Don't sh*t where you eat?
August 6, 2008 9:32 PM   Subscribe

RoommateConflictFilter: I'm a guy in my mid-20s living in a bachelor pad with two other similarly-aged guys. The two roommates have had a huge falling out (over a girl, naturally) on month two of a twelve-month lease, and after days of constantly talking about it, it seems like the only solution is for one of them to move out. The only thing that we've agreed on is that I'm not going anywhere. So now what? We're all on the lease, and I want to make sure that nobody gets burnt any worse than has already happened.

A bad attempt at keeping a long story short... I apologize, because I normally grumble at these kinds of posts :)

I've been friends with "Mike" for five years (college buddy), and we've lived together off-and-on in the past with no problems. Most recently we had spent a year each living with other people from our group of friends, but were both extremely excited to start living together again.

Mike met "Dan" a few months ago and they got along well enough where Mike suggested that we all move in together. He is a reasonable guy, but I don't know him that well, and would probably never have lived with him if it wasn't for Mike vouching for him. We found an amazing house that we can reasonably afford with three people, but certainly can't afford with two.

Awhile after we moved in, Mike started dating Dan's friend "Jen". Before this Dan and Jen were extremely close, with her coming over multiple times a week to hang out, eat dinner, etc. Their friendship that was describable as platonic but had enough flirting where an outsider (like myself) couldn't know for sure.

Dan seemed cool with Mike and Jen's new relationship, but was constantly asking to tag along or be included when they hang out because they were "his two best friends". They played along for awhile, but eventually got uncomfortable and said something along the lines of "hey buddy, we've got our own thing going on, you can't expect to hang out with us ALL of the time". This makes Dan sulk for awhile, but it seemed to blow over.

Until a few days ago, when the shit finally hit the fan. A generic domestic argument over a party mess resulted in a fight in which it was made clear that Mike and Jen no longer wanted to deal with Dan's influence in their relationship. Extremely harsh words were exchanged, Jen got hysterical and things almost got violent between the guys.

Days later and nothing has improved. Both parties are sure that they did nothing wrong, and won't budge. The only thing that they've agreed on is that someone needs to move out. Coincidentally, Dan is leaving tomorrow for a 10-day vacation, and we're going to figure out what needs to happen for when he gets back.

So, now what? I don't think anyone is being evil or unreasonable in all of this. I see where everyone is coming from, it's just one of those unfortunate situations. I don't mind the girl or the relationship and would really prefer to live with my friend, but it seems a bit rough to kick out the guy who claims that he tried to do a good thing and lost two friends over it. Then again, I don't know him that well, and he really seems to be in denial over everything.

What's the best way to decide on who needs to leave if nobody volunteers? What precautions do we need to take as we attempt to find a new roommate? If the landlords would go for it we may be willing to remove the person who leaves from the lease (a big if). Plus, due to how difficult it is to have these problems while the current three of us on the lease, I'm not sure I'd want to put a random Craigslist stranger on the lease in place of the person who leaves.

Any advice/anecdotes would be appreciated.
posted by adamk to Human Relations (22 answers total)
You're staying, you've got the longer history with Mike, and he hasn't done anything wrong. Whereas Dan has known you less, you wouldn't be able to vouch for the guy. He needs to be somewhat less clingy. He can't reasonably expect to be the third wheel all the time. That said, it isn't unreasonable that his friends spend time with him too. If they've tried but he was pushing the limits, that seems more of his issue.

It seems like, barring things with Jen becoming serious enough that he'd want to move in with her before your lease is up, that Mike should stay. If this 10-day reprieve doesn't allow for all parties to cool off enough so that nobody needs to or wants to move, that is.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:45 PM on August 6, 2008

this isn't your burden to bear. if no one volunteers to leave then you all live together until someone decides it's too much. if you guys got the house on three applications and three promises to pay, i can bet you won't get them to remove someone from thee lease unless the two people remaining can cover the amount that needs to be made or you find someone else to put on the lease. you can't "kick someone out" who's on the lease. they are legally allowed to be there just like you all are.
posted by nadawi at 9:48 PM on August 6, 2008

Make them race to find a replacement. Whoever loses moves out.
posted by pompomtom at 10:00 PM on August 6, 2008 [6 favorites]

The way I see it, there are a few options. None are right, and you've probably thought of them before.

First off, I think it's good to know that no matter what you'll have a place to live. Especially since you moving out won't help anything.

You could have Mike move out. From what you've presented he's the only person who has someone he could live with. I don't know about his or her feelings about this, and that is a big thing to consider.

You could have Dan move out. It was his feelings for the girl and the inability to see her with Mike that seems to have brought all of this to light. Plus you and Mike were friends before.

Those are kind of the easy ways out. I'd go with one of these next two ideas.

You could see how everyone feels at the end of Dan's vacation. Maybe some time away will cool everything off. It doesn't need to be back to an "everyone's friends" level, just an "everyone can live together" level. This would probably require some changing of behavior (ie go to the girl's place instead of having her over at the apartment), but it can work.

You could also decide that it's not really fair to force either of them out of the apartment since they don't feel they did anything wrong (and for the record I'm not sure that either did anything wrong either, but that's beside the point). Instead, each person could try to find somewhere else to live. First person to find somewhere that works moves out. Until then, y'all deal with each other the best you can. This has a big potential to turn into the idea before this one.

If all else fails, flip a coin or something to decide. It's arbitrary and there's no skill involved, so nobody has an advantage.

As for finding someone else, I agree that you shouldn't just let someone in. I haven't had to deal with landlords yet (still in the college dorms), but I've helped my girlfriend with her apartment stuff. Her landlord didn't care at all who was actually in the apartment as long as there weren't more than 3 people and the people in the apartment payed the rent. 1 roommate was let off the lease to put another one on without a problem. I've heard similar stories with other friends and apartments/houses.

When you're looking for someone don't treat it like you're replacing someone. Treat it like you're finding someone from the start.

Also, make whoever moves out pay some rent after they're gone. Maybe a few months, maybe until someone else moves in. That one is your call. The best thing would be if they payed rent until someone else moved in. After all, they did sign a contract for 12 months. And y'all signed the contract understanding that everyone would be there for 12 months.
posted by theichibun at 10:01 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Honestly, it makes the most sense for Dan to move out. You are going to stay friends with Mike even if he moves out which will lead to other likely complications down the road if Dan stays. I would split the burden by helping him with moving costs and finding a replacement. Really this should be Mike's burden to bear, but given the situation you probably need to act as an intermediary.

As for breaking it to Dan, I would just explain that it doesn't make much sense for Mike to move out given that you two have known each other forever and since this sucks for him you are going to try and doing everything you guys can to make his moving easier.

I also wouldn't discount Craigslist. I've found some great roommates on there, just be very picky and interview people thoroughly. Also, go with your gut and don't rent to anyone that you aren't sure you want to live with (i.e. don't "settle" unless desperate and even then it's my belief you'll end up paying one way or another).
posted by whoaali at 10:21 PM on August 6, 2008

With all due respect, I don't understand what is so hard about this. I guess it's hard because you sound like a really nice guy devoted to the idea of fairness and that bad things shouldn't happen to people unless they deserve it. Unfortunately, in this case, even though he didn't do anything "wrong," Dan is probably going to have to move out.

My anecdote is that once I was living with a guy in a house with someone else. He and I broke up, and I tried to move out, and my roommate basically said no way, I signed up to live with you, not him. She made me kick him out and move back in.

As I see it, what you signed up for was being roommates with your old friend. You and Mike are longterm friends. You had been looking forward to living together again. Dan is great, but he's the new guy. You really can't vouch for him. Mike is the one who brought Dan into the deal. Now they've had a falling out, so Dan falls back out of the deal. You can be very sympathetic to Dan and help him move. You can even negotiate whether he moves or the two of you move. I would just make the non-negotiable part be the fact that you are going to live with your long-time friend.
posted by salvia at 10:38 PM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

Whatever you do, do not have Jen move in. That way lies another ask.mefi.
posted by rodgerd at 10:40 PM on August 6, 2008 [6 favorites]

You'll let Mike stay because you've known him longer.

However, you'll never really trust him around a woman you're interested in romantically. If you couldn't tell if Dan and Jen were platonic, then neither could Mike. He moved in on that anyway. Bros before hos.
posted by 26.2 at 10:45 PM on August 6, 2008

It may be salvageable. Things might cool off while Dan is gone. If Mike and Jen keep things light and airy when he comes back you might pull through it. Sounds like everyone has some growing up to do around there.

PS - Glad you're not my neighbors. Get off my lawn! Rotten kids.
posted by wfrgms at 10:57 PM on August 6, 2008

If you want a life change anyway (but let's face it, who ever wants to move if they don't have to) you could all three break your lease and move out, and the two other roommates could split paying you back your portion of the deposit, out of pocket.

OR-- you could just tell them it's their problem, and if they don't want to live together than they need to find their own replacement(s.) They should take some personal responsibility for this without putting you in the middle of it.
posted by np312 at 11:11 PM on August 6, 2008

Sucks for Dan, but obviously he should be the one to go. I mean, from reading your post Dan is either totally in the wrong, or you're totally biased against him. Either way, he should be the one to leave.
posted by delmoi at 11:13 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

rodgerd is wrong. jen should move in. then we have [more inside]
posted by punkbitch at 11:19 PM on August 6, 2008

Dan gets the boot, but the two of you chip in and pay him a month's rent so he's not under pressure to find a place and find a replacement when he gets back, which should make it much more bearable for him.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:30 PM on August 6, 2008

Response by poster: I realize that a lot of suggestions are going to include "toss X out", but a lease doesn't allow me and any one other person to "vote out" the other.

It's August 6th and we just paid the rent... Maybe relocation assistance and/or a financial incentive is the way to go if we end up needing to remove someone who would otherwise be uncooperative. Compared to to the total combined rent liability for the year, a month of the tossed person's rent between the remaining two people is nothing...
posted by adamk at 11:39 PM on August 6, 2008

Between the three of you (forgetting the lease), it's always going to be Dan moving out. A vote? You and Mike against him. Who was there first? You and Mike against him. Who has a longer history? You and Mike against him.

Even if you thought letting Dan stay would be the nice thing, how would he feel every time Mike (and Jen?) came over to see you?

So, Dan goes. As for the lease, you'll need a third tenant. Yes, you risk them being equally/more ill-fitting than Dan is now. But what choice do you have? I think the generous thing to do would be to tell Dan that you'll cover his share of the rent (by having someone else move in) after he leaves. It's a hassle, sure, but better than the alternative.
posted by twirlypen at 1:35 AM on August 7, 2008

This does al turn on Dan, really, weather his feelings for Jen are a crush or more. Basically, if he was really into her and had developed a long held affection for her during their friendship, then he really is not going to enjoy living with Mike.

However, maybe Mike escalated a 'game' that Dan had been playing with himself and Dan probably felt he had a certain licensce to compete. He has now lost. No one likes losing, but the immediate burn of that subsides remarkably quickly, in comparison to genuine emotional hurt. 10 days seems more than long enough for that.

So it may still be fine, probably swings on the nature of Dan's and Mike's friendship with each other - a rather crucial detail that OP glossed over.
posted by munchbunch at 2:23 AM on August 7, 2008

Who assaulted who, initially? That's the guy I would want moving out.
posted by Coventry at 4:15 AM on August 7, 2008

I'd start by seeing what Dan's intent is. From there you can see if he'd be interested in moving out.

I recently switched roommates on a lease and my agency had no problem with it since they were getting their money regardless. There was a minor issue with the security deposit, basically I payed my old roommate his portion so the whole thing is now mine.

The simple solution would be to sit everyone down and work it out. As long as everyone comes in with an open mind, it should still be a salvageable situation.

Or use the next few days to find Dan a girl so the problem could fix itself.

And in response to comments about not noticing if it was platonic or not, it should be made clear to all roommates what the specific intent of one roommate is. Whenever I go out with my roommate, even to a bar, we make sure that we have separate "targets" for our affections and we let the other know our intent so there is no cross fire.
posted by thebreaks at 5:49 AM on August 7, 2008

You've all agreed that someone needs to move out. Therefore, there are only three ways this can happen:

1) Dan agrees to move out. He does. You and Mike get a new room mate.
2) Mike agrees to move out. He does. You and Dan get a new room mate.
3) Both Dan and Mike refuse to move out. You continue to all live together for the next 10 months.

#3 is the hardest to deal with but may be what happens. You're all on the lease, you're all entitled to stay. If that's what ends up happening, you work out some rules and a rota to minimise the communication needed and you all grow up and get on with it.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:11 AM on August 7, 2008

Dan's gotta go.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:16 PM on August 7, 2008

First off, this isn't your problem. They're adults and should be able to figure this out without you having to be involved.

Second, these guys have only been friends a few months and you guys have only lived together two months. Mike and Jen have only been dating for a little over a month? It sounds like all of this is being blown way out of proportion.

That said, if this doesn't just blow over, you're going to kick Dan out. I'm not saying it's right or fair, but let's be realistic here. If you kicked Mike out, you'd probably lose Mike and Jen as friends and spend your whole time resenting Dan.
posted by atomly at 4:44 PM on August 7, 2008

a lease doesn't allow me and any one other person to "vote out" the other

Oh, I get it, you don't think he'll agree to leave? Ick. But whatever. Let Mike deal with all the ugly interpersonal stuff. Dan's his friend.

About the lease, landlords are all different, as are lease contracts and city and state housing laws. But I've subbed in a replacement tenant on a lease before, no problem.
posted by salvia at 11:33 PM on August 7, 2008

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