What is the most decorous way for me to pull out of a housing situation that I've decided against?
August 13, 2006 10:33 AM   Subscribe

What is the most diplomatic way to get out of a lease agreement with future roommates I've never met?

I found a houseshare on craigslist with two strangers, and we have sent e-mails back and forth for about a week. Everything is pretty much set up for me to move in. The lease is in my hand, but unsigned. However, a much more attractive place has opened up to me (better neighborhood, cheaper rent, living with friends), and I would like to go with the new place.

I know it is not cool for me to pull out at this point, but I really feel like it would make enough of a difference to my mental well-being that it's worth being a bit of an ass.

Since I haven't signed a lease for this place, I am not legally bound. It is more a situation in which I know that I will burden them by pulling out, and I want to do it in the least jerk-like way possible. What's the most diplomatic way for me to phrase my e-mail?
posted by scarylarry to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
Apologize several times and explain that you've been offered a better deal elsewhere. They probably have other people interested as well since they posted to craigslist.
posted by beerbajay at 11:06 AM on August 13, 2006

"Here's a hundred bucks, sorry to inconvenience you"?
posted by orthogonality at 11:06 AM on August 13, 2006

Forget about paying them anything. You've done nothing that makes compensation necessary.

The most diplomatic way is to just say, "Very sorry, I've changed my mind, good luck to you all."
posted by jayder at 11:10 AM on August 13, 2006

Best answer: I had a similar situation, and my solution was to find someone to take my spot on the lease—someone I wouldn't mind living with—so that when I had to tell them I was worming out of my (oral) agreement, I could say, "but it shouldn't be much of a hassle for you guys, because I've found another guy to take my place."
posted by Hildago at 11:23 AM on August 13, 2006

The most diplomatic way is to just say, "Very sorry, I've changed my mind, good luck to you all."

Is that diplomatic? I think I would still have hard feelings about it if I was one of the two other guys. To me, that would sound like a polite way of saying "you're on your own". The fact of the matter is that he's doing something which is making life harder for other people. I guess it depends on a person's individual ethics, but to me that obliges him to do something to make it up to them.
posted by Hildago at 11:27 AM on August 13, 2006

Make up a lie about circumstances beyond your control.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:01 PM on August 13, 2006

There's no need to lie; you found a cheaper place in a better neighborhood at the last minute. End of story. I don't like "Very sorry, I've changed my mind at the last minute" because it leaves out the simple truth for no reason. But it's difficult for a reasonable person to argue with a cheaper place in a better neighborhood, or to take it personally.

If you feel like doing a good deed for their trouble, buy them a nice bottle of wine, or offer to pay them a few dollars for any delay you've caused them.
posted by mediareport at 12:42 PM on August 13, 2006

Best answer: odinsdream: In roommate searches, there often comes a time when a verbal agreement is reached, a lease hasn't yet been signed, and you start telling other folks the spot's taken. Of course, that can change, but it's not unreasonable for roommate candidates to hit it off, trust one another and start making plans. In that situation, not providing at least a basic explanation for the decision to drop out (and scarylarry has a perfectly good explanation) does strike me as a little rude.
posted by mediareport at 12:47 PM on August 13, 2006

Best answer: You might be over-thinking this a little. You have good reasons to drop out. Anyone would understand preferring to live with friends. Sure it's going to be a bit of a pain in the ass to them, but so are lots of things in life - you didn't agree to marry them!

I'd call rather than email, and I'd say something like;

"Hey, I'm really sorry about this, I know it's a pain, and I'm sorry it's so last minute, but some friends came up with a great place I really can't turn down, so I'm not going to be moving in. I'll get that lease back to you tonight, and I hope you find someone soon. Sorry again, bye!"

This is just one of those things, they'll deal.
posted by crabintheocean at 1:20 PM on August 13, 2006

Best answer: You've gotta bite the bullet and call them. Don't do this via e-mail. It just says that you don't have the balls to risk hearing their reaction.

That said, just tell them the truth, be sincerely apologetic, and get off the phone without getting into extensive discussion. You can acknowledge that if you were in their shoes, you'd be damn frustrated, but your opportunity is just too good to pass up.

If it were me, I'd find some small consolation if you were as straightforward and nice about it as possible. (Unless you did it via e-mail, in which case your kindmess wouldn't count. Seriously. Call them.)
posted by desuetude at 1:30 PM on August 13, 2006

That Freudian slip of a typo should be kindness, of course.
posted by desuetude at 1:31 PM on August 13, 2006

Hidalgo has a point about you finding someone else to move in with the guys from craigslist. Having been in the opposite side of your situation, I was quite angry having to turn people away because I thought I had someone, and then restart the search when they backed out last minute.

Just saying that they will deal with it could cause problems down the road if you run into them again. (Not that it's likely, but it's possible)

At least give the details to someone else who might need a place.
posted by cathoo at 1:37 PM on August 13, 2006

That the action of pulling out may make life "harder" for them is not really relevant

Since the poster acknowledges that pulling out will be a burden to his would-be roommates, there's really no question of relevance, I think.
posted by Hildago at 1:44 PM on August 13, 2006

Business is business. Bail out immediately, be honest, and apologize sincerely. I've been involved in every permutation of this situation (including one case where I had made a verbal agreement to rent a room, and the guy offering it rescinded the offer at the last minute). It happens a lot.
posted by adamrice at 2:10 PM on August 13, 2006

Best answer: How about the honest phone call - sorry, better place, cheaper, nicer neighbourhood, friends. But back it up with an offer to help them find a replacement (place ads, etc - not financial).
posted by handee at 2:39 PM on August 13, 2006

Best answer: Good advice above, but: Contact them with your intentions as soon as humanly possible. Yesterday would have been better. The sooner they can get pissed at you, get over it, and start on their roommate search again, the less they'll think you're a jerk.
posted by enfa at 2:52 PM on August 13, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I will call them, apologize sincerely, and offer to be of whatever assistance I can. And I'll bring over a bottle of wine once I'm actually in my city of future residence.
posted by scarylarry at 3:40 PM on August 13, 2006

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