Roommates can be like family. Think about it: you’re with them every time you wake up in the morning, you probably share a lot of meals together, and you split up all the household responsibilities. It’s really not that crazy to think that this person you share a living space with could feel like a member of your own family — and some roommates live together harmoniously for years.
But other times, a roommate can be your worst nightmare. Whether they don’t ever do the dishes, have no respect for your personal space or property, or they just aren’t paying their rent on time, a bad roommate can be a headache to say the least.
If you’ve been unfortunate enough to find yourself stuck with one of these terrible roommates, what are your options? Do you just let it ride out until the end of your lease, or are there actual steps you can take to remove yourself from the situation?
Here’s everything you need to know when a roommate just isn’t working out.
First, Try to Work It Out
Try to think back to your move-in day. It’s very unlikely that you chose to move in with someone that you couldn’t stand. If they were a “potluck” roommate, then sure, you may not have known them, but you were at least optimistic that you could get to know them and learn to like them.
When you’re having difficulty with your roommate, try to think back to the time before you lived together (and still liked each other). Is there really not a way that you could see yourself getting along with them again? Sometimes we build up problems a ton in our heads only to find that they’re more easily solvable than we think.
If at all possible, it’s always best to try to work things out with your roommate. If they’re doing something that drives you crazy, then tell them that! Sit down and have a frank conversation with them — they may not even know that you’re harboring deep frustration with them. The quicker you can have that conversation, the better.
Assess How Much It Would Cost to Move Out
Okay, so maybe you’re at the point where you really can’t see things working out with your roommate. Maybe they’ve done something unforgivable like stolen something from you or refused to pay their share of the bills, or maybe they’re just constantly having parties late into the night when they know you have to work. Whatever the reason, you’re just done.
Once you’ve determined that the issue with your roommate can’t be fixed, you’re then going to have to figure out how much it would cost to break your lease. This will largely depend on what type of lease it is (i.e. whether you’re renting individually by room or both of your names are on the lease). Some landlords will have a clause in their agreements that helps you calculate how much of a penalty you would have to incur depending on how many months are left in the lease.
If you have the money to break the lease and secure another apartment, then by all means pack up your stuff in the middle of the night and don’t look back. If you’re lacking the funds for that (and yes, these penalties can be quite expensive), then you might need to find another way to ditch your roommate.
Ask Your Landlord if You Can Sublet Your Room
Depending on your lease, you may be able to sublet your room. If you are allowed to do so, you’ll need to figure out how the rent is going to be paid (whether the subletter will pay the landlord directly or if they’ll pay you). And even though you might not be crazy about your roommate, you might want to give them a head’s up that someone else is going to be moving into the apartment.
Just Grin and Bear It
Although it might seem like another nine months on a lease with someone you don’t like is an eternity, it really isn’t. If your roommate truly bothers you, just try to avoid them as much as you can before and after work hours. Be civil, but don’t go out of your way to spend any time with them. Spend time in your room, or make an effort to be out of the apartment when your roommate is home by spending time at coffee shops, the local library, or a friend or family member’s house.
You could also avoid them altogether by temporarily crashing at your parents’ or a (very accommodating) friend’s house. Arrange for your things to be moved into storage and then move them into your new apartment when your lease begins.
It might seem like your nightmare roommate scenario will last forever, but before you know it your lease will be up and you’ll both be able to move on with your lives.