Dearest EHelldame, I am having a problem with my roommates and would love your input on how to correct the problem with grace.
I live with my fiance Jim in a three-bedroom townhouse with our dog Coco and our cat. We have two roommates who are a couple – Kelly and Cody. They have a tiny dog called Boo.
When they first moved in, they were stellar roommates. They are very definitely “blue collar” and our townhouse is the nicest space they have lived in, so they were eager to please. They promptly cleaned up after themselves, only put small amounts of food in the fridge, were rarely around, and never had guests over. Kelly made a point of telling us during the “interview” we conducted that she was estranged from her sister, who was constantly in and out of jail/prison, and didn’t really like her mom or brothers who also had dubious reputations. They also mentioned that Kelly used certain “herbal” remedies, but promised to keep that in their room and out of sight since that was a huge problem we had had with our last roommates. Jim and I do not mind the use of these products, but insist on it being cleanly and considerately done.
Things have now changed quite a bit with Kelly and Cody. Jim and I are unable to buy groceries for ourselves since the fridge is stuffed with their food – even minuscule amounts of leftovers are apparently worthy of saving in any empty container around and left in there for weeks at a time. Even after “cleaning out” the fridge, there is still barely room for food. They have been bringing in various appliances and home goods from various places – our coat closet is stuffed with microwaves, TVs, chairs, et cetera, and there is a mattress and box spring wedged in our laundry room. Boo is allowed to doo-doo in our front yard, without a leash (she is “scared” of them), even though we have already gotten one email from management saying that if that continues we will be fined. Any kind of “herbal” remedy is now used upstairs, downstairs, in the kitchen…often resulting in disgusting paraphernalia left out. Cigarette butts cover the front yard and back yard – when my mother dropped by to see our cat, she looked out of the window into the backyard and commented “Oh, that’s a lot of cigarette butts…” When Jim and I come home from work and college, respectively, we can never enjoy a quiet time in the living room since Kelly and Cody are permanently on the couch watching TV, often intoxicated. If we miraculously get the couch first for some nice time together, Cody decides he wants to join and will hover around or outright sit down and make crude jokes about whatever we watch.
The worst problem is Kelly’s “clan”. Despite what she told us before, her mother and sister are now regular fixtures at the townhouse. They will sit downstairs watching Netflix on Jim’s TV for hours at a time, prepare food and leave a gigantic mess on the range, the counters, the floor, the pots and pans and utensils, and in the sink. They also use our townhouse as a shower and laundry stop. The water bill has tripled in the past three months, and Jim and I are barely able to move in the shower for the dozens of shampoo bottles, body washes, and loofahs. The power bill is also through the roof, since they will simply leave the TV on after they are done watching and never turn lights off in rooms they are no longer in. Jim is unbelievably uncomfortable around the clan, mostly because of how dubious their reputation is and also because of how disrespectful they are to our living space. I have had little interaction with them but what interaction I have had involved none of the three women being sober. Occasionally some friend of theirs will come over, ostensibly to pick the sister up and drive her somewhere, but will inevitably end up joining the little party.
Jim does not like Kelly because she is often very rude to him and also disrespectful to Coco, and he has spoken to Cody numerous times about how he does not like Kelly’s clan being invited over. While Cody waffles about “he won’t stand for it any longer”, it is clear that Kelly is “wearing the pants”. Sometimes the clan comes over when Cody is at work – other times he will just join right in watching TV with them. Jim has decided to move out when his lease is up, but that still leaves us three months with Kelly, Cody, and the clan, and while we are not sure if we can afford them being around anymore, literally, we also cannot afford to kick them out and pay their part of rent and bills alone. What is the best way to deal with these unwanted extra guests, and possibly the other problems too, while remaining on the “high road”?
You and Jim are candidates for the most spineless people in the history of this blog. I’m going to sound harsh but someone needs to administer a much needed shot of titanium to your spines.
There are so many red flags in this dilemma and it’s no mystery to me why Kelly and Cody are walking all over you. You appear to have no convictions, no boundaries, nor internal fortitude to stand your ground. It’s a sad indictment on humans but people, like animals, gravitate towards a hierarchy and if they detect that someone is not to be respected, they exploit that weakness. Cody and Kelly were fawningly polite and deferential upon first interviews because they perceived Jim was in a position of authority and power as the leaseholder. But that quickly changed when they realized they were rooming with a pair of doormats who could be easily manipulated and now the power has shifted to Cody and Kelly. They have you over a barrel and they know it. Cody is acting like the man of the house, not Jim.
Your first problem is the lack of conviction about “herbal remedies”, a cutesy euphemism for drug use. If the municipality where you reside has not legalized this “herbal remedy”, Jim is in serious danger of being liable for the presence of these drugs in a domicile which he holds the lease agreement.
There are closets full of small appliances? I noted you used the plural “microwaves” and “televisions”. If these items are not in their original boxes, I suspect either Cody or Kelly or both of them are burglars and thieves. If the police were to raid your townhome, they won’t care nor believe your claims that you and Jim are innocent victims.
And Boo Boo pooping on the front lawn will be Jim’s problem as it is he who will be fined by the rental management, not Cody.
You two are risking arrest, legal fees, jail time, and least of all, a bad reputation as undesirable tenants because you have allowed Cody and Kelly to take over the house. I’ve been a landlord and I wouldn’t rent to you. You have demonstrated poor judgment and have no ability to keep someone else’s (as in the townhome’s owner) property safe and clean. You can’t afford to live in the rented townhome without Cody and Kelly’s financial assistance means you are slaves to them and the potential of having your life ruined by association with them.
But if you and Jim cannot possibly afford to boot Cody and Kelly out before the lease is over, you have a very few options that will require you both to gird up the loins, take a stand and get back your home. There are three bedrooms? Why not move the TV and couch to the third bedroom, which I assume you and Jim have primary use of, and make that room your private living room? Buy a door handle with lock and key and change it out so that only you and Jim have access to it and when you and Jim move out, replace the door knob with the original one. If this is not feasible to do, have Jim buy one of these … http://www.amazon.com/Roride-RRKA-StoPower-Power-Plug/dp/B0014ZXWCS/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1441203162&sr=8-4&keywords=tv+lock….and put it on his TV plug. And aren’t Netflix accounts password protected? Have Jim change the password and don’t tell Cody and Kelly.
Give Cody 3 days to get the mattress and box spring out of the laundry room or else you are throwing it away. If marijuana usage is illegal where you live, issue an immediate ultimatum to remove all evidence of it from the townhome or you will call the police. Regardless of whether it is legal or not, inform them that the original agreement was to keep the drug paraphernalia to their own bedroom and any further items left in the common areas of the house will be thrown out. And be sure to include a demand that all the appliances in storage in the closets are placed either in their bedroom or in rented storage space. Place tape down the center of the refrigerator door and inform Cody and Kelly that the left side is their side of the refrigerator and the right is yours. Anything of theirs loping over to your side will be thrown away promptly.