Lodger, drunkenness, unsupervised kids, mess - ok to want him gone?
August 20, 2016 3:35 PM   Subscribe

Came home this evening to a right mess in the kitchen and dining room. My lodger's daughters (11yo and 9yo) had been left unsupervised in his room - they claimed not to know where he was or what time he'd be back. Surprise, surprise, he was in the pub. His response was underwhelming to say the least. Avalanche of rantings...

Background: "Larry the lodger" moved in at the beginning of June. We signed a lodger contract with the usual stipulations about mess, etc, and at the time discussed the fact that he has his kids to stay with him for a week a couple of times a year.

Sober, Larry is a decent guy and, whilst we're not best friends, he's interesting, shares my politics and is fine to chat to on occasion whilst I make dinner for myself. He's quiet, generally cleans up after himself and on the occasion I have had to point out a food stuff mess, he's been apologetic and right on it. Please note: I am not a neat freak.

Larry gave me notice a couple of weeks ago that he was going to invite his daughters to stay, and we agreed that they'd have his room and he would sleep on the sofa bed in the living room. He'd have to put the room back to normal in the daytime, but otherwise all good.

Daughters arrive last weekend and a different Larry emerges. One who accumulates seven empty bottles of wine in the living room. One who I encounter on various 'pops' down the road. (There are two pubs on this street alone, and plenty more within a five-minute walk.) He does his duty by his daughters in the daytime, taking them out and making sure they eat properly, etc, but in the evening they seem to be farmed out to a DVD or computer games while he drinks and watches Netflix on the sofa (my sofa!) downstairs (not that the kids seem that upset about it.)

TONIGHT: I get home about 7pm. The kitchen and dining room are a state: plates of leftover food abandoned on the dining table, all the cooking paraphernalia everywhere, empty containers on the side, stuff all over the hob and surfaces. To make matters worse, I cleaned the kitchen this morning.

I hang around, having a cup of tea, thinking he's probably been distracted by the kids as it's their last night together and will be down soon to resolve the chaos so I can cook my food. When no one appears, I go up to his room and knock the door. Through the door, one of his daughters informs me that, no, Daddy is not there. No, they don't know where he is. No, they don't know what time he'll be back.

Huh. I text him: "Larry, where are you? The kitchen was a complete state when I got back and the girls say they don't know where you are. I'm not comfortable with the girls being here this evening by themselves as if anything were to happen then it would be on me to fix it."

He texts: "I'm up the road... the girls are fine. They have my number and I've checked in with them. They know I'm only ever 5 minutes away tops. sorry the kitchen is a mess... will sort it soon. X"

I text: "Talk about this later, but this is definitely not cool"

That exchange was at 8:20pm. At just before 9pm, I hear the front door go upstairs and footsteps coming down into the basement kitchen. I look up, preparing myself, and see A TOTAL STRANGER. This random, rough-looking dude comes down into the kitchen, saying how it was all his fault and he dragged Larry away and how he's come back to clean up. He holds out his hand, introducing himself as "Bob" and I get this massive gust of booze stink off him. I am frozen as he staggers over to the table and picking up an empty can, asks me where the bin is. I tell him that I don't want him to clear up. He insists and again asks where the bin is. I tell him that I'd like him to go, and whilst I'm sure it's very kind of him to offer to help, it's for Larry to clear the mess. He says that he wants to help. I say that I'm very angry with Larry and I need to sort it out with him, so thanks for the offer but please just go. He finally gets the hint and leaves, mumbling about how he's got stuck in the middle of something. I have seen nothing of Larry this whole time, so I assume he went up to see his kids after letting Bob the cleaner into my house.

Eventually, about ten minutes later, Larry ambles down the stairs to the kitchen. He says hi. I strangle out a hi. He says, "How are you?" with what I can only describe as a smirk.

I say, "I'm really angry with you, in fact, so angry that we'd better speak about this tomorrow."

Larry: "Yes, let's talk tomorrow, when you're less..." He trails off. Ooooh. I'm so angry now. Less what? Worked up? EMOTIONAL?

I can't remember what I said at this point, but my general gist was that he should never have put me and his kids in the situation where by default I would have been responsible for them if anything happened WITHOUT LETTING ME KNOW FIRST. I mean, they're your kids, your parenting style, fine whatever. But tell me your arrangements, so I know which pub you'll be at, what time you'll be home, whether the kids have access to food and drink, alternative contact details for an emergency, etc.

I'm not proud of the fact that I pointed out that as his kids are due to go home tomorrow, he just had to wait ONE MORE NIGHT and then he could skip to the pub carefree and get as shitfaced as he liked.

He came back: "You were the one that said I should give the girls more independence." (We'd chatted earlier in the week and I'd suggested he take them to a place where he could wait in a cafe and they could perhaps go and look in the shops by themselves. I did not suggest he go for a drinking session leaving them alone in my house without my knowledge.)

I told him I thought the situation he'd put me in was unacceptable and asked him whether he felt I was due an apology and he just shrugged and said we'd talk tomorrow. All this time he was banging around and dropping stuff because he was trying to tidy up whilst drunk.

I took my dinner up to my room to eat, because I didn't want to be around him any more. Phoned several people to check whether I was being unreasonable or not, as I'm not very good at knowing when anger is appropriate, coming from a family where it was very much 'not-the-done-thing' to express anger.

The thing that gets me, beyond the mess and the kids, is Bob's sudden and dramatic entrance and the fact that I had to chuck him out. I've never had to throw anyone out of my house before. How can I trust this guy in my house if he's just gonna invite random drunk people back from the pub and give them the run of the house?

TL;DR - I think I want to give my lodger his legal 30-day notice tomorrow due to his drunken actions making me feel uncomfortable, but that's going to be horrible. Please can anyone offer advice as to how to have that conversation, how to survive the notice period and, potentially, if you think I'd be overreacting - given the above? Thanks in advance.
posted by doornoise to Human Relations (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You are not overreacting.
posted by aetg at 3:43 PM on August 20, 2016 [57 favorites]

Best answer: You are not over-reacting. Give him written notice to vacate because his behaviour has made you unsafe in your own home. Sending drunk men you don't know to your house without your permission is definitely not okay. I'm also concerned about the way he dismissed your views on the whole thing--he's speaking to you as though you are something other than his landlord (and it still wouldn't be acceptable even if that were the case).

This kind of behaviour only gets worse over time, not better, so end this situation before it has a chance to get truly nasty.
posted by rpfields at 3:58 PM on August 20, 2016 [28 favorites]

What the hell? Any one of these would be enough to terminate the arrangement, but the Bob thing clinches it hard. Of course your anger is reasonable. Of course he can't leave little girls in your house alone unsupervised. OF COURSE HE CAN'T LET STRANGE DRUNK MEN IN. Get him out of there.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:09 PM on August 20, 2016 [17 favorites]

Best answer: Absolutely give him 30 days notice tomorrow both verbally and in writing and do not budge on it one bit. Let him know that he violated the terms of your contract and that you can not and will not give him another chance. Don't give a reason. Lock up all your valuable, remove anything personal from shared living spaces, and document anything he does from here on out until he leaves in a month that makes you uncomfortable or scared.
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:11 PM on August 20, 2016 [13 favorites]

You're not overreacting. I'm so sorry you have to put up with this. You're absolutely Justified and getting rid of this guy.

If he tries to talk to you around, stick to your guns and keep telling him that his behavior and attitude was unacceptable and you're not comfortable having him in your home.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:38 PM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all. Appreciate your support and validation.

Sorry, not threadsitting and YANAL. But does the below sound OK in terms of serving notice to quit? Luckily I made him sign a standard UK lodger contract, so the terms for ending the contract are watertight... Wondering about the line referencing no visitors?

"As per our written agreement I am giving you 4 weeks’ notice to move out. Your notice starts today so will expire on 18th September and you should have returned the room to its previous state, returned the keys and left with all your belongings by that date. This is non-negotiable.

"After the girls leave, please note that visitors will not be permitted. I would appreciate it if you could make alternative living arrangements as soon as possible.

"Rent will still be due on 1st September, if you remain in the house that long. But once you have moved out you will be refunded in full for all unused days. Your deposit will be refunded within 14 days subject to any deductions as specified in the contract."
posted by doornoise at 4:44 PM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Also, does anyone have any additional advice as to how to manage the notice period? I'm dreading it from an emotional point of view and any tips would be fantastic.
posted by doornoise at 4:57 PM on August 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: What are the odds Larry is basically the same when his kids aren't here, and the only reason you're seeing it now is because he's spreading it over a wider area during the week he sleeps on the sofa?
posted by tel3path at 5:10 PM on August 20, 2016 [7 favorites]

He's living in your house with you? Maybe talk to him in person before giving him this legal notice. I'm not 100% clear on UK etiquette or social expectations, and I realize that this is a business transaction and that you don't even want to be this guy's friend, and that being 100% clear is important. However, the wording seems a little hostile, and I'd try to keep things on a civilized basis, especially since he's _in your house_.

I'm really sorry to say that. I know you're really angry, and I would be too. I'd also be a bit worried about living with someone so unstable. With that in mind, I'd try to find a way to add one or two words that didn't weaken the message but also reinforced that you are both human beings with human feelings.
posted by amtho at 5:14 PM on August 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Just for information, I'll give him the notice to quit face-to-face, so we will have time to talk through the points in the letter.
posted by doornoise at 5:23 PM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

"I would appreciate it if you could make alternative living arrangements as soon as possible."

"I would appreciate" is something you say to someone who will care what you would appreciate. I'm not sure Larry will care once you give notice. You could say, "If you make new living arrangements and move out before the four weeks is up, I will adjust as follows:" then go on with "Rent will still be due on..."
posted by Dolley at 5:24 PM on August 20, 2016 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Do you have someone else who can be on call to come over quickly if he responds badly within the next four weeks? Do you have a locked door? He sounds like someone who manages life when sober, but reacts badly when drunk, so you should have plans for if/when he is drunk in the next four weeks to keep yourself both physically safe and feeling safe.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:48 PM on August 20, 2016 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Everyone above has already covered getting rid of Larry the Loser (and heck no, you are NOT overreacting!), so I'd like to add some suggestions if you'll be getting a new lodger:

• Change your locks as soon as Larry is out --- he may return the keys, but I wouldn't trust him not to have handed out copies.
• For the new lodger, a few changes/additions to your written agreement: limit of one overnight guest per week for a maximum of one night per week (and no, Saturday from Week One may NOT be combined with Sunday from Week Two); also all overnight guests must be pre-approved by you PRIOR TO EACH VISIT and must share the lodger's bedroom --- no more taking over your couch!
• No guests are permitted in the house by themselves: either your lodger is WITH their guest in your house or both are elsewhere.
posted by easily confused at 6:50 PM on August 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

Larry has the room rented for four more weeks and you do not have the legal right to ask him to stay elsewhere. You are entirely out of line about that.

Giving notice doesn't require duscussion. Don't discuss the issue unless you want problems or excuses.

"I like you well enough but this won't work out," is, like, even a bit more than you need to say. Be polite, say as little as possible.

The end.
posted by jbenben at 7:25 PM on August 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you run into the girls, ask for mom's email and let her know what happened. What if you weren't there, were asleep, etc... He's sending drunk Bob to where his tween girls are, unsupervised??? Ack.

Not sure what the deal is with the kids, but yikes. As a datapoint it is illegal in California to leave kids home alone under 13. You were there, but you didn't know so it doesn't really count.

Not overreacting, and I think largely what you're asking is really fair.
Have some large guy friends over for coffee soon.
posted by jrobin276 at 7:46 PM on August 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: it is illegal in California to leave kids home alone under 13.

This is not true.

Don't get involved in his personal life or cause more trouble for him. Just follow the standard procedures on ending his tenancy.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:54 PM on August 20, 2016 [14 favorites]

I have sent you MeMail.
posted by howfar at 7:57 PM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Your deposit will be refunded within 14 days subject to any deductions as specified in the contract."

I would specify within 14 days of what - his departure, or the end of the 30 days?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 8:17 PM on August 20, 2016

.He's sending drunk Bob to where his tween girls are, unsupervised??? Ack.

No, he isn't. The post says they arrived at the house together and the lodger went to the girls and let Bob go off to the kitchen alone.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 8:18 PM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Revised Notice to Quit letter - thanks to all who gave their suggestions. Really useful to cool down and look at this again!

"Dear Larry,

"I’ve decided that the lodger arrangement is not working for me, and so, per our written agreement, I am giving you 4 weeks’ notice to move out of XX Something Street. The notice period starts today so you will need to have moved out your stuff, returned the rooms to their previous states and handed in the keys by 5pm on Saturday 17th September.

"The rent due for September will be £XXX [(£XXX/30)*17 = XXX]. If you move out before the four weeks is up, then any additional unused days will be refunded pro rata.

"Your deposit will be refunded subject to an inspection as specified in the contract. Please email me your bank account details or a forwarding address for a cheque: xxxxx@gmail.com

"I wish you luck in finding a new place.

"Yours sincerely, etc"

I am going to get this countersigned by him also, just in case things get messy later on.
posted by doornoise at 9:17 PM on August 20, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I'd include language about the contact, similar to your first draft. He broke the lease and you have the right, on that basis, to have him leave.

During the 30 days you could have friends over more often, spend more time in your room, sleep elsewhere but check in regularly (but document the condition of your place in case he damages it), and/or spend time on yourself through meditation, day trips, massage, or whatever makes you feel good. Give yourself the things that make you feel well and supported. Plan something fun for when he's gone, too. Remind yourself that you are acting reasonably in response to someone who is being rude and who put you in danger. Get a calendar and count down the days.
posted by ramenopres at 5:28 AM on August 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is probably fine, but whenever I get a communication from one human to myself (also a human) that says "per our written agreement" or "per our communication of August 11", it makes me feel like they're trying to use word choice to seem official or businesslike -- when they could just _be_ official or businesslike by being clear and concise, which you are doing already. I have the same problem with the word "utilize". It sets off something ... eye-rolly? I know you don't care what this guy thinks, but again, human to human is what's happening here, and keeping it on those terms might be helpful.

It's fine, don't change it if you don't want to, but "as specified in" or "as our contract specifies" should be fine.

I want to suggest something about saying you understand that this will be...inconvenient for him? However, I can't figure out a way to make it really fit. Maybe that's something best kept to the conversation before you give him this official notice.
posted by amtho at 7:59 AM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: An update - I had to email him the Notice to Quit letter as he and the girls left the house for the drive back to their mother's before I was up. I sent along a calm covering note explaining that I would have preferred to give this to him in person and to ask any questions if he needed clarification.

His response to my email was pretty succinct: "Ok"

Amtho - I see your point, however he has made me feel unsafe in my own home (I bought a lock for my bedroom door today). It may seem unfair, but his inconvenience is far, far down my list of priorities and I don't want to provide him with any hope of a sympathetic ear if he tries for wiggle room on the move out date.
posted by doornoise at 10:17 AM on August 21, 2016 [5 favorites]

It doesn't seem unfair at all, at least not to me. I doubt anyone expects you to prioritize his inconvenience, either -- probably not even him.

I was more talking about a subtle "we are human beings here" subtext. The idea is to keep him feeling and acting like a human with empathy, which is many people's natural response to clear empathy when they are not angry or intoxicated (or clueless).
posted by amtho at 2:56 PM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: He is a tenant. All written documents that have to do with his tenancy are legal documents that need to have a very specific tone written into them so that the terms stated can't be exploited or circumnavigated by either side of a legal agreement. Being human and doing a stupid human thing does not dismiss his rights and responsibilities as a person -- and especially not as a tenant who made his landlord profoundly unhappy and uncomfortable after violating the terms of his tenancy. He is responsible for any inconveniences he must now endure.
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:54 PM on August 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

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