No matter how hard you tried to make it work, the writing is on the wall. The relationship is over. As if dealing with the break up is not bad enough, dealing with the business of your contractual living arrangements could end up being the real nightmare. Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston could make this exact situation comical to us in the movie The Break-Up. In real life, and even more when it involves you, for some reason it isn’t so funny.
Living together at one point sounded like a swell idea. You were paying for two apartments and probably spending so much time together, one apartment was often empty. I’m sure that the first argument for premarital cohabitation was the same one I used on my parents. “We would be saving so much money not just in rent but utilities, we are going to end up getting married anyway, I’d be living so much closer to work…blah, blah, blah” What a wonderful idea. I bet this is why how hard you tried to make it work included extra effort just to avoid the speech that you knew was coming. “I told you so. When I was your age, we never would have lived together before marriage….” You know the one.
In the ideal world, after the break up, one of you would want to get out of the apartment and lease free and clear, and one would want to stay. In this event, be honest with property management and see if they can rewrite or remove someone from the lease. Again, this is in the ideal world. How often does this really happen?
The best thing you can do is discuss what will happen if you break up before it happens when everything is wonderful. Come to an agreement what you may do, under worst case scenario, you know, just in case. When you are discussing moving in together why not discuss what happens if you break up? Wouldn’t you want to discuss this when you are willing to compromise with each other and not mad over whatever it was that led to a break up? Why not write it down? Just like your lease, get it in writing, not to just protect yourself, but your dear significant other, too.
If you didn’t discuss this prior to moving in together and things are getting ugly, do your best to come to a fair agreement. It is hard to fight a battle with no one fighting you. Remain calm about the situation. This does not mean give in to all demands by any stretch of the imagination. This just means getting worked up and seeking revenge is probably going to set you back more than help. If your roommate negotiates in this fashion, let him/her know you are more than willing to work together calmly and compromise. Write things down and cover your bases.
How can you compromise? If you want to vacate the apartment maybe you can do that if you find a new roommate in your place. Maybe you can pay a portion of your rent to help cover expenses for the remainder of the lease? Is it possible to live together, get along and respect each other? Can you both move out and sublet the apartment? Will the landlord allow the lease to be transferred to a smaller apartment for less rent if a new one year lease is signed by just one of you? If you break the lease, what is the penalty and can you pay it? Is there a negative reference for breaking the lease and paying the penalty? Is it less expensive to pay your half of the rent for the remainder of the lease? Be creative and think of what you both can do to come to an agreement.
Ending a relationship with a boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend or a co-worker can be very stressful. When you are living together it can be unbearable. The process of moving on is going to be as hard or as easy as you both decide to make it.
Have you negotiated a similar painful or (somewhat) pain-free situation? Share your stories and suggestions below–we’d love to hear them.