roommate issue

erika-04June 12, 2007


I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice. I decided to move in with an acquaintance to help her out financially, and we agreed that aside from the rent, I would pay the bills and she would write me a check each month. She doesn't make as much as I do and so after a while I stopped asking her for the check and would simply pay the bill. This resulted in her not paying me anything for months. I recently told her I need her help again and she wrote me a check to cover 1 month. She's now working more hours and just bought a brand new tv, so now I'm wondering what to do. Should I ask her for money from the months she never paid, or should I just forgive and forget about it? I feel like I've dug myself into a hole here because I didn't have the courage to ask her for the money at the time, and now I feel it's too late. That and she might not have the money since she just bought a tv. Yet I also feel like she should have pestered me so she could pay her half. So now I feel like I've let her walk all over me and it's too late to go back and ask her for more money. Besides which, I'm only living there for another 6 weeks and I worry that if I suddenly ask her for money it'll create problems with our relationship.


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why are you helping so much? You are subsidizing her life.

You HAVE dug yourself into a hole.

The next thing is figuring out how to get out.

And why are you worried about having problems in this friendship? You do not have any need in your life for a friend who will let you pay her basic bills while she buys a TV. That's not a friend. That's a user. Who CARES if she decides she's mad at you?

I lost a friend through being roommates. I sometimes feel bad about it, but frankly, she sure didn't care, so why should I? I'm not the one who hogged the living room, didn't pay a deposit or first month's rent, and made my roommate feel unwelcome in her own home.

You can't stay friends w/ her anyway, bcs YOU will never forget that she wouldn't pay her share of the bills. And you will never forget that you were a big wimp and didn't ask her; staying friends w/ her will just make you feel bad about yourself.

I would say, as far as whether to forgive or forget--what do you want out of this now? Do you want to feel you stuck up for yourself? Do you want to feel you really helped someone who needed it? If you don't ask for the money, will you have a sour feeling forever about this time in your life? If you ask and don't get it, will that make you feel worse? If you never asked, are you able to be philosophical? Or could you ask and still feel philosophical?

I would say, ask for the money now. Hand her a written list of what she owes you, and then also say, "I realized we've fallen behind. Here's where we are. We only have 6 weeks, so how will you take care of these bills?"

It's possible that if you ask her, she'll apologize, and pay as much as she can. it's possible that she'll be unable to pay the money but will do something else to show you how much she appreciates your help. If you never ask, she never gets the chance to redeem herself.

I'm going to point out some things you should or should not have done. it's too late--you can't go back and do them. I'm not trying to beat you up. But maybe seeing them spelled out will help you in a future situation. And maybe it'll help someone who happens along this post later.

You should't have entered into this business relationship with the mindset that you were helping her. The BUSINESS ARRANGMENT would be to her benefit, but YOU should not have been the one helping her. That might have kept you from feeling that you should sacrifice for her.

And you shouldn't have stopped asking her. True, you shoudln't have had to. But the first time she missed, you needed to have had a conversation about the idea of missing or being late, and then you should have asked her every month, like clockwork. The utility company sends a bill; you should have too.

You don't help someone by letting them get away w/ stuff like this. That's not the sort of help that's good for them. She bears all the blame here, so I don't want to imply that you screwed up somehow, but you didn't actually help the way you intended to. (That's actually an arguement for asking, even if you don't get it. It will be good for her to have pointed out exactly what she has done. It is not good for her to feel she got away with this)

Also, no one in your position should ever THINK they *need* courage to notify someone what their bills are. The utility company doesn't apologize for charging you for the electricity--why should you?

Perhaps we think we need courage bcs we're essentially saying to someone, "you are screwing up; you are about to cheat me." But if you can think of it as a bill, not a moral judgment, that might put you in the accurate and appropriate frame of mind.

Also, look at the wording you used: "I...told her I need her help again"---ummmmm, no, asking her to pay for part of the phone, utilities, etc., is not asking for HELP. It is notifying her about a bill she committed to and a bill she owes.

I say, your relationship is trashed anyway. Why not end up w/ some cash (IF you can get it) and some sense of power? As much as you can wrest from the situation. (you called her an acquaintance anyway; you're not losing a lifelong friendship)

I'm sorry this happened to you. It stinks. SHE stinks.

After you'd asked for the money, and after you move out, do try to forgive. But don't try to maintain a relationship with her, and don't let yourself try to shoulder other people's burdens so thoroughly in the future.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 2:19PM
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Or to put it another way (and that was a darn good one Sue!) how come SHE isn't writing in saying SHE feels guilty about the whole thing and asking how to approach YOU to make it right? Obviously she has no conscience, so give yours a rest. People like that take advantage of the rest of us who've been brought up to try and be 'nice', and please everyone, and never say no, but there are times when nice just doesn't cut it!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 2:46PM
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Ditto on what TalleySue said. Then, since you know you are not very forceful in exerting your rights, next time you have a roomamate, have a legal agreement drawn up so you have something that will hold up in small claims court better than a he said/she said verbal agreement.

You said that you moved into their apartment. Why are the bills in your name then? That should have been a red flag if they asked you to put them all in your name. If they are NOT in your name, don't pay the last bills that come in before you move out, and your roommate is legally liable for them - not you. That may "even" things out for you.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 5:29PM
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STOP paying the bills immediately if they weren't in your name! That's a no-brainer. If they are in your name, get them out NOW! Man, I'd be real tempted to "accidentally" pack some of her stuff with mine when I moved out, including that new TV. This woman is a USER and a LOSER.

Ditto too on everything TalleySue said.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 1:49PM
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Do NOT take the above advice and steal anything from the roommate. You could go to jail. Saying "I stole the TV because she owes me for the phone bill." will not be a valid defense in court.

The best you can hope for, is to take her to small claims court for her half of the bills. If you have your cancelled checks, and can prove it was a roommate situation and not a domestic arrangement, you may be able to recover your money. But it may not be worth it, as even if you get a judgement against her, you can't collect your money if they have none.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 5:56AM
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Bud_wi: I was NOT suggesting she steal something. I was merely saying I would be tempted to do so. I've been cheated by many people in my lifetime...there are lots of users in the world...but I have never stolen anything from anyone.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 10:17AM
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Well it certainly sounded like you were suggesting that.

Also, if the bills are in her name, she can't just call up the utilites and get them out of her name and put them in another name, while she is still living there, unless the roommate willingly has them put in their name. Once she moves out, then she can cancell her account with the utilities and the roommate can either sit in the dark and cold, without a phone or cable, or contact the companies and open accounts in their own name, (or in this case, probably find another sucker to move in and pay). Unfortuately, if Erika is too timid to ask the roommate for the money for the bills, she is going to be too timid to insist that the bills be put in the roommates name. Fortuately, she is moving soon, and can go forward with her life and chalk this up to a hard learning experience.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 3:38PM
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Here is a piece of advice for roommates sharing bills;

If the bills are in your roommates name and they do the 'bookkeeping', make sure you see the bills each month and if your roommate is handling the rent payments to the landlord make sure you see the receipts each month. Also do not write a check to the roommate but make it out to the utility company.

Don't just trust them to do things right. I was stupid once. I had a roommate once who insisted that everything be in their name and that they would handle everything. "Great" I thought. Less for me to worry about. Every month I was told what I owed, and I immediately wrote a 'lump sum' check to the roommate or gave cash. What I should have done, was write out separate checks made out to each utility company and gave them to her.

I found out that she was spending the money I gave her, on herself, and not paying the bills on time. When I moved out, I found out from the Landlord, when I wanted a reference, that there were many times we had a 'Quit or Pay' notice tacked to our door (which she took and hid from me) and we had been threatened with eviction on more than one occassion! Because of this, the landlord would not give ME a decent reference. I had had no idea the rent was not paid on time, and since the lease was co-signed, it reflected on me poorly.

Utility bills always had a late fee tacked on them (which she worked into what I owed) and payments were always behind. I never saw the bills when they came in, as she insisted on having the only key to the mailbox and kept it on her keychain instead of on a nail on the kitchen wall for both of us to access. (That should have been a clue.) When she suddenly moved out, (with four days notice to me BTW) to move in with her brand new BF, I was left to live there alone. When I went to get the bills transfered to my name I found out that they were all in arrears, and since I had been residing there, and was still living there, I was responsible for all of it, and they tacked on the former bills that were in her name to my new account. So all along she had been taking my half of the bill money and spent it on herself, only paying part of the bills occassionaly. Live and learn.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 4:25PM
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OK bud_wi you win! Congratulations. Apparently you KNOW everything and no one else knows anything.

This is the problem with message boards...people can't tell if you're joking or not. I would NEVER promote theft. Sorry you can't read between the lines, bud.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 9:47AM
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I went back and reread your post. I squinted and looked really hard between the lines. Nope. Nothing. Nothing but white space between the lines.

Send me my prize.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 12:47PM
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Bud, that's hilarious, man.

You're too nice, erica. And so am I... I would not think it a good idea to ask for back rent beyond the previous month. She gave you the current rent, cool. You can say you forgot to ask her for last month's and she'll probably give it to you in the hopes you don't "remember" that you haven't been asking her for several months. And definitely get her to pay her share till the end. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 2:54AM
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