It's called couch-surfing, not couch-living-on-forever-and-ever
March 8, 2006 3:05 PM   Subscribe

Help me get my recently-evicted friend off my couch and back on his feet.

A close friend recently moved onto my couch after being evicted from his Minneapolis apartment. He's been at my place for two weeks, and he's genuinely not a hassle for me--however, I'm concerned that my taking him in perpetuates a major problem with denial.

He's awful with money--he makes a fair bit, but he overspends and can't budget. There's a lot of ostrich-in-the-sand behavior, which is what led to the eviction. (He's been out drinking every night; alcohol abuse is probably a factor here, but let's address the immediate problem.) He isn't telling me the whole story, partly out of shame and partly because he's in denial that things really are very bad for him. I've been gentle so far (pretending I don't know that one isn't just evicted overnight; I know he's missed at least two months' payments, but I've been letting him tell me it's a big misunderstanding). He can move in with his grandmother, but it's not a fun prospect for him. I'm hoping to help him get into a place--and out of mine, soon.

He has no plan to speak of for moving forward, and it's time for me to step in with some answers and tough love. I need to know the following to help him:

1. How should he go about getting his things out of the old apartment? He's currently locked out by the sheriff's department and telling me that the management company is no help.

2. How should he go about finding a new place to rent? This is on his record, but there must be options.

3. Are there resources for evicted renters that might be able to help him?

4. Any ideas on how to iniate this conversation?

Thanks in advance.
posted by hamster to Grab Bag (13 answers total)
City/state, job situation?
posted by Gator at 3:15 PM on March 8, 2006

I think the intitiation of the conversation begins with something the lines of "Dude. It's time to talk about it. You can't live on my couch and drink your face off in shame every night for the rest of your life."

The problem is that if the drinking is that much of a problem, he's not going to do a better job next time. How much does he want to change?

Does your local tenants' rights organization have seminars on household budgeting? He's got to get the finances under control before he tries to convince someone to take a chance on renting to him.

What's the un-fun-ness of his grandmother's house? If she's going to treat him like a kid...well, he is acting like a kid.
posted by desuetude at 3:16 PM on March 8, 2006

Hamster says it's in Minneapolis and that the guy makes "a fair bit" of money.
posted by Airhen at 3:23 PM on March 8, 2006

The drinking is an issue. If he's drinking all his money away, then he can't afford a new apartment. Unfortunately, I doubt you can make much of a difference. But, I'm a defeatist.
posted by cellphone at 3:30 PM on March 8, 2006

whatever your local legal aid organization is, it will have a landlord-tenant division. you can usually find them by searching for "legal aid" in the phone book or on the internet. many law schools have a landlord-tenant clinic as well. they will offer all sorts of services, advice and information about being evicted and what to do about it. the city itself might even have a landlord-tenant legal clinic.

according to this random fact sheet on the internet after 60 days, the landlord can sell his property.

i have no idea how to talk to him about it. maybe you can just say, "hey, i've made this appointment for you at legal aid because i need you off my couch by april."
posted by crush-onastick at 3:31 PM on March 8, 2006

find him a new couch!
posted by BSummers at 3:33 PM on March 8, 2006

I found this:
Yes, it is a PDF file for battered women, but the first part deals with expungement (deleting it from your record) and how some landlords will work out a deal if you pay the rent + the filing fee.

And I hate to make the argument for this, but if he doesn't address the issues that caused this, all that you are willing to do for him is going to end up being useless when he repeats the pattern later.
posted by haplesschild at 3:54 PM on March 8, 2006

If he has money for alcohol and not for his rent then he is a full-fledged, non-functioning, crash-and-burn, nowhere-to-go-but-down alcoholic.

Accordingly, you need to treat him as such. You should forget about this question and submit another along the lines of "How can I help my alcoholic friend get help?" Look in the first few pages of your phone book, or find any of the several previous Metafilter questions on this subject...

Probably the first answer you will get is to tell him "You can't drink and stay here; you can do one or the other." He will choose to drink rather than to stay at your apartment, and that will solve your couch occupancy problem.
posted by jellicle at 5:43 PM on March 8, 2006

I've been in pretty much exactly this position, except with my 10-years-older brother, who was even harder to kick off the couch, and had no visible means of support.

The answer turned out, basically, to say something like "well, we better find someplace else for you to live" and set about doing it with him. He didn't do very much of it but it was worth the effort to get him off the couch without destroying our relationship or make him feel too much like he was being kicked out.

HOWEVER be aware of what may happen next (it did to me). My darling brother never paid any of the rent on the place I found him (and paid a deposit on). Eventually he skipped town, leaving me having used up an important favor with the landlord who rented him the place.

So the moral is, hellp him to find a place but DON'T put yourself on the line for it or use up any favors you'd rather not. He'll get the message if you just sit down with him every day on the pretext of helping him find a new place.
posted by unSane at 7:25 PM on March 8, 2006

As far as his stuff goes, here's what I recommend. Call the manager of his apartment complex. Say you're a friend, and that you understand she can't make a deal with you on his behalf (because you aren't on his lease), but that he would like his stuff and she surely wants to be able to clean out the apartment and rent it to somebody who will actually pay her. That being the case, what does he have to do to get his stuff? If she says there is nothing you can do, thank her for her honesty and ask her who can help him and how to get in touch with this person. Above all, stay polite at all times.
posted by ilsa at 9:39 PM on March 8, 2006

Grandma sounds like a good option, actually, unless she's got some severe problems of her own - more about the grandmother option? Perhaps it would be harder for him to drink a lot there?
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:17 AM on March 9, 2006

Dude. I have so been where you are right now, and you are doing the right thing by addressing this ASAP. I have no idea how to answer your questions #1 and #3 but am happy to lend my (atrocious) experience to nos. 2 and 4.

2: How to find a new place - Craigslist, Craigslist, Craigslist. Help him find somebody looking to hook up with a roommate. Minneapolis is a big town, surely there are people desperate enough. Maybe part of your friend's problem - other than, you know, the drinking and the general irresponsibility - was that he could not hack it on his own. Sharing a place would probably reduce his expenses considerably and from there he could rebuild his financial situation and rental history. It would force him to be more careful, too, since his finances and living situation would be intricately tied to, and dependent upon, the good nature of his roommate. Plan B is to move in with Grandma. Make it clear that there is no Plan C, "stay on hamster's couch indefinitely."

4: How to initiate the conversation - (a) soon, (b) firmly, and (c) without room for negotiation on his part. I can understand that this might be fraught with apprehension, because nobody really wants to tell their friend that you think they're a bum. But basically, he is - or at least he's showing signs that he's comfortable with that assignation. A template for the conversation might go something like this: "{Friend}, you know I've been happy to let you stay here the last couple of weeks, but I think you need to work on getting yourself out of this situation right away and find a place to live. I'm willing to help you get your things and make the transition to your next place as soon as possible. I feel I would be doing you no favor if I let this go on too long."

Then set a deadline for his move-out and make sure he understands you expect him to stick to it.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have summoned up the courage and done #2 and #4 myself, when I was in your shoes. Do this now before it becomes a more uncomfortable subject to broach, because the longer you wait to do it, it will become a real source of tension. Make no mistake: somebody unmotivated and careless like your friend will take full advantage of the soft landing you've given him, and unless you make it crystal clear that it is a very, very temporary situation, he'll be quite happy to take advantage of it as long as you allow it.

I wish you luck. You're being a good friend but don't be a doormat.
posted by contessa at 7:42 AM on March 9, 2006

Probably the first answer you will get is to tell him "You can't drink and stay here; you can do one or the other."
posted by jellicle

Straight to the point, full of the tough love you've got to give him, and yet makes the choice all his.
posted by iurodivii at 9:05 AM on March 9, 2006

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