How should you deal when your housemate is late paying bills? Should you scream, throw a temper tantrum, or walk around silently resenting the person who hasn’t paid their bill? Nope, none of those are going to help the situation. Remember to be aware of your needs and communicate them effectively.
Ask for the Money
What you do need to do is to ask for the money in a clear, non-apologetic, and non-angry tone. Do not text or email. Look your housemate in the eye and say, “You owe ________ for _______. ” And wait for a response. Breath. Wait.
How is your housemate going to respond? That depends on the situation and their attitude towards money. The best response is for the housemate to simply sit down and write a check or arrange for online payment right away. They may simply have forgotten.
The second best is a promise of payment in the future.
This is now a conversation. You need to find out when and how your housemate is going to pay their bill. Ask them to name the day and make a commitment to pay you. Maybe mention it again before that day comes. Do remind them if they haven’t handed over the money already.
The worst is when your housemate avoids the question either by not being available or by dissembling when asked. What to do in that case? This is hard, because you have to make a decision. Are you willing and able to support your housemate? If they have fallen on hard times and aren’t earning enough to pay their bills you may be able to be generous and supportive. You may want to do this. You should consider how long you can manage this. This should not be a loan, loans will weigh heavily between you and your housemate. So this is support you are giving – if you want to do this. You may not be able to afford to offer such support and you may not want to. That’s totally okay.
Going Separate Ways
If, however, your housemate is just being irresponsible towards the household expenses, then it is time to go separate ways. Don’t let the situation drag on and get worse. When housemates move in they (usually) bring the last month’s rent. That protects you for one month. A person who hasn’t paid their rent and bills within that month is not a housemate, but a freeloader.
In all my years of living with housemates, I only had problems twice. In the first case I was inexperienced. My housemate gave me a check for owed rent as he moved out, but cleaned out the account before I could cash it. In the second case, I allowed someone to move in against my better judgment because I really wanted the rent money. It was a painful mistake.
Most people are responsible about paying their bills. The best protection from a person who is late paying bills and irresponsible is not letting them move in in the first place. Check references. Use the references worksheet. Also collect a security deposit and last month’s rent (if this is legal in your area) as the price for a key to the home. Do not let the issue of money slide. A housemate who has fallen behind on their obligations to the household may never be able to catch up. It’s too bad, but it’s not your fault. Your responsibility is to speak up about what you need. Okay? Got it?
Read more about avoiding sticky situations when sharing housing: Good Intentions Turn Into Housemate Hell , What the Fair Housing Act Means to You In a Housemate Situation
Thank you for your advice. I am currently in a freeloder roommate situation and need advice. The new housemate is a former marine, who moved in at the beginning of this month; he claims that he will be starting a new job at a defense company. He was coming from out or state and needed a place to stay before his work began. We were nice enough to welcome him into our home and allowed him to stay on the couch, the week before the first of the month, since the now, former housemate would be here until the first of this month. As usual, I sent out my request for payment of the bills that I would be handling within the next few weeks, including the one for cable, city services and the maid. My brother, the owner of the house, had received the first and last month rent from the new tenant. Things seem normal when the new tenant responded that he would pay his share. At first he said he had sent it to my brother, after a week later and my brother still not seeing it in his account. I sent the new tenant, Z, a message again asking for the money, he said that he was going to open a new account at the bank where I banked so that he could send it. It is now more than another week later, and in the whole time, he ha been avoiding me and even though we live in the same house, I have literally not seen him in this whole time. I want to press the issue; but, others, including my mother and brother, who own the house asked me to be patient until his new job started. I am sure that he will not be receiving his first paycheck within this month, if he will be starting on the 19th.
He seemed like a nice enough guy, and I thought the military would teach him a thing or two about responsibility, courage and honor; but, the way he has been acting these past couple of weeks, leaves one to question if he has either! This is the second former marine that we have had in the house and both times they have given us problems. While I respect his service to our county and all, I really am tired with dealing with parasites. The rest of us pay our share, even if it is sometimes a week or two later than we are supposed to. I just don’t want to set. Bad precedence for him to think that there is no issue. I am living paycheck to paycheck myself and can’t afford to be burdened by his obligations. Please help, he has already been advised that there will be a convenience fee for his delinquency.
Thank you so much!
Apologies for delayed response. He needs to move out. He’s a deadbeat and it isn’t going to get better. Once people start being dishonest about money it never gets fixed. I hope you have already moved him out. Please, please take out class – as soon as we can fix it will be a sliding scale price. You’ll learn so much to avoid this in the future.
Hope this helps.
Dear Anna marie, I got awarded the house after my 23 yr marriage ended. My 20 yr old son lives with me and pays me rent. Realizing we needed more money we decided to get a roommate. I made a huge mistake in not doing a back ground check and getting a roommate agreement signed before she moved in. She moved in the 2nd week of July. Things are ok and she has paid rent on time until this month. Her rent is $450.00 a month due on the 7th of the month. Just before the 7th she said she was short on funds due to loosing hours at work when she was sick. I let it slide because she said she would pay me in a few days. A few days turned into the middle of the month and me having to chase her down to get it. I went to her job as she said she had $100.00 of it but when I got there she only had $60.00. 5 days later after going MIA she gives me $300.00. Now I’m trying to find her to get the other $90.00. She stays gone more than she’s here. I don’t know what to think of her disapperances for weeks at a time. Meanwhile my mortgage payment is late. Can I start charging late fees for everyday she’s late? Also can I get her to sign a roommate agreement in a moving forward situation? My son thinks she’s got a drug and gambling problem but I’m not about to bring that up.
I’m sorry to say this but it is time for her to move out. Ugly and uncomfortable. In my experience once a housemate is late with money it doesn’t get better. Pay your mortgage with whatever you have. Please read my book before finding your next housemate.
About 6 months ago a friend from work needed a place to stay with his significant other , informed them that the rent was $450 for the both of them and no utilities. The rent is due 1st – 6th of the month any time after that there is late fees. And they have been late for the last two months and it completely disrupts my budget schedule and the last two months I was obligated to pay the late fees and it’s so upsetting! And on top of that they don’t clean their mess , they never take the trash out when they fill it , takes them a day or two to clear all their dishes, etc I just don’t know what to do!
Hello. That’s really awful. Sounds like it is time for them to leave and for you to find act responsible housemate. seriously.
HTH. and please read my book first!!!
I allowed my relative to rent a large room for 9 months for 300 no utilities, my rent is 1050. For six months she paid on time. On the seventh month it got to be the 6th and no rent. So happens my bank account was hacked that week and I closed the account, so I thought maybe she tried to pay and couldn’t. I sent her a text letting her know the account was closed, at which point she told me she wasn’t paying until the 15th, because she helped her family pay bills, and other excuses. So I asked what happened and explained it was okay this time. When I got home she was mad and told me the money was in my room. I was so confused, thought she didn’t have it, then she said it was her food money. So I told her it was okay i could wait this time, she refused to take her “food money” and she now she is mad. I sent her a text apologising for any misunderstanding, if she took my message the wrong way, she never replied. What should I do? I don’t want an uncomfortable living situation.
Sounds like she’s embarrassed and upset about money too. Stop texting! It’s way too easy to misunderstand one another. You have to TALK to her to clear the air. What do you say? “I’m confused, I can tell you are upset and I don’t want to live in an uncomfortable situation.” then let her respond. Here’s some guidance . Is she an otherwise okay housemate or is this an incident following various little issues? Is money going to start being an issue for her? Reading your post she may think that the rent is voluntary for you – and resent that she has to pay anything at all. That’s not fair to you. $300 a month is quite generous on your part, you could have made it $525 for splitting the house. Do not let her take advantage of the situation if you will resent it! Maybe it might be time for her to move out if it can’t get resolved. Keep that in your back pocket – dont’ say it unless you can’t find a good understanding and peaceful reconciliation. Good luck.
I hope you have the time to get back to me on this.
I live in a flat which I’ve been sharing for more than a year with my boyfriend and his mate. We pay the rent separately. Now, we received letters from the estate agency informing us that my boyfriend’s mate has made a history out of paying late.
The landlord emailed us all and said if he doesn’t pay by the end of the week, she will take legal action against us and even terminate the lease. I know the law gives her the opportunity to evict all of us, but what can I do to avoid this since me and my boyfriend have always paid on time?
Ugh. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t know what recourse you might have with the landlord. Perhaps a friendly conversation? Something has to happen and it might be that you ask your bf’s mate to move out so that you can continue? The fact that the landlord has accepted three separate checks for the rent might mean that you can avoid being evicted but I think once you’ve gotten to the threat things have been going sour for awhile. Your bf’s mate has to pay. AND you need to put your feet down about him being late on payments. Good luck.
Hoping you can provide some guidance/advice.
I recently moved into an apartment (lease take over). I was unaware of the rent payment history/issue with the current roommate I moved in with. I’ve been paying my portion of the rent online and on time however, my roommate has been consistently late with her payments and most recently had a check bounce. I looked at our account online and noticed this isn’t something new and that she has always been paying rent late.
A few weeks ago, the leasing office sent us an email saying that this was the second time a payment was returned and they were going to change our payment method to money order moving forward and that if we didn’t pay the pending amount, then they would proceed with court filings if not paid by the next day COB. At the time of the email, I was overseas on vacation so I reached out to my roommate asking what happened and if she could expedite payment and in full asap.. She replies saying that she will not be able to make the payments until TEN days later and that the next month’s payment will also be late as she’s having issues with her bank. I’m not sure how to handle this. The leasing office will not segregate accounts. She’s caused me a huge inconvenience by having to make payments via money order and with the late payments. I am now back from vacation and will be asking to meet with her to discuss. Please advice. Thank you!
As you know, I hate it when this sort of stuff happens. I’m sorry to say that my best advice it to start looking for a new place to live. It’s very rare that someone who has messed up badly on managing money is suddenly going to get it straightened out. It’s bad enough that the leasing office is requiring money orders, after all. IF she’s repentent and willing to work on how she manages her finances I heartily recommend she take a look at YNAB also known as You Need A Budget. It’s helped lots of people. Good luck!
In the house that I am living I have been responsible for paying the Internet bills and another flatmate has been responsible for paying the water bills. It turns oh that throughout the year she has not been paying the water bills on time and now she is asking us to pay an excess of over £1000 for water. I don’t know if she is keeping the money for herself or she’s has been charged this much for continuous late payment. Can I simply refuse to send her anymore money? Throughout the year I have been sending her money for water, but now I don’t even know where that money went or why it was not paid on time. I’m looking for advice on what to do in this situation. Thanks, Ida
uh-oh. I do hate it when money becomes an issue. whose name is on the bill? who owns the house/flat? answers to these questions would tell me how much latitude you have. if its her name and she hasn’t been paying I think you have no obligation to help her with late payments. This is likely to fracture the relAtionship. you mention others. better all of you sit down and talk. you have a right to see the bill all of you. do find the info on my site about managing conflict and yes the worksheets. good luck. please tell me what happens.
Hi there Ann, I’m hoping you have the time to get back to me. My boyfriend and I have signed a contract with our landlord for a year, the rent is quite expensive so we decided to get basement tenants to move in. They are my boyfriend’s friends, a couple. We signed our own one year contract with them in January. Over the past 8 weeks we have had multiple issues with them, and the main one being the girlfriend is not paying her payments on time. She leaves them until the very last hour and yesterday got her payment in late. I am in charge of the bills and the rent and utilities are under my name. So if I don’t manually send the bills in 3 business days before 8:00pm. It will be late, affect my credit, and consequently will be paying a late fee for every day it’s late. My boyfriend and I are getting very frustrated as we have tried to accommodate for many of their needs. What can we do? As well is there any way to breach the contract? What are the consequences? I’m unfamiliar with breaching contracts as I have never had to do it. If you could give me some insight and pointers it would be very much appreciated. Thank you.
Oh, I hate it when this happens. Sounds like you all four need to sit down and have an open conversation about how you are living together – what’s working and what’s not working. You mention “multiple issues” – my suspicion is that you didn’t have a full and complete conversation about the arrangement BEFORE agreeing to live together. I wonder if they have multiple issues with you? I’m hoping you all like and respect each other in the main and are interested in finding a good way to live together without conflict and tension. Sometimes people dont’ know why something is important (because you haven’t told them and they can’t read your mind) sometimes they are being insufferable. I have no way of knowing that. Do take a look at this. See if you can clear the air about what’s in the way… Maybe a direct deposit situation would work? But first an attempt at a good conversation and exploration of how to live together better than you have so far. Not fun, but so worthwhile. I recommend you dont’ have alchohol at the conversation – but maybe after? Hope that this helps.
I live with my boyfriend (who is on the lease) and we have 3 other roommates, only one of them are on the lease as well. We have a problem with one of the roommates. Originally we had told him living with us was temporary and at the time he had a steady job. He has since lost his job and just hangs out all day getting drunk and playing video games. He pays his bills extremely late. Also he touches our things and eats our food, when we confront him about it he lies so we have to give him the benefit of the doubt. My boyfriend and the other roommate on the lease enjoy not having to pay as much for rent because he’s here but complain all the time about how late he pays rent and utilities. I’m not on the lease so I have no say in the matter. Not sure what I should or can do?
I thought I had replied to this..?? This is a tough position to be in. I think it’s time for the two leaseholders to ask him to leave. After all his staying with you was supposed to be temporary. Not your problem that he lost his job. But only you can change you. You can move out. (yes, I know that sucks and is difficult) That’s one of your options. You can just watch. You can suggest that the two take care of the situation. I’m wondering what has happened in the last 10 days since you posted your query.
I am in college and I live in a house with 2 other girls. Our names are all on the lease but our parents all pay our rent. I deemed myself the most responsible before move-in, so I put all the utilities in my name and pay them in full then get the money from them. I have a full savings account from my summer job that I live off of, and both of them have part-time jobs. One has been very good about paying all her bills on time, with the exception of being a few days late once or twice. I have arranged a policy for late bills where they pay a dollar a day per bill that’s late. The other roommate has been very irresponsible about her bills and it is a consistent problem. She lets them pile up, “interest” and all, and currently, she owes me over $400. I have talked to her many times about it. Right after Christmas, I talked to her and she seemed very apologetic and said that she truly was appreciative of me handling the bills and fronting her share. She said her parents had given her money for her birthday/Christmas and she would pay what she owed and be better about it in the new year. She didn’t pay all of what she owed and immediately went back to her old ways. Anytime I bring it up, she throws me $50 to shut me up and proceeds to not pay the rest. Anyways, neither of us can move out, we already signed the lease for next year as well. I want to approach her with a few of her close friends so that she really understands how serious this is. I would love some advice.
Ouch. This is not a good position to be in. Yes, I think you need to arrange a meeting with her and your other housemate. I don’t know about her close friends. You are in the best position to know if that would be helpful. Her parents maybe. The thing is that you’ve accepted the $50 and let her get away with it. So she thinks (on some level) it’s okay. How much money does she owe you right now? To the penny? The problem with getting in arrears is that it’s hard to get caught up. So … Yes a meeting. 1) State your observation 2) how it makes you feel 3) what you need 4) your request. – which is to be paid back completely immediately. You might point out to her that not paying her bills is effectively stealing from you.
You also need at BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) – I have this idea from a book about dealing with conflict. It’s clear that the current arrangement to pay you the utilities as they come due is not working. Have you been there long enough to have an average cost per month? Tell her what you need at the top of the month and if it’s an overage you can pay her back later. And maybe reaching out to her parents who after all are paying the lease. There is such a thing as automatic payments and direct deposit. Maybe she should set this up to pay you regularly? These are some thoughts. Also though there is a lease involved, you can’t continue to live with someone who isn’t paying her share of the bills. I imagine that your landlord if offered another person to fulfill the lease would be satisfied.?
So those are some thoughts. I hope they are helpful. I hope she learns something about being responsible..
Good luck with it!
I am living in a house with four other people. I and one other roommate (K) have been living in this house for 6 years. All five of us are on the lease. We are all having problems with one of the roommates (L). He has been consistently loud at night (we’re talking bass blasting, door open) and he lives on the top floor with 3 of us. We have talked to him about the noise at least 15 times. We started nicely, asking him to please turn it down and just be aware of when people are sleeping, but he continued to ignore us. I have gotten more angry with him to try to make him stop but so far it hasn’t worked. All of the times I have talked to him have been in person, and K has talked to him both in person and over text. When she texts him, even when it’s about rent, he will not respond. I collect money for the utilities and he has been late paying about 5 of the 7 months he has lived here. For a while he wouldn’t lock the door (we live in a city) and asked us why we wanted it locked. I had to threaten him with using his damage deposit to install an automatic locking system in order to make him lock it. Our landlord is of no help. Is there any way to kick him out??
I’m so very sorry for your troubles. It’s horrible when there is one bad apple in the barrel. Does ruin it for everyone else. The quick answer is that if he is on the lease AND the landlord is leaving it up to you and won’t be helpful, you don’t have a legal recourse. So what to do? You need an intervention to affect the behavior of this person. Somehow he has to WANT to be nice and live cooperatively or WANT to move out. All three of you need to be in agreement and the four of you need to sit down and talk. Have a house meeting. Make it about everything going on, not just him. I have a quick post on how to deal with conflicts that provides the basic structure. BTW: Texting is a HORRIBLE way to communicate. Is there someone you know who can help moderate/facilitate the discussion? And if he won’t make time for a house meeting, then you can say, “It is clear that you don’t want to live here and you need to move out.” You may have to lose money to get him gone. You also might check if you have a noise ordinance in your location – if he’s breaking it that might be a recourse. But I have slim hope on that. I hope that this helps. It’s an unhappy situation.
Hello Ann, so the situation is that I live with my boyfriend who pays the rent, and I pay for the cable and the internet. My boyfriend has a roommate who he says he’s “good” friends with and for that he doesn’t mind him living with us without paying rent, since he got fired(roommate) and hasn’t had a job for 2 months also hasn’t paid the rent in 2 months. I really want to kick him out, mostly because he doesn’t seem to be taking it serious; drinks everyday for what I can see. During the day he’s gone all day, and comes back home around 5pm, just wastes electricity and just makes a mess everywhere. I know I’m just the girlfriend that lives here with my boyfriend(whose name is one the lease)so i know I don’t have the right to talk to him and ask him to leave.. I don’t know what to do. I have tried many times to explain to my boyfriend that if he was a “good” friend as he says he is, he would help around the house and help install the laminate floor(we’re currently fixing the floor), you know? to repay back what he hasn’t paid but instead I see him just hanging around the house wasting energy and drinking. How am I suppose to think he is looking for a job, if I see him drinking with his nephew for almost 2 weeks straight? Where does he get all the money for the booze.. Help please.
Oh dear. This is a bad situation. To sum up it up, you are living for free (except the Internet and cable) with your boyfriend. He has allowed his good friend to live there as well. You don’t say how long the three of you have been living together. It seems that you are saying you would be okay with the arrangement if you thought that the friend was contributing to the household in some way rather than simply drinking and hanging out. I agree with you that he should help out and that his behavior may be less than helpful for his future. But you can’t change him. Or your boyfriend.
You can change your own behavior. If you don’t want to see him hanging around, go away. Either into another room or by leaving the house/apartment. Don’t fight with your boyfriend about his friend, just be very clear about what you want for yourself. Use I statements. (See this short article on managing conflict.) Don’t fight with the friend either. Go to an Al Anon meeting to get help dealing with living with a drinker. I think that if you find that your boyfriend isn’t caring about how you feel in the situation, you should be asking what kind of relationship you actually have. You need someone to talk to closer than an internet connection. Maybe you can find some older wise person? Good luck!
I purchased my first home in April of 2014 and decided to get a roommate to defray the costs of housing. I took a roommate in in June of 2014 on a verbal agreement and so far it’s worked out well enough considering my lack of due diligence. My roommate is clean and quite, doesn’t drink or smoke and has a full time job. He maintains the house mows the lawn, takes out the trash keeps things clean and even helped me install new floors and doors. However when he moved in he asked if he could split his rent into two monthly payments since he gets paid twice a month. I agreed and for several months this arrangement worked. Then he began not being able to make one of his bi monthly rental payments as agreed asking if he could just pay the full amount on the next due date, which he has. This has happened four times since he has moved in and it concerns me because it creates a headache with my budget and it indicates to me he is not financially stable. I would like your thoughts on this.
My thoughts… Have you said anything to him about your concerns? If not, he has no way of knowing that you are concerned and how it affects you. You need to talk to him about your concerns. I wrote about the basic pattern of how to approach a dicey conversation here. It’s just money.. I mean in our society we have such a complex around money that we don’t talk about it easily. I think he would be of the opinion that since you initially asked for it monthly, that pattern is fine with you. But you adjusted to his twice monthly.. He doesn’t know that, does he? Don’t make more of the facts than you know..(ie. “not financially stable”) No assumptions! Clear the air by talking to him. Let me know how it goes! Peace,
I have lived with 3 people for the past 2 years and we are all about to go our separate ways. I have always paid the bills and collected the money off everyone, but right now I’m owed £70 each from 2 of the housemates, and they move out in 2 days. I am worried that they will simply move out and boycott the payment, and as I am the only one listed on the bills, I worry that I will have no grounds to claim it back.
Furthermore, another bill is due to come out soon and by that point they will be gone.
I have asked them for the money, but I think they will fob me off with excuses. If they don’t pay me, I won’t be able to afford to live, that means no food for at least a month, and I can’t do that.
What should I do?
Can I take them to the small claims court?
I don’t think you can take them to court unless you have some sort of signed document making your arrangement legal. Sigh – this is why I always recommend that the person paying the bills get a security deposit when folks move in. Yes, it’s much harder collecting what one is owed when someone is moving out and thinks they can go scot free. I too have lost money before I got smart about the deposit.
Expect to get paid. Look at them clearly in the eye and say that you are owed money. Don’t be a doormat. Allow yourself to get angry. You expect to have it before each leaves and tell them how much they each owe and what you expect the future bills to be. Ask for it in cash. Something about being firm and clear does help the communication.
Do you have any connection with their employers, friends or family, or future housemates? You might let it be known that they are leaving you with bills unpaid. If your housemates care about their reputation that might cause them to do the honorable thing.
It’s totally infuriating when people squelch on their obligations. I’m angry for you. BTW: You don’t (at least here in the US) have to pay all your bill at once. If your housemates do walk without paying, call the companies and explain the situation. Spread the cost over a period of months.
I am in thag same situation where my housemate is very very delinquent in paying his bills and besides, he uses the electricity and gas the most…puts the a/c when unnecessary and for the longest of time, leaves lights on even when not in use..very confused, don’t know what to do
It’s really, really awful when you get in this situation. I don’t know what the legalities of the situation are: are you both on the lease? Is he? Just you? If he’s simply freeloading…. Have you asked directly for the money he owes? Have you already paid his part? Are the bills in your name? Most likely you need to find a way to NOT be this person’s housemate. One of you needs to move. This is why I think that one person should own the lease and should get a deposit when a new housemate moves in. Your landlord might be sympathetic, you might try getting some help in that direction. However many landlords won’t be helpful and will expect you to sort it out. I wish I had more to offer you. I do have many suggestions about how to avoid getting into this situation in the first place. There are many nice, responsible people out there. Unfortunately not the one you are living with.