures around shared rentals like this, so an absolute "OMFG HOW DARE YOU?!" response is not necessarily helpful.

2. In response to your little-noticed question, How can I let this go in my head? Both CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and mindfulness meditation have methods that can help you when you're struggling with persistent worry and rumination on a particular issue, such that it's affecting your everyday life. I won't link to resources here as I'm on my phone and they're easy to find online in general, and on AskMe in particular.

Good luck - it's really tough when home stops being a refuge and becomes a source of stress.
posted by penguin pie at 12:20 PM on February 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't want to make light of your eating disorder, but I'm thinking of this from your roommate's point of view and I would be very miffed, to say the least, and might talk about you to our colleagues as flaky, etc. etc. Not to mention the very real financial stress that's adding to her boards prep and quickly eroding any goodwill she still has for you.

Is there some way you can manage your eating disorder through the remainder of the lease term? Forgive me if this is reductive, but could you not share meal times, be stricter about food storage (e.g. Shelf A is yours, Shelf B is hers), ramp up on therapy/meds as needed? I am very sympathetic to your situation, but it is your problem and not hers, and you should do everything in your power right now not to make it hers. Good luck, though--and this will pass!
posted by witchen at 12:21 PM on February 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


Also: my lease allows subleasing, but we didn't explicitly discuss this path before signing on as roommates because this was completely unanticipated back then.

Does your lease SAY she has to approve subletters or just that you need to find one?
posted by DarlingBri at 12:40 PM on February 20, 2015


I actually think ignoring each other is maybe not the worst way to go. I'd say apologize to her for springing this on her, and tell her you will stick it out until the end of the lease. Then for the next four months, be in the library studying a lot, or out enjoying life a lot, and only come home to crash and shower and refuel. Make a schedule where you map out your whole day, so that sleep and shower and stocking up on snacks happens at home, and then the whole rest of the day is out and about, including however many hours you need in a well-lighted study space. It will minimize your exposure to the roommate's habits. And it will eliminate the stress that you're adding to your life by moving (major stressor) and antagonizing the roommate.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 12:45 PM on February 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Breaking a lease is such a traumatic thing that it is really important to explain to the roommate WHY you're doing it.

This sentiment is so bizarre to me. Breaking a lease isn't traumatic. The OP isn't violating some sacred code. I've grabbed Ruthless Bunny's text almost at random. This whole thread is a strange journey through people's expectations about shared housing.

While it is definitely worth trying to work out the problems leading up to the move, if OP has decided she needs to go, the reasons are immaterial. The OP is doing a thing that is specifically permitted by the terms of her rental agreement. Yes, the OP has a duty to pay rent until a reasonable replacement is found. But the roommate also has a duty to mitigate the impact and not act like a spoiled child.

Both OP and the roommate should reconsider living with other people in the future. It sounds like both would benefit from avoiding these very normal things that happen when you live with roommates.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 12:55 PM on February 20, 2015 [14 favorites]


Your health is your personal business and I don't think you should have to tell her about it, but keep in mind you haven't given her any reason to be more sympathetic towards you if all you told her is you need space. It probably sounds to her like you're breaking the lease out of nowhere for no good reason, or like you just can't stand living with her but don't want to tell her that (which is true, really).
posted by wondermouse at 12:56 PM on February 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm in the "this isn't a big deal" camp. Yes, you signed a contract. But shit happens. People sometimes break leases. I don't think you've done anything terribly wrong here, and I do think she is being unreasonable in her behavior.

I don't think you are obligated to tell her the reason you're moving out, that's incredibly personal. You've already apologized profusely, I don't think you need to apologize anymore.

The only way to avoid this for sure in the future is to live alone, which can be great if you can afford it. As for letting it go, if you're in therapy, I would ask your therapist for techniques to allow you to focus on what you need to focus on.

Unfortunately I think you might have to end up paying rent in two places at once, if your lease states that the roommate left behind gets to veto sub-letters.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 12:57 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Breaking a lease isn't traumatic.

Being saddled with huge expenses because your roommate who signed a lease ditched you, while you're studying for career tests? Yes, that's seriously traumatic.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:59 PM on February 20, 2015 [28 favorites]


[Folks, keep in mind this is Ask and not a place for general arguments; please focus on answering the question directly and avoid getting into arguments with one another.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:01 PM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Triggering your eating disorder" is, in my mind and potentially your roommate's if you explain, not actually a clear-cut reason to move out.

If she's telling you you're fat each morning, sure, that would bother anyone and in many cases exacerbate an eating disorder. Disordered eating of her own is a little more nebulous--a few other AskMes have covered this, from having an eating disorder herself to just being weird about food sometimes. At some point, it's clear that you are the one who needs to change. The problem "her behavior triggers your eating disorder" needs to be solved at the "triggers your eating disorder" point rather than the "her behavior" point.

To be fair, you may not realistically be able to change this within the next four months. My potential concern if her problematic behavior were pretty minor would be, though, that you're basically valuing a small amount of privacy over a huge amount of utility for both yourself and a pretty nice roommate. That is, if you could get over the hurdle of talking to her about this (which it sounds like you might have to in order to move out amicably, anyway!) you could probably avoid moving out.

But I agree with others who have said that having a health condition that requires you to move out--no matter how serious it is--entitles you only to sympathy, not to help with your rent or an out on the lease.
posted by cogitron at 1:05 PM on February 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


What are the terms of your lease? Are you both on the same lease? Do you have a roommate agreement? Scour all your related documents for any relevant clauses. Then find a tenant attorney in your area.

Nthing ocherdraco. Read, re-read and triple-read your lease. Consult an attorney or tenants' organization.

Giving notice in: 1) The dead of winter; and 2) Right before exams has created a perfect storm of mental and financial stress for both you and your roommate. This is why contracts exist. Read your lease, own up to what you signed for, and make sure your roommate does the same.
posted by invisible ink at 1:12 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


>>What can I / should I say or do to minimize the conflict?
It's pretty difficult when you don't get much contact, but when you do, the same tools used with difficult clients and marital disputes apply: listen with open body language, don't interrupt, don't spend the time thinking about how you're going to tell your side of the story. When it's your turn to talk, acknowledge her points, agree where you can "yeah, I can see it's really stressful to think about a new roomie right now" without saying "but" to minimise her feelings. There's some great suggestions for compromises further upthread, but once she has felt listened to, maybe she'll be willing to offer one herself.

>>What did I do wrong to make her so upset? Am I being inconsiderate? Should I apologize to her?
Ha, I think that's been well and truly covered above.

>>What should I do in the future to avoid situations like these?
I like to live alone, myself. I'll choose less salubrious accomodation than sharing would get me, just so I don't have to go through this. And it's been me and them, at different times.

>>How can I let this go in my head so that I can focus on things that matter in my life (studying for my own exams and just enjoying life)? I must focus on my own studies.
When you can, practice mindfulness (a lovely distraction from intrusive thoughts).
posted by b33j at 2:09 PM on February 20, 2015


I've lived with roommates for 20 years and after a few hellish experiences, will never live with strangers again. She may well have had a bad experience with roommates in her past. And screening people takes time and mental headroom she doesn't have right now. Depending on the exact words you used and how you've been interacting with her recently, she may also think that you don't like her and have taken offense.

You can sit down and address her behaviors and how they're affecting you and see if it's things that she can change.

If you're not willing to do that, you tell her that you're having a medical issue and need more privacy so you need to move out; that you'll continue paying rent; and that after she's done with the board exam, you'd really appreciate it if she'd be willing to consider a subleaser then. But legally and (as far as I'm concerned) ethically, you're still on the hook for the lease. It's a painful lesson and it's not fair, but if sharing a space is something that can cause you mental issues, the impetus is on you to make sure that there's an escape hatch plan before starting a lease, because unless you're in one of the areas where single person leases in shared spaces are common, it's not fair to change the plan on someone unexpectedly.
posted by Candleman at 2:25 PM on February 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


One of these things needs to happen:

1. You tell her and the landlord you are having a health crisis.
2. You pay the full amount you signed on to pay for the next four months.
3. You don't move yet.

Sorry, I think you will have to give in on one of the above. Moving, not having to pay, AND keeping your reasons completely secret and casual? Yeah, nope.
posted by quincunx at 5:25 PM on February 20, 2015 [17 favorites]


Oooof, I'd be careful about the advice to lay all your cards on the table. Unless you're very, very sure that (a) she is not the kind of person who views eating disorders or mental health in general cavalierly or vindictively, and that she will not repeat this to other people in an effort to tar you (this should never happen, but unfortunately it does, and you need to protect yourself) and that (b) her issues with food are not related to a past or ongoing eating disorder of her own (in which case a discussion during an already stressful time could trigger worsened behavior or relapsing, which could very seriously affect her exams and thus her future), I'd just leave it at "I have some health issues I'm working through and my doctor and I think that living alone would make a meaningful difference to recovery" (possibly accompanied by a note). And try to delay any in-depth logistical discussion until after her exams, at which point she will likely be much more open to compromise. (I am normally a fairly go-with-the-flow person, and I was more-or-less continuously on the brink of murderous rampage by the time I was at the one-month-until-quals-were-done mark.)

You know the situation better than anyone here does.
posted by kagredon at 7:04 PM on February 20, 2015


Under no circumstances should you tell this woman her eating is disordered. There is zero chance this will improve relations between you.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:56 PM on February 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


The tone of the OP is so, SOOOOO blithe and casual; I expect that this tone was conveyed to the roomie as well, and that's one reason she was so upset (in addition to the fact that she didn't want to deal with this while studying for her exam).

Regardless of whether or not you share the specific health details with your roomie, what you DO need to convey is that you understand her side of the situation. You seem very self-absorbed here, and like you really haven't put yourself in her shoes. Yet, you seem to want her to be sympathetic to *your* needs, and go out of her way to spend time vetting room-mates on short notice.

Do you not see, at this point, after having a chance to think about it and after reading these comments, how your action negatively impacts your roomie and why she's upset? If you don't, you have more to work on than your eating disorder.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 12:34 AM on February 21, 2015 [14 favorites]


1. From a legal perspective - as many have suggested above, check your agreement with your roommate. What does it say? If it says nothing (as it likely will), you could consider consulting a paralegal. A lawyer will cost too much money. Or you could just leave and you could be taken to small claims (sorry, I'm in Canada - I don't know the U.S. equivalent).

2. From an ethical (somewhat legal) perspective - think about your agreement with your roommate to share a home together. You agreed to share not only an apartment, but a home. What would you two agree re: one moving out early and getting a "reasonable tenant" to replace one of you? What would happen if one person also was concerned her eating disorder would be triggered by the other person?

My opinion is that this apartment is your home as well as your roommate's home. The two of you agreed to live together. Unless you have evidence otherwise, my guess is you two agreed to live with each other, not a "reasonable" replacement. Why? Because this isn't an office or a workplace or impersonal whatever. It's a home, period, and most people want to live with the specific person they've agreed to live with, not a "reasonable" stranger.

The fact that you have an eating disorder that was triggered by your roommate sucks. I'm sorry - I know what that is like. It's your home too and you should feel totally fine about moving out. But the fact that your roommate's odd behaviour may have triggered it does not mean that your roommate is partly to blame here for the fact you have to move out. You have to move out (you've reached that conclusion), but should she actually have to bear the responsibility for this? Should she be forced to live with a "reasonable" stranger because of this or cover the rent for you? My own personal belief is that you should pay the four months rent. Life happens, but that doesn't mean you don't have to pay up when it does.
posted by thelivingsea at 4:57 PM on February 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


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