Apartment Guru: Getting Rid of the Roommate From Hell

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bad roommateDear Apartment Guru,

There are three of us sharing an apartment. One of my roommates is just awesome. She is respectful, doesn't eat other people's food without asking, smokes outside the house, keeps the TV and stereo at audible but polite levels, knows how to use dish soap and a vacuum, and if her boyfriend stays over she makes sure he does things like put down the toilet seat and not walk around with his backside exposed.

My other roommate does the opposite of every single one of those things.

I want to get roommate number two out of here, but I don't know how. What's your advice?

-- About to Scrub Out the Roommate


Dear Scrubber,

There are few I know who do not share some version of your story. Maybe it will bolster your spirit to learn that this will one day give you a great cocktail-party story, like the one from the girl who lived with the tobacco-chewing jerk: He spit his dip into a clear plastic two-liter bottle.until it spilled over onto a finals paper his roommate had handwritten. (In terms of creatively, I thought it looked nicer -- umm, I mean she thought looked nicer).

Unfortunately I have some bad news. According to Gary S. Dunn, a real estate lawyer in Garden City, N.Y., "If roommate number two is on the lease, in some states it will be very difficult to terminate their rights to live in the apartment."

At least if the roommate was laundering money instead of not laundering anything, you might be able to get them arrested. But since living like a pig or having a naked boyfriend isn't illegal, you might just have to suck this one up and run through the various ways in which this could be worse. Believe me. It could be. (Need proof? See A&E's "Hoarders" and MTV's "The Real World")

The other suggestion I'd like you to consider is to USE YOUR WORDS, Scrubber. Sometimes a person who is new to living on his or her own can be at a loss for how to live politely and in harmony. Even if you aren't this person's first roommate, it's possible she just hasn't been schooled on the ways of adult living.

I once had a friend who swore that she just never thought about how the garbage can in her room got emptied, she just noticed that sometimes it simply was empty. Similarly, I have known a lot of guys who grow up never being asked to put down the toilet seat so it never occurs to them to do it unless their ... um ... deposit requires them to do so.

I know it's difficult to sit someone down and point out that garbage simply does not take itself out and that girls fall into toilets where seats have been left up, so think of this act as a good-deed for this person's future roommates. These words of yours might just get through to them -- and their future roommates will benefit. Think of it as good karma.

"My best advice," says Dunn, "would be to seek alternate living arrangements upon the expiration of the lease."

But if you wait that long, you will probably be using your deadbeat roommate's toothbrush to scrub the toilet, if I know the likes of me you. So in the meantime, sit this roommate down and demonstrate how to use the vacuum, share great tips for dish-washing, and provide a clearly drawn schedule of the recycling and trash days. When you eventually part ways, keep your roomie as a Facebook friend so that somewhere down the road you can see their happy future roommates who have benefited from your kindness, patience and training.


Have a question for the Apartment Guru? Email her at: apartmentguruquestions@gmail.com


The Aparment Guru is Joselin Linder, co-writer of The Good Girls Guide to Living in Sin and Have Sex Like You Just Met. Having rented apartments and houses in Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Brooklyn, Columbus, OH and abroad in Prague, CZ, she knows what it means to live in home you don't own and still make it homey. Anything she doesn't know, she isn't afraid to ask.
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