Just like all relationships in life, sometimes things just don’t work out with roommates, and they gots to go.
A couple of months ago I had to kick out a roommate for the first time in my life. Come to think of it, that’s kind of unusual, since I’ve had at least 20+ roommates over the years. !!! Anyways, things had been coming to a head for several months with late night disruptions and uncleanliness, but it took a major blowout to actually spur us to action.
It’s reminds me of this odd bit of human behavior I learned in one of my psych classes- small annoyances ultimately cause more damage than large disturbances. If you think about it, it makes sense. You’ll put up with a bathroom door that needs to be slammed shut longer than a broken living room window. While the broken window is worse, you’ll get it fixed immediately and so it is ultimately not as annoying as living with a slammed door for 5 months.
Not that our roommate was just slamming doors. And it was really more than just a bad fit. He was a heavy drug user and occasionally acted in ways that made us feel unsafe (I didn’t know about this until the end). Ultimately he threatened to attack one of my roommates, and because of that he had to go. It was a no-brainer, but still I was incredibly nervous about the confrontation.
I bumbled through the process, but you don’t have to! Here’s a guide :
- Decide for sure that the roommate has got to go and why. If you’ve got other roommates, it’s time to have an honest discussion about Roommate X. Whether the reason is aggressive behavior or even something as simple as you just want to live alone again, first you’ve got to make the decision to kick them out. Be firm! Be confident in your choice. No take backs. It’s just like breaking up.
- Figure out the logistics. When would you like them to leave? What does the rental contract say? Are they on the lease? If so, search the tenant laws in your state for more information on their rights. If they’re not on the lease, do what you like. Think carefully about how you would like to replace them, if at all.
- Once you’ve talked it through with the other roommates, schedule a quiet time to talk with your future ex-roommate.Talking face to face is best so that there is no confusion about what is going on. It’s also best not to suddenly surprise the person. If the person is violent, hide or lock your valuables up first.
- In your meeting, you’ll probably be incredibly nervous and maybe even shaking as you speak. Just breathe. Then calmly let the roommate know of your decision. Try to focus on non-personal and REAL reasons for the decision. Frame the reason as a difference between roommates, and not an accusation toward that single roommate. For example, “Our work hours are very different” is better than “You always bring people over after work to party at 2am.”
- Don’t draw it out. Don’t give them the false hope of thinking that maybe you can work it out. If you are willing to negotiate on the terms of the moveout, now would be the time to talk. Be sure to talk about the security deposit and any expectations you have for the room (cleaning or painting for example). Also, just a note: if you’re at the point of thinking about kicking them out, chances are that the roommate knows things have been rough. It may not be a hurtful surprise at all on their end. In fact they may be relieved for the chance to leave.
- After you’ve finished your talk, give them space! AKA run back to your room.
- Clarify any open questions over email or in person. Wait 1-30+ days for them to leave. If you’ve given them longer 30 days, or have allowed them to “stay until they find another place…” well good luck. It could be a while. Try to be pleasant. If that doesn’t work, learn to revel in the awkwardness. It’s an important skill for life.
- On their moveout day, don’t hide from them. It will be obvious. Say goodbye like a grown up.
Asking my roommate to move out was one of the most adult things that I had to do last year. While it was incredibly awkward at first, I think that now my ex-roommate is in a better housing situation for his lifestyle, and my house has become a much calmer place.
If you’re in this situation, good luck! It doesn’t have to be terrible.