Lease extension to an awful roommate?
February 23, 2008 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Roommatefilter: My roommate/renter has asked for an extension to her lease with only a week's notice; I don't like living with her, but don't have anyone waiting to move in, either.

I rent out the extra bedroom in my condo using a written lease based on a standard Massachusetts template. The term of the current tenant ends Feb 29. The lease allows for conversion to month-to-month at the end of the term with my consent and 30 days written notice. On Feb. 23 she asked if she could stay through the end of March. She is an international student and was originally planning to leave the country at the end of Feb, but has postponed to April to wait for an interview. We are both female and mid/late-20s; I work somewhat more than full-time, and she is completing a part-time internship.

I don't currently have anyone waiting to move in to the room, mainly because this roommate has been driving me crazy since she moved in and I was really looking forward to taking a break for some peace and quiet for a month or two. Briefly, she has no consideration for me (noise, parties, smells, not locking doors, unexpected overnight visitors; waking me up in the middle of the night because she's so drunk she needs help getting into bed without passing out) or my home and possessions (ruining pots and pans, breaking dishes, staining carpets, never cleaning up after herself or replacing or repairing damage). Most of this isn't malicious, as far as I can tell, but just careless; I can put up with it, but it's a big source of stress to spend every day wondering what's going to be broken when I come home. The rent payment is helpful, but I can certainly do without it for several months.

Am I an awful person to kick her out for not following the rules in the lease, making her move when she's only here for a month more and when I was planning to have the room empty? It seems mean to throw her out when she's only going to be in this city for another month; it would be difficult to find another sublet for that term. Or am I a wuss for caving and letting her stay when I was so looking forward to having the house to myself, and when she has blatantly disregarded the terms of the lease? She's the kind of person who's used to getting her way about everything, and I have a perverse urge to break that.

more details at anon.mefi.landlord@gmail, if necessary
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (34 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
She's not going to die if you decide not to extend her lease. At the worst, she'll have to stay in a motel for a month or have to stay with one of her friends from her many parties. She's not a good roommate or tenant, so let her go.

She's the kind of person who's used to getting her way about everything, and I have a perverse urge to break that.

You might actually be doing her a service, if this is truly the case.
posted by ignignokt at 12:00 PM on February 23, 2008

That's what a lease is for--setting rules in print so a roomie doesn't run amok. She's been careless and has broken your stuff and messed it up, probably because she's used to getting her way with everything, as you mentioned.

Somehow, I feel like that the one extra month would turn into two, then three... so on and so forth. She probably doesn't plan on leaving.

She didn't give you the proper notice, she's messy and careless. Personally, I'd say cut her loose, but if you really can suck it up and let her stay out the rest of the month, do so, under the written caveat that she's out by March 31st, no excuses.
posted by Verdandi at 12:00 PM on February 23, 2008

Which is worth more....a months rent or your sanity?
posted by Diskeater at 12:01 PM on February 23, 2008

Get rid of her. You owe her nothing. Her disrespect for your property shows that she feels no obligation to you, for what it's worth.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:03 PM on February 23, 2008

I was in a similar-ish position many years ago (a spoilt English cow of a woman from a very wealthy background) and I stupidly let myself become a doormat.

Saying no (and continuing to say no) was wonderful but not as wonderful as the peace and quiet when she finally left (with a number of my possessions but that's another story).

She won't be homeless - stick to your guns and enjoy your home.
posted by ceri richard at 12:05 PM on February 23, 2008

I'm a cold-hearted evil person, but I'd say tell her you have other plans for the room. That's the amazing thing about being the landlord, you have the control because you hold the risk, and this tenant already shows blatant disregard for your property, belongings, and general welfare.

If the money isn't an issue, consider it cash spent toward your peace of mind.
posted by shinynewnick at 12:14 PM on February 23, 2008

Get rid of her.
posted by limeonaire at 12:15 PM on February 23, 2008

I'll be the dissenting voice and say:

It's only a month. She's an international student; it's not like she's got an uncle down the block she can hang out with for 30 days. You're in an urban center, and 30 day sublet will, as you've said, be hard to find.

It would be kind to let her stay.

That said, I'd make it clear that:

* This is for 30 days only, no extensions.
* No overnight guests.
* No drunken wake up calls.
* You break it, you buy it.

The break from roomies will still be there in 30 days, and your karma will thank you.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:17 PM on February 23, 2008 [7 favorites]

Say, "Sure you can stay, but here's the new lease for the next month," which explicitly doesn't allow parties, overnight visitors, etc. Put the restrictions in big bold letters so she can't miss them. If she stays, she'll have to abide by them (or you'll evict her before the month is over). But she may decide it's not worth it and go somewhere else where she can rock til she drops. Either way, you haven't kicked her out on the street, yet you've firmly established what you're willing to tolerate.
posted by desjardins at 12:17 PM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't know what the laws are like in Massachusetts but if she wants to dig her heels in it may take you more than a month to evict her. That said, personally I would not renew the lease in this situation. If she broke the rules before, she'll break them this time too.
posted by grouse at 12:21 PM on February 23, 2008

International student ... I second DarlingBri
posted by jannw at 12:47 PM on February 23, 2008

I third DarlingBri, especially because you feel she's being careless, not malicious with her disrespect of your space. You'll be on your own again soon enough.
posted by sweetkid at 12:58 PM on February 23, 2008

Fourthing DarlingBri.
posted by KAS at 1:01 PM on February 23, 2008

It's only a month.

I'm often the first one to agree with this advice, but given the rest of her inconsiderate behavior, my reaction to "only a month" is yeah, right.

If you agree to let her stay one more month, I'd put money on you posting a very similar question in 30 days, except that now she'll have the added ammo of "you let me stay last time."
posted by desuetude at 1:02 PM on February 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

International student or not, she's guaranteed to find a couch for a month, or four couches for one week-each. And she's a party-going student, so she'll have a wide network of couches to choose from. Even with a new lease with restrictions, there's every indication she'll continue her behavior from before. Say you've promised the room to an out-of-town friend for the month and let her go.
posted by vincele at 1:15 PM on February 23, 2008

With regard to any new rules, are you willing to evict her if she breaks them? Because otherwise they're useless.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 1:29 PM on February 23, 2008

I don't care if she's new in town from Alpha Centauri -- if it was so very important to her to have a reliable place to stay, she wouldn't have treated it like a dump. This is not some teenager learning how to be an adult; it's an adult who is either so self-involved or out of control that she can't manage to exhibit basic courtesy and responsibility. Why would you let her continue to mess up your home, stress you out and prevent you from getting a decent night's sleep (especially when you work long hours) for one day longer than you legally must?
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:34 PM on February 23, 2008 [5 favorites]

I don't like living with her

Well, there you go then. Seriously, an individual's home should be the epitome of the place you want to feel haven't been allowed to feel that way, in your own home. I'm assuming if you wanted to put up with crap roommates, you would have continued renting on your own.

On top of that, she's treating your home and your things as if she's a 3-year old child. Karma-schmarma, she deserves to be shown the door with her behavior, and if I were you I would definitely document everything she has broken (if they are monetarily significant) and either keep the deposit or ask for reimbursement, before she leaves the country.

Finally, if you keep putting up with an individual who treats other humans (and things) this way, they will never learn anything and will continue to perpetuate this behavior towards others.
posted by Asherah at 2:05 PM on February 23, 2008

Send her on her way at the end of the lease. When she protests that it's only a month, point her in the direction of Craigslist's "sublets/temporary" section. Just pointing that out is already more than you owe her.

She agreed to the lease; you're doing nothing wrong.
posted by malapropist at 2:06 PM on February 23, 2008

I suggest either creating a new lease, with terms and conditions so stringent that she either chooses to leave of her own free will. That way, you get rid of her, and she doesn't feel like she's being kicked out.

Or you could just tell her to leave.

If she's ballsy enough to damage someone else's property, she's ballsy enough to deal with the consequences of that. Just because she pays you rent, she doesn't have the right to break your stuff.
posted by Solomon at 2:09 PM on February 23, 2008

Having been that international person, and having looked for a short term leave for a few months in Massachusetts while I was between places in travelling, I think you should let her stay another month and have a talk with her about not breaking stuff. It can be hard to find a room, and additionally, as you may have noticed, hard to fill a room for the short term. There isn't a large market.

Which is why, if you don't think she's a bad person, or irresponsible, and is renting your room in good faith, I think that's worth something. It can be a lot worse than an international student who gets drunk and occasionally breaks something. If it's not malicious, why not? The rent's a good bit of money and certainly more than the cost of some pans.

And lastly, the "not following the rules of the lease" ... is that about the 30 days notice? If so, I really don't understand. You have a room to rent, and she needs a room, so what's the drama about? There is nothing morally or legally ambiguous about renting her this room despite the lack of notice. If you don't want her there, that's fine, but just realize that you are rationalizing.
posted by cotterpin at 2:09 PM on February 23, 2008

Maybe you could find out if she has access to a friend's house or something? If not, I wouldn't feel bad about doubling the rent.
posted by lockestockbarrel at 2:34 PM on February 23, 2008

Stick to the original lease agreement - have her go. You don't need the money, and you don't need the aggravation you have endured for so long.

If you extend one more month (or more or whatever) will she be grateful to you? Will her attitude and habits change? There's my answer.
posted by seawallrunner at 2:43 PM on February 23, 2008

Have it be a negotiation.

Tell her you bought and paid for someone to come in and redecorate the room. She'll object, plead.....At this point, I'd mention how reluctant you are...given her behaviors. Tell her the only way you'd think of agreeing would be specifically about
noise, parties, smells, not locking doors, unexpected overnight visitors; waking me up in the middle of the night because she's so drunk she needs help getting into bed without passing out) or my home and possessions (ruining pots and pans, breaking dishes, staining carpets, never cleaning up after herself
. She'll agree to be perfect.

And you sigh and tell her you need to call and see what sort of arrangements you can make.

The next day, you say, you've thought it through, and you feel sorry for, you have a four week lease for her, since she's putting you out. Be very specific. No hosting, cleanliness, with a penalty if she doesn't leave on the specific day she agrees (since after all, she's putting you out.)
posted by filmgeek at 3:57 PM on February 23, 2008

Yet another vote for sticking to the original lease, I really like shinynewnick's suggestion that you simply tell her you have other plans for the room. If worse comes to worst for her, there are such things as hotel rooms, but I would think that Craigslist could come up with some other solution for her - either way, you've been tolerant for more than long enough if she's been pulling this garbage on you for a year now.

If you do decide to let her stick it out, I think you need to do whatever you can to a) make it worth your while and b) recoup the cost of the things of yours she's already broken. Bump up that rent price like crazy, man - if she accepts, then hey, more money for you, and if it turns out it's too much for her to spend then you're free of her without actually having had to give her the boot.

No matter what, you are not in the wrong here if you decide not to let her stay, do whatever feels right to you and rest easy, yeah?
posted by zeph at 4:09 PM on February 23, 2008

You are too late. If you ask her to leave and she doesn't, and you decide to evict her, the proceedings will start with giving her a 30 days notice to quit.

See Chapter 13 of the tenant rights booklet

You should definitely give her her notice now for next month's, though.
posted by gmarceau at 4:57 PM on February 23, 2008

You aren't "kicking her out" if her lease is up. She signed a lease for X number of months and could reasonably expect to have a room in your condo for X number of months, not X + 1. She is asking for a favor you do not owe her, and one which, given her actions toward you and treatment of your home, she does not deserve.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:23 PM on February 23, 2008

Having been an international student and sublet rooms before, she probably deserves the boot out the door. Anyone who acts like that is irresponsible.

That being said, you've lived with her for long enough that you seem to be able to live with her for another 30 days. I'd second the idea of drawing up another contract and make sure she knows no parties, etc, and that you expect her to pay for things she breaks (you should've tallied this up before anyways - at least the expensive stuff). Set the terms you want, since you're the one holding all the cards. If she can abide by them, she'll take it and abide by the rules. Otherwise, point her in the direction of craigslist and say goodbye.

And not to sound like a complete bastard, but she's foreign and probably doesn't know her rights. So even if she's owed 30 days and you boot her out, she may not know enough to try it. Unless she's studying law - then you might not want to try that.
posted by Jhoosier at 7:36 PM on February 23, 2008

Sometimes we must be the karma we wish to see in the world. Give the tenant a dose of the boot coming to her.
posted by stevis23 at 9:07 PM on February 23, 2008

Sounds like asking for another month without proper notice is just another way she's irresponsible. In my experience, these kinds of situations never, ever work out. Granting an extension to people like her is just providing one more reinforcement that one doesn't have to worry about being responsible for one's actions (because there's always "one more chance" you can wrangle).

People can change their behavior, but not while it's being rewarded.

So, I would 1)refuse to grant an extension, 2)grant the extension and prepare yourself for kicking her out when she will, most assuredly, break the new terms you draw up, or 3)grant the extension and suck it up when she will, most assuredly, break the new terms you draw up.
posted by Rykey at 9:23 PM on February 23, 2008

Granting an extension to people like her is just providing one more reinforcement that one doesn't have to worry about being responsible for one's actions (because there's always "one more chance" you can wrangle).

On review, sorry my use of the word "one" is so repetitive and potentially confusing :P

What I mean is:

Granting an extension to people like her is just providing another reinforcement that she doesn't have to worry about being responsible for her actions (because there's always "one more chance" she can wrangle).

posted by Rykey at 9:28 PM on February 23, 2008

I think you need to introduce her to the "good people get good deals" rule. She has not been a good person to you, and she certainly knows that, whether she's willing to admit it or not. "Sorry, I've decided to terminate the lease," does not require any further explanation or guilt. She knows why.

Furthermore, she's a supposed adult. If she has not planned for the possibility that this could happen, well, she gets what she gets. Hope her party friends have a couch.
posted by ctmf at 10:47 PM on February 23, 2008

Make her a counteroffer: She can stay for another month, but the rent will be higher. How much more you want to charge her depends on how much you are hoping that she'll think it isn't worth it and leave.
posted by happyturtle at 5:40 AM on February 24, 2008

There's nothing wrong with holding her to moving out on the same day she agreed to when the lease was signed. She'll find something. I doubt she's at any more disadvantage by being an international student than she would be if she was a student from the west coast with none of her family nearby.

If she was a wonderful person to be around and have living in your home, you would probably be happy to accommodate her for another month or two or three. It's a natural consequence of her actions that you aren't willing to put yourself out for her. Don't let yourself be a doormat for people who don't treat you with respect, who can't take care of your shared living area. If she can't lock the door, and has people who are strangers to you over that you are not comfortable with having in your space, especially if she's doing this when she's to drunk to get into her own bed, I don't think you need to open yourself up to the consequences of that. You're not being a wuss.
posted by yohko at 2:50 PM on February 24, 2008

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