roomate dilemma - advice needed

  1. hello everyone!

    a little background on my situation: a friend of mine owns a house and i've been renting out a room from her for the past 1.5 years. when i first moved in, it was agreed that she was only going to charge me for rent and that i would not be responsible for paying any utilities. this is also what is stated on the lease i signed.

    last night she brought up the fact that utilities were getting really expensive and how i felt about paying for half. i was really caught off guard, so i agreed to it. however, the more i think about it, i feel like it's unfair.

    my roomate quit her job a week ago, without having another job lined up and i can't help but feel this is the reason why the topic even came up. i can understand she is probably tight on money, but it wasn't my decision for her to quit.

    we have HD tv and a DVR box downstairs that i barely use. i don't feel it's fair that she's including those in the utilities as well when she was the one who wanted them. am i being irrational or is it normal that i'm slightly annoyed that i'm expected to make these changes without being given any proper notice first?

    i'm planning on talking to her about it this weekend. i consider her a pretty good friend and i don't things to be awkward. does anyone have advice as to what i should say? thanks in advance! :smile:
     
  2. Regardless of the circumstances leading to her being unemployed, is she the kind of "pretty good friend" you'd help while she was out of a job?

    Unless the cost of half the household utilities makes your rent ridiculously high, I think it is fair for her to ask for half of the cost.
     
  3. i don't think it's unfair.. if you want to i guess you could ask not to pay for the things that you don't use but you do use electricity, water, gas if you have it, and i assume the internet. since it's your friend you're probably paying a little below market rent too. when does your lease expire?

    i have a friend renting a room from me (her rent is a bit below market rent which is why i figured yours might be too) and utilities have gone up a fair bit this year (don't ask me how, i've barely been living there for about a year) and once our contract runs out i'd definitely raise them accordingly. i say i would because i'm going to do some renovations next year so having someone else living there probably won't work out.
     
  4. I think she should have asked you to pay half the utilities in the first place, and it's fair that you pay them now. Especially since things are going to be tight until she gets another job. I agree, though, it was poor planning for her to quit her job before getting another one. Make sure that she can keep up with the house payments so both of you aren't finding a new place to live in the future!
     
  5. the amount of rent i'm paying is definitely not below market value. when i first moved in, i was told that rather than paying utilities separately and writing her multiple checks, she would include it in the rent so i could pay her 1 check each month and make it easier for both of us.

    i guess what upsets me most is that this all came out of no where. as a tenant, i don't feel it's fair for her to suddenly change things because her financial situation is now different.

    thanks for the advice ladies. i hope we can come to some agreement.
     
  6. Suggest a compromise. Utilities are going up, and if she has quit her job, then she does need extra money.

    However, you are only renting a room, and if there are rooms, and things in rooms, that you seldom if ever use, then it would make more sense to figure out a percentage.

    Depending on what runs on gas, and whether there is a big difference in the amount of hot water, etc that the two of you use, half might be reasonable.

    On the other hand, if you take your wash home, or only use cold water, and seldom cook anything, while she cooks a lot and washes in hot and warm, etc, then a percentage would be fairer there, too.

    Because this is exactly the kind of issue that can wreak havoc on roomate relationships, you might want to approach the whole thing with some sensitivity because she will be going through a lot of anxiety until she finds another job, not only about utilities, but everything else.

    You don't want to make her feel she is between a rock and a hard place, but at the same time, on the off chance that she does have leads on other people who might be interested in your room, and even willing to pay more than you pay, plus half the utilities, no negotiation necessary, you want to make yourself as attractive a tenant as possible, at least until YOU can consider what other housing options you might have, if it comes to that.

    So the question is not entirely about what is fair.

    It should be, but human nature being what it is, it's about doing what you can with the goal of minimizing stress - and expenses - for both of you!
     
  7. if she said that utilities were already included in the rent, then you should really call her out on that! she signed a contract with you and those were the terms of the contract that she proposed. tell her to lower your rent to market rate and then you'll help her with the utilities! also, if you do not use the tv, don't pay for it! just pay for the utilities that you both use, like water, gas, electric, etc. it's really not fair to you for her to put her financial burden on you.
     
  8. well if they're supposed to be included rather than you just not paying for them then she seems to be trying to charge for them twice and that's not really fair :confused1:

    my contract sets out what the monthly rent is (weekly rent x 4.33) and what utilities are (tv, phone, internet, gas, electicity, manintenance, water...) and then gives a total sum payable per month. if yours does that then she can't ask you to pay utilities again. it wouldn't be outrageous to raise them to the level they've gone up to, but she certainly can't ask you to pay them twice.
     
  9. I agree!
     
  10. Oh and yes of course she should abide by the terms of the agreement, but the reality is that it all depends on whether it will be easier for her to get what she needs - a tenant who pays more, or for you to get what you need - housing that you can afford.