Roommate moved out; his brother moved in; I didn't get a say.
March 22, 2015 9:57 AM   Subscribe

I've been living with a roommate I haven't been too happy with because I was very poor a few months ago and needed to find a roommate urgently so I could continue living in my apartment. It wasn't a great relationship but he gradually stopped staying in the apartment and indicated he had plans to move out in March. Then he let me know his brother would be moving into his room.

I didn't know how to immediately react, so I placated them through the process because I was figuring my options and didn't see a natural point to say "no". I met with his brother, who seemed at least clean and reasonable.

Last night, his brother moved in on a day when I was out for the entire day, from 10 AM to midnight. I had been told a move-in wouldn't be until April at the earliest. He indicated that he had already moved in and planned to stay. He had also moved around a lot of the furniture, when I had planned on hosting people the next day and had it arranged to host people.

I might not hate him as a roommate, I just feel like I'm being coerced into this situation and that I would rather have a roommate who I can enthusiastically consent to.

It's made me uncomfortable how fast this has happened and I don't feel like I've really had a spot to say no - if there was a time I could put my foot down, it might have already passed.

I brought the furniture concern to his attention because it seemed like the easiest place to start a discussion, and his response was that, if any of his changes made me uncomfortable, he was fine slowing down or not doing them. Which is a good response, and I don't begrudge him for being willing to work with me, but I still feel fundamentally violated and would rather have him out.

It's entirely possible I'm in the wrong; it's entirely possible there's no way to do this nicely.

I've considered moving out, potentially to a single apartment but part of me asks why I should be the one moving out under these circumstances.

(important to note: neither he nor his brother are on the current lease, which ends at the end of April. They have a copy of the form to be added to the lease, but no lease for the upcoming term has been signed yet.)
posted by LSK to Human Relations (20 answers total)
It's possible that if you are on the lease, and the brothers are not, that you are their landlord (depends on what jurisdiction you're in and the nature of your lease). Talk to a tenancy advocacy group in your area - they might be able to help you figure out what to do.
posted by lookoutbelow at 10:04 AM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

which ends at the end of April.

Tell him the lease is up at the end of April, which it is, and that you have your own housing plans (which may indeed be staying in that apartment but with a different roommate, or maybe you'll leave and find a new place) starting at that time, so he'll know the date he needs to move out.

Unless he's violent or bringing dangerous things into your home, you can put up with a month of weird roommate.
posted by phunniemee at 10:07 AM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Original roommate probably thought he was being a decent person by finding a replacement for himself in the room (his brother) and since you never objected I kind of feel like you agreed to this. At this point treating the brother badly merely because you had unexpressed other wishes would be unfair.

That said, I think it would be best to wait and see how he is as a roommate, and then it would be ok to say that you want to move once the lease is up. Or you could tell him you have a friend who wants to move in, and give him a large chunk of notice.
posted by celtalitha at 10:26 AM on March 22, 2015 [26 favorites]

It's not clear to me what your question is. Since one of things you're contemplating is whether your expectations are unreasonable, I'll go ahead and say that they kind of seem unreasonable to me. I say this because it sounds like you were given plenty of warning about their intentions, you met the prospective new roommate, and you did not protest. Now the new guy has invested time and labor in the effort to move in, and he has surely foregone other housing options along the way. That he did so a week or so early is not great, but it seems like a minor infraction.

You might very well be able to kick him out sometime soon, but I don't think you can reasonably expect him to like it or see you as having been decent about it.
posted by jon1270 at 10:39 AM on March 22, 2015 [14 favorites]

It is hard for me to imagine how the brother can have any right to be on the premises. In general, you cannot move yourself into someone else's abode. Assuming that your jurisdiction has anything remotely resembling the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, I don't think the brother has any right to be on the premises at all.

The original roommate sounds like he was an off-lease tenant. As a landlord, I hate off-lease tenants and do not tolerate them for about a hundred legal reasons. I think you are also seeing how an off-lease roommate can cause problems. For example, why did the original roommate still have a key once he moved out? (I presume the brother didn't forcibly enter) Because brother just showed up, I don't think he is an off-lease tenant yet, but he will be if you don't do something.

If he just showed up and you want him out, get your landlord involved now. Alternatively, suck it up for a few weeks and get your own apartment.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:45 AM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You have not been coerced or "violated." The polite thing to do if you are unable to stay on in the current situation would be to ask the brother to find a new roommate in [reasonable time span]; there is no reason he should be asked to move again.

Your take on this seems, from what is spelled out here, so bizarre that I wonder if the financial stress has not taken its toll on your general well-being (totally understandable). You did not "not get a say."

It sounds like you wanted to "consider your options" with no consideration for how your actions/lack thereof might have been affecting other people's lives. Like you thought it might be advantageous to you to keep having a roommate, but you weren't totally sure, so you didn't say no in case it would be advantageous, and... Meanwhile another human being has up and re-located. It would not be reasonable to kick him out. The reason for you to be the one to move out would be because you are the one who made mistakes here.
posted by kmennie at 10:50 AM on March 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

If you want choices then you need to be both pro-active and clear. I am assuming the old roommate was trying to not waste money and not leave you in the lurch with no paying roommate. You now have the opportunity to talk to the new roommate about their plans and see if you need to modify yours etc. Honestly, I think this complaint rates about a -3 on a 1 to 10 scale of being a valid real complaint. If you don't want to get in this situation again you should rent a single and/or get some counselling about having realistic expectations of interactions with other people.
posted by meepmeow at 11:29 AM on March 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I guess, legally, you might have the grounds to kick him out. Or to terminate his sublet at the end of your lease in April.

I just don't think it would be very fair, though, since you apparently at no point told him or his brother that you did not want him to move in. There is certainly no way to do it nicely.
posted by lydhre at 11:49 AM on March 22, 2015 [7 favorites]

Are you absolutely adamant that you are not able to get along with him? If you reframe it as a courtesy that the brother found you a clean, amiable roommate, can you try him out while getting to know him in an open-minded way? Perhaps he might work out or even become a friend. If not, there is still time to show him the door, as suggested above.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:17 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm guessing that they assumed that you would speak up if you were uncomfortable with the change in living situation. In future, when you want to say no but you aren't being asked a yes or no question, you can reframe the situation with a statement like this: "Thank you for your suggestion of having your brother move in. I'm going to think this over and get back to you with my decision."

I was raised to be a self-effacing "lady" and I completely understand how hard it can be to speak up. It's a skill you have to work on to develop as an adult.

I think u
posted by bunderful at 12:30 PM on March 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

Is the only reason why you aren't moving out because you don't see why you should have to?

That seems pretty thin to me. I've moved a lot. Yes, it's a pain. But I've never regretted it. Trying to control your roommates, I have learned over the years, is a futile path full of pain and resentment. Saving enough money to move out and have a nice small, clean, adequate one bedroom apartment or studio feels so much better.

Moving takes one or two days or about a week of cost, annoyance and hassle. Living with a bad roommate is a constant stress. I'd just move. You can find a new place by the end of the lease if you start looking right now.
posted by quincunx at 1:15 PM on March 22, 2015 [7 favorites]

This would be weird if you hadn't met the guy and discussed him moving in, seems to me like you went along with the entire process of vetting a roommate and then decided after he already moved in that maybe you weren't that into the idea. Moving is a pain that takes several days, help from friends/family, and a giant shuffling of every other responsibility for a week. Seems pretty weak to say he "moved in early" as some kind of deception when these guys are blood brothers who did what they said they would on pretty much the time table you discussed (does anyone ever moved in exactly on the 1st?). I assume the rent was paid for both months, if so you're kind of being a dick.

Just go get your own place if you don't want to live with the guy, seems like you had plenty of opportunities to speak up and didn't for whatever reason.
posted by bradbane at 3:38 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It sounds like you hold the lease and these guys walked ALL over you.

Give your notice to the landlord and run screaming from this apartment. My guess is the brother can not pass a credit check. I would not trust him. At all.

He's not even on the lease. That fucker does NOT get to move furniture around.

Walk away quickly and quietly. 30 days notice to the Landlord. You are being either a doormat and/or used.

This is not how adults handle roommates, leases, and general contractual relationships. This is how flakes and users operate, though, down to the surprise move in date.

posted by jbenben at 4:38 PM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Once he lives there between 2 weeks to a month depending on jurisdiction, lease or not, he is a legal tenant. That has serious implications for YOU as the leaseholder.

OMG. Get away from this train before it crashes. You have zero reason to believe what has already happened (how does someone not on the lease "announce" who your new roommate will be??) won't be par for the course down the road. Don't wait around to find out what problems their weird end-run for roommate status is covering up. Run. Run. Run.
posted by jbenben at 4:44 PM on March 22, 2015

Response by poster: I've given this some thought after reading the thread and decided:

1) I screwed up. I should've expressed reservations earlier in the process. I hadn't done this for reasons not discussed above but which have to do with my previous question on this topic (we stored a bed in my now-previous roommate's storage space and I didn't want to get on bad terms with him before it could be retrieved - I've made a lot of mistakes in the context of this roommate situation and they're hopefully lessons learned for the future.)

2) It's clear that the now-roommate has put time and effort into moving here. I'm still really upset that one of the steps in that process didn't include alerting me to the date of the move at least a day in advance, but I respect that he assumed he was in the clear.

3) I'm going to ride the lease out and see if he's someone I'd be comfortable living with, but also try to find roommates I'd be happy to have in a future place. In addition, there's the small chance the landlord doesn't end up letting him go on the lease, which wouldn't be a great outcome overall but would resolve the situation.

4) I'm going to also look for a job that will allow me to comfortably afford a one-bedroom apartment.
posted by LSK at 5:07 PM on March 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

In addition, there's the small chance the landlord doesn't end up letting him go on the lease, which wouldn't be a great outcome overall but would resolve the situation.

It might not. Depending on the laws in your jurisdiction, the length and manner of his stay probably gives him tenant's rights the same as you. The biggest factor is that he is paying rent. Unless your state has a landlord-tenant act from another planet, I think he's a tenant whether or not he's on the lease.

The best way the landlord could handle this would be to refuse to allow him to renew the lease when it expires next month. The terms of the lease will be key here - I have no idea if it automatically renews, the period for giving notice of intent to renew, and so on.
posted by Tanizaki at 5:29 PM on March 22, 2015

In addition, there's the small chance the landlord doesn't end up letting him go on the lease, which wouldn't be a great outcome overall but would resolve the situation.

You know what else would resolve the situation? Being assertive. If something is a problem for you, not just in this particular housing situation but in life, you need to learn to take the steps to solve it yourself. Sitting and waiting and hoping that someone else will fix it for you isn't going to be an effective long term strategy for you.

I forgot that you asked that bed storage question. I remember that question. Stop letting people make decisions for you! Assert yourself!
posted by phunniemee at 6:28 PM on March 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

I think the key problem here is when you say that you "placated them through the process." That leaves you at least morally responsible for the brother's move in, if not legally.
posted by corb at 10:25 AM on March 23, 2015

part of me asks why I should be the one moving out under these circumstances

Because you are so passive that when roommates bring up something and discuss it with you, you feel like you "didn't get a say" in the decision.

You should move out because your personality is simply not suited to having roommates, and you will be better off in a smaller and cheaper apartment. Unless you can somehow modify your current apartment to do that, yeah, you are going to have to move.

I would rather have a roommate who I can enthusiastically consent to

Expecting your prospective roommate to apply enthusiastic consent concepts to your housing discussions isn't likely to work for you to find a good living situation. You need to speak up when you aren't happy with something in your housing situation. Don't wait for someone else to ask you for your opinion. It's OK to have an opinion!
posted by yohko at 1:08 PM on March 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Final update:

Y'all convinced me that I was overreacting and I sat down and talked with the new roommate, just to say that I felt uncomfortable he'd move in without communicating that, and we discussed plans for arranging the living room to produce a shared living space. Over the next few weeks, I warmed up to him.

Then, in a bizarre plot twist, he moved out a week ago, with equally little notice and without ultimately signing the lease. I feel like I dodged a bullet; on the one hand, he didn't seem like a bad person to live with and was considerate as a roommate, but on the other hand, it confirmed that I wasn't going crazy and the lack of communication was on his end.

In the future, I plan to be more proactive and assertive about communication and potential roommate arrangements, and keep them aboveboard with respect to the landlord. For multiple reasons not related to the roommate, I've talked to the landlord more in the past month than I had in the prior year, and I feel a lot more comfortable bringing roommate changes and unexpected incidents up to him than before. Plus, I got to re-sign the lease for the same apartment but as a single occupant with the chance to add a roommate to the lease when I have one, which seems like the best place to be right now.
posted by LSK at 7:00 PM on April 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

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