I have two roommates and when it comes time to pay rent and other bills we all have accumulated together, they "conveniently" don't seem to have the money at the moment. I've let it slide often enough that it has become routine. How can I tactfully get them to start paying their share of the bills and rent? Your response will be greatly appreciated! Thanks.
By Lisa from Orange, CA
You are being taken advantage of by your friends. How many times must it happen before you stand up for yourself?
I will assume that the living arrangement is desired by all and your living alone is not an option, so consider how you will feel, when, not if, the bills are left unpaid, or worse yet YOU are left to pay them alone! Put your foot down and have a serious talk with your friends. Set a date, visibly on a calendar you can all agree to, and start sharing the responsibility of turning in the payments for these bills. They are easier to ignore if a person never sees the bill, makes out the check, and takes it to the office. It is time to reestablish the team work issues and tell them verbally how they are making you feel. You're not a carpet, so stop lying down to take it!
These are words much like my mother told me when I didn't want to talk to my room mates! And it worked, but not before I got to pay the whole $600.00 phone bill all by my little lonesome. Confrontation is difficult, NOT impossible.
Since you can't teach responsibility (that was their parent's job) you can show consequences. Hope these suggestions I use or have used give you some ideas. Sounds like you have to start from the beginning and get together to re-establish the rules. You might put a white board somewhere where everyone will see it! Maybe by the front door the first 3 months? Write "Rent due in 10 days, July 00 at 9am". Then every morning change # of days (you could also put "Right to live here due in 10 days") and "Let me know prior to due date if you think you will be late and we will all work together to find a way".
For consequences well my kids were charged $1.00 (Ha) for each day late, but you all are in the real world so what ever your landlord wants as late fee will have to paid per diem by the late ones. Doesn't matter if you covered for them and got the rent in on time, that money is now due to you! If after 3 months they are still late then you will have to lay down the law and they will have to find a roommate to replace them (be sure to put that in the agreement). This is now a business! Love ya, but you gave your word and #1 we/I just can't afford carrying you and #2 I don't want to loose our friendship, but I'm holding in anger.
Write down whatever you agree on and sign it! If you know your landlord well enough he/she could sign as witness. Think of judge judy and what proof she will want lol
The utilities and other bills, should go on the white board too with amounts and due date. Whoever has their name on the utilities is the one whose credit is in jeopardy. If possible each roommate should have the bills in their name for 3 or 4 months each and let them feel the stress of not being able to buy a car or anything in the future!
Oh, I do ramble and I don't mean to get all technical as if you didn't know what to do, but I am anal retentive :-> good luck! Dahl
Well to give them a nudge on the sly, keep track of when bills usually come in and how long before they are due. If you are the one who usually gets the mail when the bills arrive you can easily start telling them such and such bill arrived about a week before it usually does and tell them it is due about a week before it usually is. They probably don't pay attention to when the bills "usually" show up and will take your word for it.
You can try the hard ball approach as an option. Tell them when a bill shows up, tell them you have your part of the bill, if the bill is late and a late charge is applied they will cover it. If the service is turned off they will pay the price for it being turned back on. Only fair, you're doing your part. You just have to show them the consequences.
Last option would be to find another place that needs a room mate and move out. Let them work it out between them.
One thing you can do is to try to set up a system to collect on each payday. We had a separate account to pay all those bills when I had roommates in college. The bills probably don't fluctuate from month to month that much so you could have them set up direct deposit every two weeks, which is how most people seem to get paid. It's too late now, but this would be good to set up in advance at the beginning.
For now, I would just level with them and tell them that it isn't working for you. I would also get any utilities out of your name so they are not your responsibility. Trust me, when you go to buy a house and you find out that you are denied the loan because of past credit issues, whether or not they are your fault, you will be very sorry.
Worst case scenario, look for more trustworthy roommates. It is hard enough to live with other people and split up the chores, etc. without having to foot the bills too. A contract isn't a bad idea, neither is a fine for late payments.
Tell them the late person will be responsible for the whole house utility bill, rent, what ever the next month. Have everyone sign a statement, notarize it. what ever you have to do.
Phone? get your own cell phone with your family, same plan. You can have the utility bills put in all their names, not just yours.
It sounds like they are renting from you. Do not renew the lease with them. Tell them ahead of time that they have bad credit with you and if they want to stay they must always pay on time. Do not lease to them by the year, but by the month so you can throw them out. This is wrong of them to treat you this way and I would show them this page. Do not put up with this.
There's nothing to be tactful about! If you could share who's name(s) is/are on the lease and who's name(s) the utilities are under I can give you better advice, not only as a former landlord but also many years as a tenant (room mate and not) myself. Please share more details for your situation.
I wouldn't hurt your feelings for the world, but you set a bad precedent by "letting it slide" in the past. Dr Phil says you teach people how to treat you.
You've gotten some great advice by those in better position to know legalities. I know that until you get truly sick and tired of being everyone's willing little carpet and speak out, the pattern won't change. For your own sake, speak out before you do as I did and scream instead!
If they're not on the lease all is not lost. Simply meet with all of them at once. Remind them of the agreement and tell them as a group that your disappointed.
Also add: I don't think your taking advantage of our friendship, so what's going on? Then sit back and listen.
If not on the lease, let them know you can't continue to let this slide and need promptly. A landlord or bank wouldn't put up with excuses and you have a bill to pay.