I love you but leave: evicting a good roommate

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the greatest roommate

Catintheattic has a situation:

I’m a grad student, and I currently live in a flat with another grad student, who’s been living here over a year. We didn’t know each other before she moved in, but she’s been great and we’re now good friends. She’s having a bit of a tough time at the moment, because she’s trying to finish her course so she can go travelling, and she’s not sure when she’ll be done.

The problem is, my boyfriend (who is abroad at the moment — long story) will be coming back into the country in a few months and would really like to move in with me. I’m trying to find a supportive, non-pressuring way to ask my flatmate if she can commit to moving out on a particular date so he can move in.

This isn’t a legal issue (the flat is in my name, and I can give her 30 days’ notice any time, though I’d like to give her more time than that), but a moral/friendshippy one: how do I ask her to move out in a nice way? All the advice I can find online is “how to deal with a nightmare roommate,” but that’s just not the situation here!

Ever had to kick out a roommate you were on good terms with? How’d you made it go down smooth?

Comments on I love you but leave: evicting a good roommate

  1. I think the Friends episode where Monica asks Rachael to move out so that Chandler could move in works for your situation. 🙂 I know it’s a TV show, but maybe you can take some tips from them.

  2. I’d approach her not with an answer (I need you to move out) but with a question (our lives are both changing; how can we use the apartment to meet our needs?). Maybe together you can find a good solution. I know your name is on the lease, but are you open to being the one to move out? If that is at all a possibility worth considering, try to keep an open mind about it. Or if she just needs a bit more time before heading on her travels, ask how you can help make it less stressful for her. Can you help her find a temporary place to live, help move her belongings (or store them while she’s gone), pick up extra work around the home so she has more time to focus on school? Be as open as you can to her suggestions and needs. Like you said, you want to be her friend, not her landlord. Good luck!

  3. I think I’d try to have to boyfriend find something temporary and wait until she “goes travelling”…but let her know “You know, So & So is probably going to move in when you leave, and he’s trying to find a temporary place for now, but he sooorta needs to have an idea of when you’ll be taking off so that he can find a place that meets his needs. I don’t want to rush you out, but if you could give us an approximate date so that he can find a place that will be available up until that date, that’d be good.”

  4. I was once the good roommate who was asked to leave! (long story short: sister needed a place to live).

    Here’s the key: you’re good friends. That’s a great foundation for an honest chat – you probably already know what to say to encourage her, what are her triggers, etc. Also, the fact that you’re trying to be friend first, landlord second says a lot about you as a friend.

  5. I kicked out a semi-good room mate who I had been friends with since Junior High, same situation where my name was the only one on the lease. I simply built up my courage for about 2 months, took her out to her favorite restaurant and told her straight out what the issue was, and that I would help her find a new place if she needed me to. Apparently I was so nervous that she thought I was going to tell her I was pregnant! But she understood, and I gave her 4 months, which was ample time for her to find a new arrangement.

    People told me I shouldn’t give her that much time because she’d move out earlier and I’d be out the extra rent, but I didn’t think it was right to not tell her about the inevitable and give her less time to find an ideal solution.

  6. A roommate who I was (repeat WAS) good friends with blind sided me and asked me to move out when our lease was officially up so that her boyfriend could move in (in our case both of our names were on the lease). I had absolutely no desire to move and loved the apartment, so I told her that I’d be more than happy to share the apartment with her and her boyfriend. Needless to say, she was not happy with that answer and made my life a living hell until she moved out. Point being, please be prepared for your roommate to maybe not give you the exact answer you are looking for. At least you know that she has intentions of leaving, therefore it wouldn’t be odd to ask her when she may be leaving. Because you will need to fill her room/space with a new renter when she does decide to leave, I see it perfectly reasonable for her to have to give you a 2 month minimum heads up on when she is leaving.

  7. Just wondering, why does she have to leave so he can stay? I mean I sat my roomie down one day and told her that she could move out if she wanted but it would be a lot easier if we could all live together. The rent would be split three ways, and he was going to share my room.I mean if she isn’t a nightmare then why make her leave?

    • I really think this is the best solution, especially as it was mentioned that the writer’s roommate is scrambling to finish her degree. If my roommate had told me in grad school that she wanted me to move out while I was in the midst of trying frantically to graduate so her boyfriend could move in, I know I would have all but had a nervous breakdown. Depending on how long the overlap would be, it probably would be less stressful for all involved if she stayed while she finished her program, and since she isn’t a nightmare now, it stands to reason that she’s going to not dedicate the extra resources away from her work in order to make the writer’s life miserable.

  8. I actually was in this situation with 2 roommates when my fiance moved in, and it turns out they were as ready to leave as I was and didn’t want to hurt my feelings! I would just explain the situation rationally, because maybe your roommate is ready for a change, too. No matter what, good luck! This can be a sticky situation, or at least feel like one. Sending good vibes your way!

  9. I actually had a nightmare roommate who thought we were on good terms (despite blood/hair dye/vomit being left to stain fridges/doors/floors and me making a point of making her clean it up) and when my partner wanted to move in, I simply told her what was up and gave her 3 month’s notice (law in Aus.) and she was perfectly happy and gave me a huge hug and told me how happy she was for me. Telling the truth about it actually made the situation a lot better rather than worse…

  10. My suggestion, don’t put it off because she’ll pick up on it anyway and telling her what your thinking rather than having her guess (is she mad at me?) is best. Try to be as flexible as you can to accommodate her needs like staying all three of you for awhile or giving her the apt and you leaving, but don’t compromise what you need and want. Living together and resenting the situation is not good for anyone.

  11. I’m the original question-writer, and I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for taking the time to give all this supportive advice, it is very much appreciated! Obviously some things you’ve said are more easily applicable to my situation than others, but all of this is taken on board.

    Special thanks to the people who shared their experience of a similar situation, that has been really really helpful.

    Without telling a long boring story: she and I have talked, she was quite upset. I think things are more or less ok now – I’ll certainly be implementing some of the things you’ve suggested to try to make things easier. I also need to try to get over my fear of upsetting people a bit…

    I should also say, it made my day yesterday to get an email from Cat Rocketship. It was like getting a personal email from a celebrity, I was so geekily excited. 🙂

    Thanks homies. x

  12. Having had many roommate situations and seen many demise, I will say this: It is worth discussing with yourself whether you really need to rush into a live-in situation with this guy. Regardless of how long you have been together, there is a fundamental issue at hand. This roommate is your friend, and you have had an great time together. She has shown responsibility and has respected your boundaries. She is, then, a part of your life.
    Why would you want to share your home with a partner, when you obviously feel that you can only share some parts of your life with him? Note that you have made the decision that awesome flatmate is not one of the parts you will be sharing with him. Whether this stems from relationship insecurity, or an deep need for privacy by both of you, it does not seem fair to oust a responsible member of the home in favor of a relationship option.
    Beyond the emotional mess that may ensue if you lose the friendship, what happens if the relationship fizzles after he moves in? At that point, you are on the hook for all of the rent yourself, & you don’t have the roomie to share your sadness with.
    I sincerely hope that you find a resolution that works for all of you, but she had every right to be upset. Remember, though, that you have every right to not be so worried about upsetting people with honesty- but only when you are certain that you aren’t operating with a selfish motive. Sometimes that inner fear of upsetting others is anxiety over nothing, but sometimes it is that little voice asking if this is really for the best of everyone.
    Edited to note that none of this is said to judge you- I honestly want everyone to be happy, and that means taking whatever road works for you. I just want to be the voice for the other side of the issue, just to make sure that you give thought to all possibilities for you and your growing household. Whatever works for you, do it, just make sure you don’t lose a friend over it. There are ways to work any situation so that everyone gets a good outcome.

  13. i was in this situation. my boyfriend lived across the country with his young daughter, and i lived with my gay best friend in a two bedroom apartment. my boyfriend and i were struggling how to tell him that we wanted him to move out for about a month, but we had no specific time constraint on when it would actually happen. then out of the blue my roommate told me he found a room that was a great deal and muchhhh closer to his work (he now walks to work vs. taking a train every day) and would i mind if he gave his 30 days notice? it worked out perfectly.

  14. Heh. My partner and I had a roommate cause a huge scene of drama to inform us she was moving out–which she had already been informed of 3 months prior. It was very anti-climactic for everyone. But that was totally a nightmare roommate.

    We had a couch surfer at the time who wasn’t a terrible roommate, or a terrible person, just a terrible match. She turned INTO a terrible person when we informed her she would not be taking over the bedroom and paying rent, but rather she couldn’t sleep on the couch anymore either. OMG the passive-aggressive BS that ensued over the next month was ridiculous, and every time it just reinforced the gut instinct we all followed saying “RED FLAG!”

    I’m sorry your friend was upset when you talked to her about it. Certainly, she has every right to be upset when her world as she knows it is jostled without warning (as my therapist said when the girl above didn’t take her 30 day notice too well). But often it is better to choose the short-term pain over longer-term discomfort.

  15. My partner & I had a sort of similar situation. We lived with one of our close friends for a year, but over time it became apparent that we have a fairly different idea of how a house should go in terms of tidiness, schedules etc than our friend. He was forever on us about sharing where we were going, group grocery trips, a house cleaning day and things like that. Our lives just not that organised and it began to feel like living with a scolding parent not a friend!

    We talked to him one day and told him that we loved him but we were just too different in the way we liked our home life and thought we’d be much better off as friends who weren’t housemates. Felt super guilty bringing it up but he took it really well and we’re excellent friends again!

    However to solve the problem of who stayed in the house we ALL moved out. Perhaps offer to your friend to stay and have you move out, especially if she’s in the middle of a crazy time at school? And if you know someone else who’s looking for a housemate you think she’d get along with, let her know. Hope you work it out!

  16. Hello,

    I am in a similar situation. I live with my best friend and my boyfriend in a 2 bedroom apartment. We were rushed into moving here because my best friend and I had a really bad living situation before and just needed to get out.

    Now it’s kind of awkward because my best friend has a different view of cleanliness and what we want the apartment to look like – she’s very into decorating and buying stuff like little pillows while we already have some that aren’t the “cutest” but work…because they’re pillows. Our routines are really different and I feel like I have to split my time between them. When we’re out in the common areas she can’t let us just watch tv or do homework, it’s like we always have to be talking.

    ANYWAY my boyfriend and I are ready to move into our own place (we lived together alone before so that’s not an issue), so we called our apartment complex and they said theres a studio available now that would save us a few hundred dollars a year in rent, allow us to downsize, and my best friend would be relieved of her lease because my boyfriend and I will be starting a new one.

    We love our apartment complex and this is an awesome opportunity. Our lease expires in January and we really don’t want to have to move in the winter. If we move in August we can be all set before school starts!

    My best friend’s boyfriend is starting a lease in August in a huge house that I’m pretty sure she could tag herself onto, but she doesn’t really have any other friends so I know we would be abandoning her to either living by herself or forcing her to move in with her boyfriend ( of 4 years). I know I shouldn’t be too concerned about her situation but she’s very sensitive…and like I said my best friend.

    We will be giving her about 2 months notice.

    any advice??? PLEASE

  17. When my boyfriend and I decided to move in together in my appartement, I Had a new flat mate since a few mounths. The lease was at my name, and I lived there since a while, but I wanted to be fair. To me, accepting a flatmate meanes it’s both your homes, if possible, settle together. So I gave him a choice. We wait, I stay at my bf’s place utill he finds a new place, we all stay together untill the lease must be renewed and moving day arrives and we split the rent in three, or I stay at my bf’s place and pay my half of the bill. He thaught a few days and decided he liked the idea that we stay all together. It was a fun 6 months as we all saved money.

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