Ask E. Jean - Tormented? Driven Witless? Whipsawed by confusion?

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My roommate is on my last nerve and nothing I do works. Bills are in my name because I can't trust him to pay anything on time, so I'm always covering everything and chasing him around for money. He's also slovenly and is only now starting to do things like his own dishes (we've lived together since 7/2015). I know I've enabled him but my back is against the wall: I'm locked into a joint lease and I need my bills paid too.

I'm at my wits end, to the point I have to tell myself not to cut off my nose to spite my face. I'm basically taking care of a man older than me and I'm hard pressed as to how to stop without fucking myself over.


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  • give Luciferia advice
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    Is he deliberately trying to get out of payments and responsibilities, or is he just the sort of dude who lets things slide to a ridiculous point?

    The end result is the same, but dealing with the two situations can be different.

    If it's deliberate, the only solution is essentially getting him (or yourself) out of there as speedily as possible. Be prepared that you will not get back money that you are owed -- it's still worth it to get him out of your life.

    Seriously. The short-term financial misery is *more* than worth the long-term positive effect of not having your every financial move undermined by a parasitic grifter.

    If it's more of a lazy/privileged/"relax, it'll work out" sort of bro-dude situation? Well, that's also crappy. And there's no way to deal with it without some pain and sacrifice. But at least you can cut out cold turkey any bills that are mostly his. The ice cream that only he eats? The cable channels mostly he watches? Anything along those lines? Gone, gone, gone.

    Sadly, there's no way around it ... you may have to make yourself unpleasant when rent is due, or other bills are awaiting payment. About all you can do here is play up your appreciative side when he *does* come through -- it may feel phony and forced, but some people still respond well to transparently imaginary praise. (I believe your country currently has a president modelling this sort of behaviour?)

    After that? Well, how long's the joint lease? And how much slovenliness can you put up with? Unfortunately, he's not going to change ... which means you're going to have to pick your battles, and accept that you won't even win all of those.

    In the meantime, keep an eye out for new roommates and new living situations. A lease isn't an *impossible* thing to break!

    reply to Kal
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    I agree with Kal as always above. And yes, how much longer is the lease? I don't think this guy is going to change. I think even if you were to start reallyyyy pushing him and making things less comfortable, maybe he'd change for a tiny bit, but then most likely he'd slide right back into the same behavior he's been consistently showing you.

    During my real estate classes and just from general experience so far as an agent dealing with many apartment/ leases/ renter scenarios, as Kal said, a lease is NOT an impossible thing to break. If I could encourage one thing, it would be to at least talk to your landlord.

    Landlords are fully aware what they are getting into, and of the endless messy situations that come about when people are living together. Some landlords are perfectly willing to remove a tenant from the lease, so it Does Not Hurt To Ask.

    If you decide to go that route, contact your landlord and set up a formal meeting, face to face. When you meet with them have a documented incident report of times/ scenarios/ examples when your roommate hasn't upheld their responsibilities, and/ or just been a giant pain in the ass. Also valid.

    Then just have a blunt and honest conversation with them. Tell them exactly what you posted here and that you are coming to them because you need their help, and are willing to work with them. See what they say, and what options they present you. Every state has different laws, and every landlord is different but it's worth a shot. Trust me they've dealt with this before.

    Some landlords won't budge and do not care, but honestly I've found that rare. It's in their best interest as well to have upholding tenants. If you come to them seriously, most are willing to do SOMETHING. Or at the very least, give you some really good suggestions.

    The situations I've seen so far in my experience where the landlords won't budge are in the larger mega apartment complexes. If you're in a multi- family, duplex, or a smaller building of units, you have a good shot of appealing to them.

    You may not choose to go that route. But it's worth your sanity, and financials.

    You may find that just telling your roommate you want him to move is enough to make him uncomfortable and leave willingly. Here's to hoping. If he's as much of a lemon as I'm understanding, I think you'll eventually have to get your landlord involved and on your side either way.

    Give us updates!!! :)

    reply to Barbara
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