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Doormats And Bully Roommates Do Not Mix

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.

Good luck.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Elizabeth September 2, 2015, 10:16 am

    OP is worried about being graceful? She should be worried about staying out of jail.
    I’ll add to Admin’s advice: your tenants can no longer have guests.

  • Phoebe161 September 2, 2015, 10:24 am

    Submitter wants advice how to handle the situation with “grace?” Those roommates do not understand nor need grace; they need the Submitter to grow a very stiff spine. Submitter should be warned that if she & Jim do start enforcing boundaries, the roommates could very well get in a snit, blame her & Jim, and move out before the 3 months are up “because she & Jim are being unreasonable.” People like that have no shame.

  • songbird September 2, 2015, 10:25 am

    If she gives Kelly and Cody an ultimatum to clean up their act and they don’t, she’ll need a good lawyer.

  • CaffeineKatie September 2, 2015, 10:29 am

    Oh dear Administrator, you SO nailed it on the head! Yes, yes, yes–grow a spine! And frankly I wouldn’t hesitate to go in and talk to the cops if the nasty roommates don’t clean up their act. Tell them you are scared of the roommates and ask for help from them and be frank about the crimes you think they are committing. I know that works where I live–the police are much more interested in habitual criminals, and this pair certainly seems to fit the bill.

    • Terri2 September 3, 2015, 1:51 am

      Excellent advice 🙂

  • JWH September 2, 2015, 10:30 am

    LW and Jim need to see a lawyer, full stop. These issues go beyond “inconsiderate roommate” and into “potential crime.”

    • JO September 2, 2015, 6:55 pm

      I second this.

  • YAC September 2, 2015, 10:40 am

    It’s time to sit down with this couple and reinstate what was discussed at the initial interview. Is there anything in writing with these 2?

    Whose name is on the lease? If it’s Jim’s then he needs to tell this couple: Either shape up or find a new place to live in 30 days.

  • Shoebox September 2, 2015, 11:00 am

    Wowzers. Just, wow. This has been ongoing for months, getting steadily more horrific, and at no point did it occur to either of you, the holders of the lease, to do *anything whatsoever* about it? Not even talking to them? Frankly, OP, never mind not renting to you, I’m not sure you’re even qualified to live on your own at this point.

    If you do plan on trying the adulthood experiment past this experience, please, please learn something about standing up for yourself. See a therapist if necessary. And do not, repeat not, get new roommates until you do.

  • JD September 2, 2015, 11:07 am

    I can only say, Admin is absolutely right. Is she ever right!

  • Shannan September 2, 2015, 11:12 am

    If your water and electric bills have both tripled as you say, how are you unable to afford to kick them out????? It sounds like, just based on those 2 costs alone, you can’t afford to have them as roommates. Admin was spot- on to give you the tongue lashing she did.

  • PrincessButtercup September 2, 2015, 11:20 am

    Unfortunately there are a lot of people that don’t know how to live in a communal situation. I’ve seen it every time I’ve lived with others or in an apartment. And for those that don’t know how to respect others, you will have to be “the bad guy” or live a miserable life.
    Each time I’ve lived with others I quickly set personal spaces. Here is how the fridge is divided. Here is how the pantry is divided. Etc. I’ll even often volunteer to take the hardest to reach spot because I’m willing to be put out a little bit but not put out a lot by someone else walking all over me. But I grew up in a family of six so I actually understand how to live with others.
    If you put your foot down they will not be happy but it will be your best chance at not having a ton of extra trouble.
    (Also, if family is over that much that they are showering there then it’s time to tell your renters that they will have to chip in extra towards the bills.)

    • LonelyHound September 2, 2015, 2:07 pm

      I lived in a house with 3 other people during college. The owner of the house, one of my roomies, bought a shelf that had four large drawers, and all the dry goods that you did not want the others eating went in those. The fridge way free space, but all marked food was off limits. You were allowed a half gallon of milk, since everyone seemed to prefer a different brand. Veggies and refrigerated fruit were fair game for all since they could not be marked- tough toenails. All food in the cabinets was a free for all, but people usually respected favorite brands of crackers, cookies, chips, etc. All cookware was communal, but must be washed by the user, and put back on the appropriate tenant’s area. No toiletries were kept in the bathrooms, just too small, but the closets were huge so that was not an issue. Everyone respected these rules, even if most were unwritten, and it worked out great.

      • Lynne September 2, 2015, 9:21 pm

        Wow, fruits and veggies fair game? I wouldn’t be able to live by those rules — I want my produce to be there when I’m looking for it!

    • AS September 3, 2015, 1:25 am

      @Princess Buttercup- It does not require growing up with many children to learn living with others. I was an only child, but I was always taught by my parents to be cognizant of people around me. When I started living in dorms/ shared houses, I learned quickly about setting boundaries. It is a skill one needs to learn. Though getting out of my parent’s house where my personal space was automatically respected,it took me a little while to realize that I needed to grow a spine.

  • Dee September 2, 2015, 11:34 am

    What Admin said.
    Oh, and what’s up with the “blue collar” stuff? What could that possibly have to do with the issue, unless you, OP, are a bigot? If so, then I smell a whole lot of one-sidedness to this story and would love to hear the other one, even though it would be difficult to imagine how Kelly and Cody could justify any of this.

    • iwadasn September 2, 2015, 10:20 pm

      The “blue collar” description was relevant because it shows they most likely could not afford to be buying multiple microwaves, televisions, etc. left and right, which means, as Admin pointed out, that they were stealing them and storing them in OP’s house, thus involving OP in the crime.

      • Lizajane September 3, 2015, 12:34 am

        Blue collar does not always equal poor. Have you paid an electrician lately? A pumber? We had some backhoe work done a few years ago: $300.00 an hour and had to wait a month because the owner/operator was booked solid.

        • Dee September 3, 2015, 12:06 pm

          Exactly, Lizajane. “Blue collar” is used to imply “poor” or “boorish”. Which one does OP intend for this situation? Both? In any case, physical labour careers can be very lucrative, and there is no call for insinuating that a labourer is automatically uncouth. There’s definitely a bias to OP’s submission, and I wonder how it affects the whole story.

      • Maxwellsmom September 28, 2015, 6:11 pm

        I’m a “blue collar” worker. I also make over $110 thousand a year. That statement was highly offensive.

        • oregonbird October 20, 2015, 5:14 pm

          But you still have a chip on your shoulder, and can be ‘offended’ by use of a classic and even common trope phrase that gives the reader an automatic hook on the personalities involved in the situation. This really isn’t about you, or even about your lifestyle. Try being proud of the values you bring to the table, and don’t fret so much that there are recognizable personality types — we all grew up watching HeeHaw, and the caricatures were being presented by the same people who lived inside the culture; they weren’t being offensive, they were using universal tropes filtered through recognizable regional features. Yes, t.here are always more exceptions than trope ideals, there are dozens of other tropes that could have been used to define a situation. The OP made a valid choice, and you can disagree with it; just don’t try to ban using English as a personal tool — we’re lucky to have such a rich language to mine for communication.

  • Devin September 2, 2015, 11:41 am

    The Admin offers some great advice, but most of it has no legal holding. Depending on where you live, if they are not listed on the lease, you are probably already in violation of your lease. If they moved in with only a verbal agreement, without signing some sort of sublet agreement, you probably have little to no legal standing. Anything that happens to this townhouse will come back on the people who signed the lease, property damage, bills, unpaid rent, HOA violations, etc. In some states (Texas being one of them) they are also protected under squatters rights. Basically if they have lived there over 12 days, you will have to go through formal eviction proceedings, including given them 60 days to move out, and have to go to court to collect any damages or unpaid bills.
    Hopefully you growing a polite spine and demanding things revert back to the original agreement works.

  • L.J. September 2, 2015, 11:42 am

    I was disappointed to see this in the letter: “Kelly is “’wearing the pants’” and astonished to see this in the response: “Cody is acting like the man of the house, not Jim.” This is 2015, both people in a couple are equal, even if one of them happens to be female.

    I do agree with the rest of the response though.

    • Eppie September 16, 2015, 2:42 pm

      I couldn’t agree more!

  • PWH September 2, 2015, 11:58 am

    I sympathize with you OP, but it seems that you’ve let this go on for way too long. At the first sign of Cody and Kelly starting to abuse their roommate privileges, I would have sat down with them to discuss my concerns. That being said, hopefully you can hold out until the end of Jim’s lease so that you can be free of these people. I agree with Admin, I would lock away your television and change your Netflix password. You should also make sure your bedroom door is locked when you are not home. I would also sit down with Cody and Kelly to discuss the issues that have cropped up and give them firm deadlines on discontinuing certain behaviors and also tell them that outside “Guests” such as Kelly’s family are no longer welcome. Be sure to give Cody and Kelly notice that once the lease expires, you and your Fiancé will be moving out. Make sure you put this in writing and ensure your landlord knows. OP, I have a bad feeling about this situation and you should too. It sounds like Cody and Kelly aren’t the people you initially thought they were and could end up causing you more financial and maybe even legal trouble than you think.

    • Amanda H. September 3, 2015, 1:32 pm

      I’ll second the locking doorknob as well. In college, one of my husband’s three roommates turned out to be a bit of a habitual klepto–didn’t really think about what he was doing, but spare change and other small things like toiletries would end up wandering off to this particular roommate’s space. So my husband got a locking knob for the room he and one of the other roommates shared, and things stopped disappearing from their desks.

  • starstruck September 2, 2015, 12:04 pm

    Well, your roommates are nothing short of nightmares. If I were you I would give them a thirty day notice to leave, or you can’t then I would just move. Taking a smaller, cheaper apartment is worth it. If you can’t move right away, I would take all of the adm advice while continuing to look for a new place. I would also not allow their family to use any of your facilities what so ever. They don’t live there or pay rent . I would divide shelves in the fridge at once. And label them accordingly , to make room for your food. I’m very protective of my home, my castle. I couldn’t deal with any of this .

  • EchoGirl September 2, 2015, 1:04 pm

    I disagree that Cody and Kelly are necessarily thieves. I live in a decently well-off town and I am constantly stunned by the amount of things people throw away. If I You can get so much stuff off the curbs and out of the alleys near where I live, it’s almost sad. In the case of televisions, this has become especially true since many thrift store chains have stopped accepting old TVs. If I picked up everything of potential value I’ve come across, my apartment would look like something out of an episode of “Hoarders”.

    However, one of the rules I try to live by when I see cool stuff that’s been thrown away is that I only take it if I can actually use it — and I live alone! Kelly and Cody are rude to be collecting so much stuff, however it is that they are doing it, and then taking up shared space to store it.

    • EchoGirl September 2, 2015, 1:05 pm

      “If I You can get…” Should just read “You can get…” I accidentally moved my cursor back to the middle of a paragraph while I was typing my comment.

    • Dix September 2, 2015, 2:30 pm

      All Admin did was point out a suspicion that they are thieves. She didn’t conclude it. It’s a very well-founded suspicion.

      • EchoGirl September 2, 2015, 5:27 pm

        One more thing (which I couldn’t put my finger on until I re-read the post) that suggests to me that they aren’t thieves is that there’s only mention of them getting the stuff and piling it up, and no mention that any of it is leaving the home at any time. Generally, people don’t just go around stealing at that level and then store the stuff, the entire point to them is to sell it for cash.

        • Library Diva September 3, 2015, 9:48 am

          Good point. This points more to them intending to start a Craigslist business re-selling scavenged items, only to either find they have no motivation to actually post the stuff for sale, or that no one wants it.

    • Miss-E September 3, 2015, 12:12 pm

      My first thought was hoarding too. If they were illegally procuring electronics they would probably be selling them too so they wouldn’t just be stacked up. And the fact that there’s a mattress jammed in their laundry room really makes it sound like they just pick up junk wherever they can find it.

  • NostalgicGal September 2, 2015, 1:11 pm

    If there is ANYTHING in writing between the lease holders and the later tenants, use that to force them out after taking pictures. Doublecheck what your liability is (in case of drugs or stolen items) before you march right to the authorities and turn them in.

    You need legal help period to get out of this one.

    You might consider breaking the lease and hauling your stuff out in a 72 hour move if you can cover your rears legally.

  • Angel September 2, 2015, 1:16 pm

    I agree with the admin on all points. If you are not an owner of the property and only rent, then you have 3 months to find a new place to live. I recommend renting a cheaper place next time that you two can make the payments on, without resorting to finding complete strangers to live with. This is why I waited so many years to leave home–I wanted to make sure I had enough money to afford a place on my own. I might go one step farther and get a small refrigerator to keep in the bedroom. Let them have their crappy fridge. It’s for 3 months. Why worry about putting tape down the center of a fridge.

    And also I would just call the cops with an anonymous tip that there are drugs in the townhouse. But I would do that after you move out. I wouldn’t even give them any warning that you’re going to do it. Screw them.

  • Emmy September 2, 2015, 1:35 pm

    If you can’t afford to live on your own, it would be better to rent a smaller and more affordable space than like with Kelly and Cody again or take another roommate gamble (esp since the prior roommates did not sound like winners either).

    It’s a shame that people who are nice and generous are taken advantage of and unfortunately just getting a spine may not always solve the problem. The scary thing about issuing ultimatums is that the roommates could look for vengeance. They could always say the drugs belongs to the OP, items belonging to the OP can go missing, etc. Renting a place that you can afford prevents any dependence upon roommates for needed living expenses. I’d rather have a small house that is mine and comfortable to me and a longer commute than inconsiderate roommates and feeling at strife in my own home.

    • lakey September 2, 2015, 4:32 pm

      I agree. For an adult couple to live with another adult couple is tough under the best circumstances. I would rather have a one bedroom apartment and my privacy, than have an expensive 3 bedroom townhouse and have to have strange people wandering around all the time.

      Also, I would consider canceling cable and netflix if nothing else works. I’d rather have no tv than have to put up with a bunch of deadbeat relatives hanging around. Has anyone ever asked the deadbeat relatives to wash their dishes and clean the mess in the kitchen? Who knows maybe they’ll actually do it.

      And yes, OP and her husband let these people move in when they already knew that they were dopers, had one family member with a criminal background, and other family members who are apparently losers in some form or another. This isn’t about being blue collar. A lot of my uncles were factory workers. None of them ever saw the inside of a jail cell, or used illegal drugs, or free loaded.

    • daisy September 2, 2015, 6:18 pm

      Agree, I would rather live by myself in a small studio than have roommates in a mansion.

  • LonelyHound September 2, 2015, 1:44 pm

    One thing I would like to add about the “herbal” usage is that even if it is legal in your state (it is in CO) it does not mean that the property owner allows it. Whether or not they allow it should be in your rental agreement. If you are caught in violation of your rental agreement all the property manager has to say is that you violated the terms of your agreement. If your next rental place gets a hold of that they might either choose not to rent to you or increase your rent since you have already proven to be unreliable tenants.

    I do have one question I have for the OP is, does your lease agreement with the property management company allow you to bring in a roommate like this without them being on the rental agreement as well?

    • gb September 2, 2015, 5:10 pm

      Yes, any smile of any kind had to be in a rental agreement, which is why I don’t like how op pointed out which kind it is. We all know op did that to paint a worse picture of the room mates. It is a shame so many are judged on what their medical choices are, sexuality, race… all the same.

  • TheCatLady September 2, 2015, 1:54 pm

    This is all going to end in tears and fighting. If these were rational people instead of (what appears to be) habitual liars and users, you might be able to request change. But you are dealing with entitled drug addicts that do not care about your opinions, feelings, or any of your or their belongings. Get tough, have a fight, and you might have to move out yourselves. If you can’t afford to live there with out them… they can’t afford to live without you. hostage taking works both ways.

    Nice only works if the people you live with want you to like them… these people obviously don’t care.

    • JeanLouiseFinch September 2, 2015, 7:06 pm

      The real problem is that the LW’s boyfriend’s name is on the lease, so he would be liable for all of the rent and possibly, any damage the 2 tenants cause when they are there. I think the best thing to do is suck it up and try to get them evicted. You MUST seek legal advice for this. If you cannot afford representation, call your local bar association and get directed to one of the many free legal clinics where you could find help.

      If you didn’t sign a lease, most states have a default to a month-to-month tenancy. In many states, this means if you tell them that you want them to be out on 30 days notice, they must leave or they could be evicted by the sheriff. Even if you decide to let them stay until you are ready to leave, you must be sure they have left before you go and be sure that their damage does not eat up your security deposit. Make sure the locks are changed as they leave, if you think they are thieves. Otherwise, your boyfriend will get stuck for the holdover tenancy and the damages. Take the advice of the posters and only live where you can afford to pay the rent yourselves.

  • Lindsay September 2, 2015, 2:07 pm

    I would start simply. Spread out the electric and water bills. Note the increase. Then note that, because of the increase, people not paying to live here shouldn’t be using these utilities. Let this conversation progress as it should, culminating in “I am not paying for your family to be here. Please stop allowing them to use our home as their personal washrooms.”

    Moving from there, I would address the drug issue. “Hey y’all, when you moved in, the drugs were going to be kept in your bedroom. What happened there?”

    Last, the hording. “Y’all, I hate to do this, but your collection is taking up too much space. Will you consider either tossing it or can we have a garage sale? It’s not doing any of us any good taking up closets and the laundry room.”

    I think once you address those three issues, you can get through a packed fridge for the next three months. But tact with these folks could go a long way towards your long term sanity. What they are putting you through is absolutely not acceptable, but here you are. I went through something similar, and finally broke down screaming. It was amazing how much better everything on the home front got when it was all aired out.

  • Dix September 2, 2015, 2:26 pm

    There is nothing I would change about Admin’s advice.

    If the submitter has a relative who’s an ex-Marine, perhaps he’d agree to move in for a week or two to assist her in laying down the new law of this house. Either way, the old law was a failure. (Although, in the defense of all laws, they don’t help if you have spineless law enforcement.)

  • Lila September 2, 2015, 3:15 pm

    I have a feeling that this will not end well. I would follow all of the above advice and also move my most beloved possessions somewhere else. If you lay down the law, I have a feeling you may come home to an emptied out home one day. Make sure the things you really care about–jewelry, keepsakes, photos, important papers are secured somewhere else. If you have a desktop back everything up and leave the extra hard drive at work if you can. I wouldn’t trust them and I wouldn’t trust the people they have parading through your home.

    • CaffeineKatie September 2, 2015, 8:51 pm

      Excellent points!

  • Amara September 2, 2015, 3:23 pm

    OP, I heartily concur with almost all the comments here including the Admin’s. However, I want you to think seriously about what these “roommates” are capable of doing when they get angry. I would first move to protect the cat and dog by seeing if your mother can take them. They need to be safe from any potential retribution–and it sounds like these people are more than capable of it. Second, protect yourself by giving them notice. Are they sub-letters with your landlord’s approval? Or are they “under the radar”? The third thing is your belongings. While these are replaceable I suggest that if something is particularly precious move that (or those) out too either with friends, family or even a storage unit. You need to give them notice and then get out yourself ASAP.

  • Ergala September 2, 2015, 3:55 pm

    Pictures. Please please take a lot of pictures that are dated (preferably with a newspaper in the corner with that day’s date) and document everything. Heck I’d even record the little shindigs and make sure you are heard asking people to leave and their reactions. This will help you tremendously in court if it comes to that and you need damages. I’ve had to kick out a roommate and it was a very good friend of mine. I felt bad but she was a complete slob, ate me out of house and home and suddenly lost her job and couldn’t contribute to anything. She was supposed to be staying with me for a month. I can’t tell you how many times I’d go into the bathroom and find her “business” floating in the toilet. There is just no polite way of talking to someone about that. Or the fact she used all my stuff, tried to wear my clothes that were several sizes smaller than hers (I was a 2 she was at least a 16). How she squeezed into my shirts I don’t know but she did and ruined them. I finally had enough and told her she had 48 hours to find somewhere else to crash. She had only been there for 2 weeks. I felt bad but I was also angry and protecting MY apartment and MY stuff. Not to mention MY sanity. We’re still friends today and she has grown up a lot in 13 years.

    • GeenaG September 2, 2015, 6:25 pm

      Sorry but a picture with a newspaper to prove the date is useless and isn’t proof of anything. Pictures need to be taken with something that will time and date stamp them automatically when they’re taken.

      • iwadasn September 2, 2015, 10:22 pm

        Cell phone cameras do that, and many regular cameras do as well.

      • Ergala September 4, 2015, 11:29 am

        I was informed by someone in the legal field that it’s often times best to take pictures with something that cannot be digitally altered. I know I can change dates on my camera easily. Not everyone has a camera that tracks meta either. Hence why I said newspaper in the corner with the date. I’ve seen it happen way too many times.

  • stacey September 2, 2015, 4:50 pm

    I would worry less about being gracious and more about how to manage the situation. The first thing you want to do is begin to make things less comfortable. Step 1: Remove and box all excess items and place in their bedroom. Step 2: Remove and discard all food leftovers and condense food down to 1/2 of space. Step 3: Remove and place all “herbal remedies” in room. Step 4: Camp on sofa at will. Ignore attempts to interpose. Step 5: Require extra funds for increased bills. (If not forthcoming, can you really afford to have them as roommates?) Step 6; What else? Remain focused and remain firm.

  • gb September 2, 2015, 5:06 pm

    While the roommates were rude and the lease holder was a door mat, the mention of “herbal Remedies” has nothing to do with the situation besides being another thing a roommate is messy about. Add much add I love this site, admin cannot assume that this is illegally used or obtained and many people have legitimate prescriptions and medicate under the law. Of course in any shafted living situation you need to be respectful of messes. The mention of this makes me feel like the op was trying to paint a more negative picture of the female room mate, but ask it did was take away the ops credibility to me due to lack of education. It is very offensive to assume every person who uses medical Marijuana is a drug addict and may very well cost you readers. Please be respectful of others, admin, you fell into op’s trap, you assumed and offended a reader. I’d expect you to be more mindful of yourself and laws… seems to me you are VERY uneducated about this subject, so please, do some research.

  • Cat September 2, 2015, 6:17 pm

    I have to agree with Admin. You have allowed these people to take over your home and to crowd you out. If you have to have roommates to pay the bills, your place is beyond your budget.
    Find a place you can afford and don’t do this again. You don’t have personalities that are strong enough to deal with people like this. Just hope you can get ride of them once the lease is up.

    • MrsK September 3, 2015, 8:30 am

      I ABSOLUTELY agree! OP stated that the roommates are “blue collar” (even though blue collar doesn’t mean poor so I’m not sure the point of that) and have never lived in a place so nice, well OP it sounds like neither have you because you cannot afford it without them.
      Cut your losses, move someplace that you can afford to live and call it a day.

  • Rebecca September 2, 2015, 6:22 pm

    People like you’re describing are not just a hazard to your home, they are not safe individuals to be around. Especially since they’re not showing any respect to you, your fiance or your dog. They regard you as an annoyance as well, I’m quite certain. So get out of there. Break the lease if you have to, you’re already letting this spiral so far out of control that it’ll be financially painful regardless. I’d think mostly about your physical safety when dealing with two idiots who seemingly have not much to lose and a family of equal value.

  • Otter September 2, 2015, 7:34 pm

    Please protect yourselves. My daughter’s roommates took over her condo and made her life miserable. We were thinking of evicting them even without any illegal behavior (luckily they decided to move). I can’t imagine why you would let your roommates stay there with filthy, hoarding habits and nefarious friends and relatives using your place as a flophouse. The blatant, ubiquitous drug use would put me over the top. I would go to the cops and have them raid the place while you were gone. This would get them out quick so you could clean up and reclaim your lives.

  • AS September 3, 2015, 1:16 am

    It seems that Kelly and Cody do pay the rent regularly. Which probably means that they are in the lease, or they have at least been good about that.

    I agree with what the admin said. Establish boundaries now. And if they are on the lease, you can try to file a complain with the landlord.

  • MM September 3, 2015, 1:31 am


    You are way past the stage of politely asking, or enforcing new rules outright. You are now in a very dangerous spot of potentially being guilty by association of whatever is your roommates are doing.

    DO NOT threaten them, or do anything rash without knowing what your plan is!

    First, you MUST document everything that you can with video and photos. Send these pictures and videos to a secure email address left with relatives that can access them in the event that you cannot. If you can, do so on multiple occasions, however, respect their privacy as a landlord would.

    Second, you need to research on your rights (they can vary state by state) as a landlord and know exactly what is within your rights to do. Threats, more empty promises will do nothing to stem the flow of crap coming from them, and might encourage more bad behavior. Knowing what you can do BEFORE doing it will save you frustration, stress, and lash-backs.

    Third, you HAVE to confront these people SAFELY. If the extended family of these two people are around when you choose to do this, you need to have your own family (and a lawyer for good measure) around as a witness/protection. They have to go, set the date, and see them out. Others have commented on cutting out services like Netflix and such, but doing this without saying so before hand could make the situation dangerous…

    Armed with evidence, protected by your rights, and with the knowledge you acquired regarding this situation, sit down with them, give them the ultimatum of getting out, tell them services that been suspended, and after said time, see them out.

    Sorry to seem all doomsday-like, but you cannot say after the fact ‘We did not know what was going on,’ or ‘they said they would not do that…’ you will be in the same boat as these people.

    Good luck, and please stay safe!

    PS. If you can, an update would be most appreciated, to make sure you are safe!

    • Elea September 3, 2015, 8:10 pm

      Absolutely this! Others have commented with similar concerns and advice. OP, please please please do all of these things. I know from personal experience as well as horror stories from good friends that you truly cannot be overly cautious.

      MM, a very hardy gesture of admiration is directed at you through my screen. I was thinking along the exact same lines after reading OP’s account. You and other commentators are preaching the gospel truth.

  • just4kicks September 3, 2015, 2:50 am

    We took our oldest child to college last week, and after a very tearful goodbye, decided we were just too tired and upset to drive the five hours home as we had planned.
    We checked into a hotel and hopped across the street for some dinner before we turned in.
    My husband started talking to a couple and found out they too had just left the college after dropping off their daughter.
    They were telling us about their other daughter who attends college in Vermont, and the crazy roommate she had last year who not only stole their daughter’s personal items, but got a hold of their daughter’s “emergency only” credit card and charged up a storm until they caught her and pressed charges.

  • Margo September 3, 2015, 7:15 am

    OP, I think you and your partner need to sit down together ans decide what outcome you want. Do you want these people out, or would you be satisfied if their behaviour changed?
    Do you want them to stop having their family visit at all, or would you be OK with it if they covered the additional costs and ensured that their guests behaved better?

    Once you are clear about what you want, you need to sit down with your housemates and set out your new boundaries.

    For instance:
    – Any items they buy need to be stored in their own room, not in communal areas (or limited to a specific closet / shelf in the laundry room)
    – Fridge / food cupboards – need to limit the space used – I would suggest that you agree to have specific shelves for you and for them, and also that you make clear that anything mouldy or rotten will be thrown out.
    – cleaning – agree that they will be responsible for cleaning up after themselves and their guests, and that this will be done within a reasonable time – this might include ensuring that washing up is never left over night, and that if it is not done immediately that any dirty pans are stacked neatly on a single counter top so that they are not in the way of others using the kitchen
    – guests – agree rules for visitors – possible limit this to no more than (say) 2 evenings per week, no later than 10 p.m. and on the basis that they ensure that they clear up promptly after their guests.
    – bills – show them the evidence and make it clear that you expect them to cover the increases.
    – dog mess. Make clear to them that they need to clear this up and to use a leash, to comply with the rules of the unit. Tell them that any fines will be passed on to them and that you will evict them if they can’t keep to the rules.
    – drugs – I would tell them that this is no longer working and that you cannot allow any drugs or drug paraphanalia in the house.

    I would suggest that you also agree to draw up a signed set of house rules and that you ask them whether there are other rules they want to have considered. While you are the landlords, this is there home too so it is reasonable to listen to what they want.

    I find the issue about them watching TV a bit odd- if you are watching TV why shouldn’t they join you? It seems weird to expect them to sit in their bedroom the whole time. If you want time when they let you have sole use of the living areas then it might be sensible to discuss that and include it in the house rules – maybe one evening a week where you have sole use of the living space, one evening a week when they do, and the rest of the time you share it.

    I would, however, suggest that you get some legal advice before you talk to them, and make sure you are clear about whether and how you can get them out, so you know what your back up plan is if they can’t or won’t change.

    Have you talked to them about any of these issues? It may be that they have no idea that you are not happy.

    • just4kicks September 3, 2015, 11:01 am

      One of my son’s over the summer let it slip that one of their older friends brought over a bottle of liquor to one of the many bonfires they had in the woods behind our house.
      I was furious!!!
      My husband trotted out the “they are almost in college, of course they are gonna sneak drinks once in awhile”, siding with the kids.
      I said, “the kid who brought the booze DROVE home!!! If he would’ve gotten in an accident (aside from he could’ve killed himself or others), the cops would’ve certainly asked where he had been drinking, and we would have gotten in major trouble for letting minors drink in our home!”

  • Twik September 3, 2015, 7:33 am

    From my own experience – don’t trust prospective tenants who are *exceptionally* eager to please. That usually means something’s up with them.

    And marijuana is not a “remedy” if it’s not being used for a specific medical purpose. It’s drug use, and accepting that means that you will have stoned people lying around your house. Unless you also partake, this isn’t likely to be comfortable.

  • PWH September 3, 2015, 8:12 am

    OP, I’ve seen both sides of nightmarish Landlord/Tenant issues. We had Landlords entering our apartment without permission to rifle through our things while we weren’t there (I ended putting tape over the door and placing pieces of paper in the door, so we could provide proof in our complaint to the building manager) and I also lived with three roommates, one of which was a massive slob, broke several things in the apartment and took over our common areas. On the other hand, I have a friend who rents a property to students and he had to deal with large parties that caused a lot of damage and also stolen property. All I can say is – document everything to cover yourself and be prepared should things get worse. Hopefully you will be able to provide an update on how things are going or went.

  • Denise September 3, 2015, 8:50 am

    While it may be true that the roommates cannot afford to live in something so nice on their own, it’s also true the OP cannot.

    At this point, the likelihood of this roommate situation going back to what you feel it was in the beginning is not very high.

    You need to go through the legal steps to have them, and their belongings, removed from the property. Then, you can either find a way to afford it (sell some belongings, get a second job for the time being, cut back expenses) or find somewhere else to live.

    You need to learn to live within your means independent of outside help from roommates or others.

  • Rae September 3, 2015, 10:48 am

    Does this not scream “troll” to anyone else? I honestly find it hard to believe that anyone in their right mind would allow this to happen in their own home without doing something about it sooner. Unless like the admin said, they just really have no spine. But me thinks someone is fabricating a tale in order to get posted on this site. Just my opinion.

    • TaterTot September 3, 2015, 3:07 pm

      Actually, that did cross my mind. But I am also sure that there are spineless people in the world who could get themselves into similar situations.

    • Elea September 3, 2015, 8:21 pm

      Unfortunately…I have been that doormat. There are still some people in my life who remember how spineless I was when it came to standing up for myself. I was always desperate to make people happy and my self esteem was abysmally low. You are correct, no one in their right mind would let things deteriorate into such a mess, self-loathing people pleasers are very much not in their right mind.

      I developed my polite spine over time, but it literally took therapy to do so. As I read OP’s story, my stomach churned and I felt so ashamed because I can imagine everything she described as well as every justification for being “non-confrontational”. I could have easily been her at one time.

      Hopefully all of the advice and insightful people have offered will be the extra push she needs to take a stand.

  • cdubz September 3, 2015, 12:48 pm

    I would talk to your landlord about ending the lease early. You only have 3 months left, so they may just let you leave without penalty depending on how strict they are. And downsize to a smaller place so you don’t need to rely on having roommates to pay the bills.

    Your big mistake was letting them live with you in the first place. Even though I’m not anti-pot, it is still an illegal substance where I live and I will not permit an illegal substances in my home. Plus I just can’t stand the smell, even if you confine it to one room it goes everywhere. If you live somewhere it’s still illegal, OP, you need to talk to a lawyer. What if your roomies get caught smoking and the police decide to search your home? You could end up facing legal consequences even if you never smoked it.

  • OP September 3, 2015, 2:53 pm

    Thank you to everyone who commented, and thank you EHelldame. Your responses acted like a swift kick in the pants – Jim and I need to get our acts together and confront these people instead of just letting them go on. Neither of us are confrontational people (obviously) but you all are right that we could be in legal trouble for this. I hadn’t even thought of that aspect.
    I would like to clear a few things up. First, they are not stealing the appliances. Their various relatives have garages full of these things from thrift stores, yard sales, curb finds, etc., and they have brought them to the townhouse under the pretense that they will be “useful” but in fact they are just dust traps. Cody and Kelly definitely have some hoarder tendencies. Second, no they are not on the lease, but the landlord became aware of them when Kelly decided to take advantage of a neighborhood snow-cone block party and introduced herself to the landlord (why she did that we may never know). We have to put them on the lease once they are able to provide us with two recent pay stubs. Third, we took them on as roommates because our old roommates got a job offer overseas and left quickly, which meant we had about two weeks to find new roommates or go into debt – that’s why we agreed to let Cody and Kelly live in the townhouse. Fourth, they do pay half of all the bills, even when they have risen – but Jim has to pay the increased portion too and that is bad financially for him. Fifth, when our lease is up, we will be moving to a place without roommates. It will be a struggle because of the breed of dog Coco is, but continuing to live with Kelly and Cody is not an option.
    I am going to go through the house tomorrow (my day off from classes), gather their things that are strewn throughout the house, including any drugs, and tell Cody and Kelly that they need to be thrown out or taken care of. Tonight I will discuss with Jim how to confront them about the rest of the problems – the clan, the drugs, Boo, the mess, et cetera. He’s not going to like it but as you all have very clearly indicated, it needs to be done or we will be severely at risk. Thank you all for the “tough love”!

    • Elea September 3, 2015, 8:23 pm

      OP! Thank you for replying to everyone. I hope you will let us know how it goes at some point. You could really inspire others 🙂

    • AS September 4, 2015, 9:36 am

      OP – please send us an update. I hope things go smoothly for you and Jim.

    • cdubz September 4, 2015, 9:42 am

      Did you let them move in without notifying your landlord or putting them on the lease? That was the most careless move you could have made.

      There is a reason everyone over 18 goes on the lease; so they know the terms of living there and that they are in part liable for anything that happens to the property. Not to mention the landlord would have run a background check on them before they moved in. Maybe if they had to sign a contract beforehand you wouldn’t be in this mess!

      And the fact that the landlord wasn’t told, but he “became aware”, puts you in a very bad light. It looked to him like you were trying to hide these people. I had a friend recently stay with me for a month, the first thing my husband and I did was notify the landlord.

      Living in a confined space with other people requires good communication and stiff spines or situations like this happen. I’m glad you guys are moving to a place you can afford on your own, and I’m sorry that it will be a struggle, but trust me when I say it will be worth it.

    • Another Sarah September 4, 2015, 10:29 am

      Thanks for updating us OP, hope you come back and tell us how it went

    • Lisa September 4, 2015, 11:11 am

      Good luck!

    • Shannan September 4, 2015, 11:15 am

      I’m betting those recent paystubs never materialize.

      Please let us know what happens after you lay down the law.

      • OP September 14, 2015, 11:21 am

        Ok, all, here is a final update.
        Jim discussed with Cody privately that their behavior was not acceptable, and they needed to shape up fast. He also told him that they needed to be gone in November since he was terminating the lease. Things went ok from then; they did a better job cleaning, did not use drugs downstairs (or if they did then they cleaned it right up), they didn’t bring any new crap home, Kelly actually cleaned the whole downstairs once, and the Clan only visited Kelly for her birthday. They did write something rude on our calendar whiteboard about how a “man” needs to start taking out the trash – I had written reminders to clean the range and counters and put away the dishes, and I guess they couldn’t resist chiming in. I thought Jim was going to explode right then and there.
        However, the raised-up bill for power just came in and Cody flat-out lied to Jim about “losing the bank card” and “we’ll pay you tomorrow”. They have been eating out at restaurants regularly so “losing the bank card” is a lie. Also, the very day they failed to pay Jim, I walked downstairs that evening to find Kelly cutting and dying some random woman’s hair in our living room, with hair everywhere on the floor, and a random man clearly stoned on our couch, watching cable (we changed the netflix password). The next morning about 80 percent of the hair had been cleaned up but there were red dye splotches on the floor and still no money for Jim. I had to loan him the money from my savings.
        He has shut off the house Internet (we have our own private router just for us two), will disconnect the cable, and plans to (falsely) tell Cody and Kelly that he has paid for early lease termination, giving them about two weeks to ship out. We will also be packing up our electronics and dishware to store at a separate location so they do not have access to any of our personal “luxuries” while they are still staying here. Not sure what to do about the pets, but authorities will be called if Cody and Kelly make any kind of trouble. Thanks everyone for your advice!

        • Shannan September 15, 2015, 11:51 am

          Please make sure you and Jim keep a copy of every bill Kelly and Cody do not pay their fair share of. I have a feeling you may need to take them to court to see any of it.

  • Nadia September 3, 2015, 8:55 pm

    GRANDE DAME!!!! I love your handling of this post! I have roommates and oh my, we keep telling ourselves how lucky we finally are because we have had the worst, and straight up, blunt talk like yours is a God-send to anyone who DOES have a quandary about a roomie situation. Oh I am so happy to see your more familiar firm hand on display than when you don’t offer a personal analysis lololol. Yes, this world does need your guidance cause you expose the mean people behind the facades they display of ”etiquette” and ask the blunt questions. Thank you!

  • ArtK September 5, 2015, 11:55 am

    This is a classic example of where thinking that you’re being “nice” or “polite” turns right into “doormat.” OP, these people have zero consideration for you. Nobody here or on the EHell forum is going to call you rude for telling these people, bluntly, to “shape up or ship out.”

    Just read the update… I’m glad EHellDame and others have inspired you to take action. Continue to do so. We’ll be here to cheer you on.

  • JaneM September 11, 2015, 11:52 am

    As a note to all, you can find roommate agreements online. It’s advisable to have these agreements in writing, so that expectations are clearly set forth and you can refer to them later when there’s an issue.

  • MM September 14, 2015, 6:17 pm

    Glad to hear that things are turning around!

    A good learning experience this has been, and I am glad to hear that you will be leaving these people to there own devices.

    Hope everything goes well for you from now on!!