Updates: “A Very Frustrated College Student” Responds

updatesIt’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “A Very Frustrated College Student” who wrote in last week about her roommate who essentially let her slob of a boyfriend move in despite his contributing nothing to rent and bills. Her update below:

Thank you for the advice!

I have sat down with my roommate and have spoken to her about some of the issues about her boyfriend not doing things in the house such as not doing dishes or even bothering to scrape his plate before placing it in the sink, and she replied saying that I do that as well. However, the only time I place things in the sink with anything on them is if I’m soaking a hard-to-scrub pan or pot. Patrick has since been cleaner about the urine which is nice and even did dishes for the first time today! Unfortunately, he left tons of old food and stains on them so I placed them back in the sink to clean them later. My roommate then approached me about how I haven’t done dishes in, in her words, “God knows how long”….. it’s been four days.

I would LOVE to talk to my landlord about it, but he made it very clear he wasn’t looking to rent to college students and did not want to have to parent us over disputes. He would 100% skip the mess of dealing with it and just ask us to leave. My roommate is also thinking of staying rather than move out once the lease is up, so that’s another problem. I sat down and talked with both her and her boyfriend about summer plans; he said he was staying here, to which I replied that’s fine but he HAS to spilt all expenses with us three ways. He said that he would do his best. I told him that, no, he has to pay or he has to leave, no excuses. Everything is in my name and I usually pay on my card and then am given cash by my roommate. But I have a feeling Patrick is not going to pay, and at this point I am looking for another apartment.

I am beyond sad to have to leave this amazing place, but I’m not one for confrontation and this will just spiral if I try to talk to them about it. It will not just be an argument between my roommate, her bf, and me, but instead it will spread throughout our friend groups and Patrick adds quite the flare to things. I’ve decided to pick my battles and just move once this lease ends.

Thanks, A Defeated College Student

I think you’re making the right decision, as hard as it is to leave a great apartment. One thing I’d advise going forward though: If you’re going to draw a line in the sand with roommates regarding domestic cleanliness and tidiness, you might not want to let your dishes pile up for four days before washing them!


If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, seriously? Four days? You let dishes pile up for FOUR DAYS? Talk about a pot meeting kettle. Or in this case — pig meeting slob! Yikes… just yikes!

    1. Bittergaymark says:

      This was me. Sorry. Log in issues.

      1. We knew it was you ?

  2. Bittergaymark says:

    Yeah… yikes! Four days? You let the dishes pile up for FOUR days after complaining about the messiness of others? Um, hello! Pot, meet kettle! Or in this case pig, meet slob! 😉

  3. ele4phant says:

    Does your college have resources for tenant’s rights? Mine did. I think that’s common – lots of young people are renting for the first time and don’t know their rights, so many colleges set up resources to help navigate when you are being taken advantage of.

    Even if you’re college doesn’t have such resources, maybe the city you are in does. Again, I know the city I live in provides resources for tenants – maybe call the department that handles code compliance and see what they say. Or maybe there are non-profits in your city that handle tenants rights and provide legal advice.

    If you are on a lease, right? If so your landlord cannot just ask you to leave. That is a legally binding contract in which both parties have obligations; he can’t just willy nilly decide to dismiss you unless you are in violation of that contract. Is a third person moving in grounds for him to break that lease and kick you all out? I’m not sure, I don’t think so, but again, I would advise you to go find some resources about what your rights are. I don’t think you have to just lay down and take it on this.

    It is 100% bshit that he wouldn’t want to intervene here. He made a legally binding agreement with just two people in – this isn’t an interpersonal dispute or him having to parent you, it’s his business.

    I bet there is a clause in your lease about how many nights an overnight guest is allowed to stay before they have to be on the lease – that’s pretty boiler plate language in my experience. Take your lease to a knowledgeable source and see what they say. I bet you can go to your landlord, tell him the situation, and point out that clause, and make him deal with it. Again, he’s just as legally on the hook here as you are.

    The exact same thing happened to me when I was 19, and like you, I didn’t really do anything but fight with my roommate about it. A decade later I realize I had rights I didn’t exercise and I’m pissed at myself that I just rolled over. You have rights. I’m sure you can find resources. You don’t have to deal with this.

    1. ele4phant says:

      But also do your dishes once a day man. It’s not that hard when you do it regularly.

  4. Bittergaymark says:

    Eh… It is a bit much to expect the landlord to solve the pretty problems of millennials too dumb to figure out whose turn it is to wash the fucking dishes? PS — They have ALL willfully and flagrantly violated the lease and thus he can break it for them having allowed a third to squat there… They don’t have much going for them as far a tenants rights. It would be a legal eviction.

  5. anonymousse says:

    I agree about the dishes! Wow, four days is a lot.

    The landlord can’t and probably wouldn’t ask you to leave even if he didn’t sign a legally binding contract with you. Unless there’s damage or drugs or you aren’t paying rent it’s far easier to keep the place filled with paying tenants. He’d rather keep you on than advertise the place, meet with tenants, do credit checks, etc.

    As hard as it is to leave a nice apartment, sometimes living alone in not such a nice place is much, much better.

    1. ele4phant says:

      Totally – I’m 99.99% sure this landlord isn’t going to kick them all out, even if he legally could, because he’d prefer not to deal with any complications.

      Dealing with your conflict is still going to be way easier for him than replacing you as tenants and potentially losing money while the place is empty for a bit.

      He knows you are college kids that don’t know what’s what, so he’s taking advantage of your naivety and inexperience by telling you he doesn’t want to deal with “parenting” you. He just wants his rent checks with no fuss. But I promise you, he’ll deal with fuss if he has to to keep your rent money.

      It is super super common for landlords in college towns to take advantage of college students that don’t know better.

      Again – look into what resources are available to you as tenant, either through your school, your city, or local non-profits. They are out there.

      1. dinoceros says:

        I think it’s more likely his response would fall somewhere in between dealing with their drama and kicking them out. Most likely, he’d just tell them it wasn’t his problem. As much as landlords like to keep tenants and not deal with finding more, they are fairly used to it if they are near a college — even the best tenants are going to be moving on in a couple years. Keeping them around for another year isn’t worth mediating their friend-fight.

  6. LisforLeslie says:

    Landlord cares if the bills get paid and the damage is minimal. If the lack of cleaning leads to rats – the landlord cares. If the boyfriend leaves the water on all day – the landlord doesn’t care that it was the boyfriend per se, it’s whomever let the idiot into the apartment.

    OP – you have to move. And you have to set ground rules with future roommates.

    The last roommate I had was 20 years ago – because she was awful and I will never do that shit again.

    1. LisforLeslie says:

      Landlord doesn’t care… sigh long day…

  7. Just to chime in on the 4 days thing – sounds like those were dishes the boyfriend did poorly so the LW put them back in the sink to re-wash? Clearly, 4 days is a long time, but it sounds like these probably fall into the roommate’s responsibility – if the boyfriend doesn’t do a good job with dishes, it’s not the other roommate’s job to do them!

    1. dinoceros says:

      I wondered that, but I feel like the LW would have said “those weren’t my dishes” instead of “it’s been 4 days.” Otherwise, I’d be curious to know how a person feeds themselves without having any dishes for 4 days. I get they’re in college, but when you live off campus, you still have to use dishes, even if it’s just for ramen.

  8. Dishes or not, that boyfriend is living there rent-free. Clever decision to move on!

  9. Why not just use paper plates and plastic cutlery? Of course, then you’ll probably let the trash pile up instead of the dishes….

    1. Yeah, I don’t recommend fostering laziness at continued cost of our planet’s health. It’s how we got in this problem – our planet disintegrating before our eyes – in the first place!

  10. I agree with Wendy. Please do not promote solutions which promote trash and filling landfills due to laziness. We already have enough of that already

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