How to deal with this situation
April 12, 2016 12:37 PM   Subscribe

I am currently living with flatmate and was planning on moving in to boyfriend's flat that he rents. Now some issues have arisen and turns out that I need to stay here, and boyfriend has to move in as well. How do I tell flat mate and estate agent?

Currently I am quite stressed with how to tell everyone about the sudden change.
My brother and I own a flat in an expensive part of the city that is very quiet and has some parks. I was going to move to a very exciting and artistic part of the city where my boyfriend was renting a place for a cheap price, as it belongs to a mother of his friend, even though the location is very expensive. The contract was due to finish at the end of April but it was always known that he would continue to live in the flat and they would renew the contract.

Estate agents have been involved in renting out my flat and there have been viewings for two weeks, and my flat mate is looking for a new place to live so that this home could be rented out to a family. This is because I realised I was charging the flat mate too little and I ended up paying a lot in bills, and if I am not going to live here I would rather the estate agents deal with it. I was planning on moving out in June and I haven't yet signed anything with the estate agents (but am meant to sometime this week).

Now today we suddenly find out that the owner of my boyfriend's flat wants to return to the city, and expects him to move out within two weeks when the contract runs out. I was looking forward to living in an exciting part of town that I love, but for the time being the only place he could move to is to mine. I am still happy we get to live together and also I love my home, so I am not upset about that.

My flat mate however, won't be happy with him moving in. We aren't really friends, she is quite reserved, rarely goes out, and I feel guilty about bringing him so soon with her here. Even though I am the owner and in charge, I dislike being in charge because I don't like causing any discomfort. I would appreciate advice on how to tell her. How can I take her into consideration, if there is any way? There is nothing about this stated in the contract btw. I was thinking of decreasing her rent until June when she is due to move out.

I feel quite guilty also about the estate agents who have put so much effort into getting viewings for the flat. Does this happen regularly? How should I tell them that I don't need their help anymore? I was thinking of sending them an email.
Any advice would be appreciated, thank you.
posted by akita to Human Relations (18 answers total)
Is your flatmate on a lease? If so, I think your boyfriend has to live somewhere else until she moves out in June. It's not really okay to spring someone your roommate doesn't know or like on them for a month of living together.

As for the real estate agents, don't sweat it. this happens.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:43 PM on April 12, 2016 [16 favorites]

Flip the situation.

How would you feel if your flatmate presented it as a fait accompli that their partner was suddenly moving in?

Not cool. Your boyfriend needs to find somewhere else to live if your flatmate doesn't give enthusiastic permission for this to happen.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:45 PM on April 12, 2016 [7 favorites]

Emailing the agents to explain, say thank you and politely but nonspecifically saying you'd be happy to recommend them and use them in future, is probably enough. You can send their office a consumable thank-you gift like cupcakes or chocolates if you really feel bad.

For the flatmate, I think you could tell her he has to move in because your other plans fell through, apologize and offer to discount her rent, and see how her mood is. If she's upset, decreasing her rent significantly (like 50%) is a decent compromise. If she's not that upset, decreasing her rent a bit (like 25%) is still a nice, and fair, thing to do. If she's really upset about it, it's not really fair for him to move in.

Also make sure to have a talk w boyfriend about him not taking up too much space when she's still living there- make sure she gets preferential treatment in terms of use of the common space, tidiness, noise, etc. I had a flatmate move-in his girlfriend unexpectedly and unfairly, and she parked herself in the livingroom or on the porch like 10 hours a day, and commented on the paying flatmates' activities constantly. She was just trying to be friendly, but it was a bit tone-deaf and intrusive, and it took up a lot of space, which sucked. Everyone in the house resented her noise and constant presence.

Maybe also have a nice dinner and drinks with you, her, and your guy very soon after he moves in (like in the first 3 days if possible), so they get to know each other on friendly terms and break the ice a bit.

You sound like a thoughtful person who probably doesn't take advantage of people too often, so I would expect people to cut you slack since it probably doesn't feel like a pattern.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:51 PM on April 12, 2016 [9 favorites]

In addition to discounting rent, give your flatmate the option of terminating her lease early with no penalties.
posted by halogen at 1:11 PM on April 12, 2016 [15 favorites]

What does her lease say about who/how many people are to be living with her? For example, I once rented a place where each of us dealt with the landlady seperately for our rooms. I rented and paid for mine, and had access to the common areas. She rented and paid for hers, and likewise. We did get along. If we hadn't, it would have been up to landlady to mediate any dispute. The more likely scenario would have been that the unhappy party would ask to leave and she would permit it.

Conversely, I have rented places before where all parties were on the lease and we rented it together. In those cases, I would have been quite put out if one of them had someone else living in their room. I don't even know if it would have been allowed in those cases.

So, which is it here? If she is renting just her room, and you as landlady are responsible for filling the other rooms individually, then you simply say you have found the roommate, it's you, and then you negotiate with her for how to bring your boyfriend in to a three-roommate situation. For example, any bills such as power or water which were once split two ways will now be split three ways, and her share will decrease accordingly. And you work out a chore schedule and quiet hours schedule and so forth same as you would in any situation. And if she wants to bail early due to preferring just one roommate instead of two, you completely understand and you let her.

If, on the other hand, her lease specifies things like how many occupants and whether she has veto power, that is a different situation.
posted by JoannaC at 1:18 PM on April 12, 2016

She's paying what you contractually agreed to when you negotiated rent for a two person apartment. It's not her fault you negotiated a low rent, and it's not cool to add a third person without providing recompense.

Talk to your roommate and let her know that the lease will not be renewed in June. If there is no other option but to have the boyfriend move in with the two of you, then you should discount her rent. Boyfriend can make up the difference in household expenses. Also, your boyfriend should put his stuff in storage for a month and not jam your apartment with boxes.
posted by 26.2 at 1:21 PM on April 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Commenting again because I re-read and it seems you already live in this apartment with her?

If so, offer to take her out for dinner, during which you can explain as follows:

1) You were hoping to find a family to move in, as she knew
2) You did, turns out it is your family
3) You understand if it makes her feel uncomfortable and are prepared to let her out of the lease
4) However, you also know that your BF is a considerate guy and wants her to be comfortable

Then you renegotiate with her as a three-roommate situation. There are common expenses which can now be split three ways, instead of two, and this will reduce her expenses. Chores, once split two ways, now will be split three ways. You and BF will be going on a date night every Tuesday or Thursday or whatever day to give her some time alone. Etc
posted by JoannaC at 1:28 PM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hello everyone, thank you for your responses.
-The lease says nothing about how many people are to live here. Personally, I wouldn't mind if someone's boyfriend moved in. It happened when I was renting in another country and I was fine about it, but I feel like she wouldn't be pleased with it which is why I'm willing to reduce her rent until June.
We both have double bedrooms and a large living room, so it wouldn't be crammed with an additional person.
-She pays a monthly rent that includes bills, which I based from calculating how much I spent on bills last year when I was living with someone else in this flat. But she uses gas all day when she is home, and she's home every day from 5 pm, so bills have been super high for me. I tried to talk to her about this but she still puts the heating on when she gets home.
posted by akita at 1:29 PM on April 12, 2016

Just tell the estate agents that your plans fell through.

For the flatmate: It's an imposition, but it's for a month, your flatmate is already planning on moving out, and you own the place. I don't think it needs to be a major emotional ordeal. I would definitely let her out of the lease without penalty if she finds something earlier than June.
posted by lazuli at 1:35 PM on April 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

I disagree with everyone who says you should heavily discount her rent, especially if she is using more than her fair share of utilities. I would let her break the lease if she doesn't like sharing with a third, but otherwise, I would explain the situation, and move on like nothing is different.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 1:48 PM on April 12, 2016 [4 favorites]

Don't worry about estate agents at all. That is the cost of doing business. They have deals fall thru all the time.

To be fair to your flatmate, most people do come home at 5pm and want heat on if it is cold. Probably should not calculate bills in future with assumption that flatmate will not use heat when they are home.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:53 PM on April 12, 2016 [25 favorites]

For the estate agents, being vague and concise is probably best. "Our plans have changed due to some unexpected circumstances, so for now we won't be leasing it out. I greatly appreciate all you've done and apologize for this shift in direction. I'll be back in touch once we are interested in renting it out again."
posted by slidell at 1:56 PM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I disagree with those who say having your boyfriend move in is unfair to your flatmate. It's only for one month, and you do own the flat. It sounds like she's already paying lower than market rent and using more utilities than budgeted for, so I personally would not lower her rent unless she complains. Usually I would say utilities should be now split 3 ways, but it sounds like utilities are already included in her rent, so I don't know that this is necessary. Basically - if you want to lower her rent to avoid a fight, feel free, but I don't think it's a huge deal especially considering that this is only for ONE month. That said, if your flatmate would like to move out early, I would let her do that without any penalty.

I do think your boyfriend should be extra considerate about things like bathroom usage (making sure to plan showers so she can keep her current shower schedule, for example) and usage of other common spaces -- again, it is only for a month, so it's not a big deal to do this kindness to your flatmate.
posted by rainbowbrite at 2:05 PM on April 12, 2016 [5 favorites]

You are totally lucky! Imagine what a disaster this would be if you had moved in with your boyfriend and rented out your flat!

Call the estate agents and tell them that you're not going to be leasing it after all, thank them for their time. That's all that's required. It happens.

See if your boyfriend can negotiate through May where he is, or perhaps he can sublet for a month. If that's not feasible, I'd just split the rent three ways between you all, and give your current flat-mate a discount.

I'd give her an option. "Carlotta, my plans to move in with Simon fell through, and he needs to move with me. I'm not sure how comfortable you'll be and I want to accommodate you as best as we can, given the circumstances. We can split the rent and utilities three ways through your end date in June, or I'll be happy to let you out of your lease early anytime before your end date in June. I'm so sorry to put you in this position, as you know I had been looking forward to living in a different part of town, but sometimes circumstances screw us over."

Honestly, you're giving her an option, and she can take it from there. Do be considerate while you're all rooming together. No PDA in common rooms, no loud sex, etc.

But, if there's any other way to get your BF to be someplace else while she stays out the lease, that's the best option.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:06 PM on April 12, 2016 [5 favorites]

You don't mention whether your boyfriend has discussed the situation with his landlord or asked for more flexibility. Most people would find it a unreasonable hardship to move out with 2 weeks notice if there was an expected arrangement, formal or not. In some areas, this would not even be legal.

If he has a good relationship with his landlord, they might be willing to delay their move-in date by a few weeks or even the full month if he calmly explains that he is surprised by the request and will have trouble moving in time (much depends on what exactly you mean by "it was always known" that the contract would renew....a clear verbal agreement? a vague discussion with nothing confirmed? nothing but wildly optimistic assumptions?).

Even if they can't delay their move-in, they may be willing to compensate him for e.g. a month's rent to make up for the inconvenience, particularly if he's been a model tenant and he asks nicely but makes it clear that breaking their previous agreement (if there was one) is a big hassle for him. Then he can go stay somewhere else for a month, or pass on the month's rent to your roommate as compensation for her inconvenience.
posted by randomnity at 2:08 PM on April 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Can you afford to keep the agent and have your boyfriend go through them on a month to month basis? Because, if you move him in without some sort of exit plan, you could end up living with an ex-boyfriend who refuses to move on. Also, it could be awkward for you to collect rent from your boyfriend. Like, super awkward.

As far as the roommate goes, you need to give her the option to either move out sooner or wait until she moves out before he moves in. You can store his stuff in your area while he couch surfs if you like but, he is a big boy and he should be able to find housing without your help. If not, then you should assume that he is not someone that you want to link yourself with financially in any way. I say this from experience. A man who cannot figure out his own basic necessities is not a man that you can depend on in any way.
posted by myselfasme at 2:16 PM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Your flatmate was already planning to move out in June -- you aren't changing her living situation forever.

I would just tell her the facts.
Hey flatmate -- things have totally gone tits up. My boyfriend is losing his place in a couple of weeks, so I can't move in with him anymore, AND he needs a place to stay for May. I've decided that he should stay here. I know it's not the deal you signed up for, so I'm hoping you'll be ok with it in exchange for a 15ish% discount on your rent. Plus, the good news is that since I'm staying, you can stay here for an extra [couple months] if that makes things easy for you. If you wanted to move out early, that would be fine with me too.
Be willing to negotiate with her on the rent discount, but make it clear that BF moving in at the end of April is non-negotiable.

Let the estate agents know quickly that you don't need their services anymore after all.
posted by sparklemotion at 3:13 PM on April 12, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'm as annoyed as the next person about roommates with omnipresent SOs, but I really don't think you have to bend over backwards with discounted rent, extended lease options, and effusive apologies in this situation. One month is not that big of a deal in a spacious apartment if your boyfriend is quiet, considerate, and leaves the place often. The only deal I would offer is for her to break her lease early if she finds another living situation before June.
posted by JenMarie at 3:48 PM on April 12, 2016 [5 favorites]

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