Wedding Woes

Roommate politics

Dear Prudence,
I’ve lived in a lovely two-story apartment with three roommates for six years. We split the utilities evenly. This past month, we received a significant price hike due to the cold snap. I expected the gas bill to be high, which it was, but I was shocked to see that the electric bill was twice as much as last January. One of my roommates suggested the cause was his girlfriend. When she comes over, it’s often for a few days at a time, and she often leaves the space heater running. I don’t blame her, of course, but she doesn’t pay rent or offer to help with the utilities. I asked him if I could talk to her about the bill, and he agreed. My savings have been depleted this year due to medical issues, and it was a real strain to pay the outsize bill.

So I sent a message to her on Facebook: “I know the higher electric bill is partially due to the cold, but as you use space heaters when you’re in the house, and most of us don’t, I wanted to see if you would be willing to chip in on our electric bill this month!” She didn’t respond. My roommate told me that he thought I was going to ask her to use the space heaters less, not contribute to the bill, and that my message “crossed a line.” I apologized to him for the misunderstanding and then sent a separate message apologizing to her. She still has not responded. So, just how badly did I screw up? Should I have waited to talk about the problem when we were in person? Was it rude or reasonable to ask for money point-blank? And if a similar problem comes up in the future, which it might, should I go back to asking my roommate to deal with his girlfriend directly?
—I Crossed a Line (and the Line Won)

Re: Roommate politics

  • lovesclimbinglovesclimbing Alaska
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
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    You never should have talked to her directly. He is your roommate, not her. It's his responsibility, IMO, to cover his guests who are adding additional expenses to the monthly rent.

    Apologize to him, and her in person the next time you see her, but also talk to him again about the increased usage and be clear that you aren't going to pay for her electric use. 
    This. I read this and was surprised she didn't tell the roommate to pony up. He's the one who lives there. 

    If the roommate lived by himself and the girlfriend came over and used lots of electricity, he would be paying the bill or asking his girlfriend himself to chip in. 

    mrsconn23STARMOON44charlotte989875
  • Never would I thought to go after the gf and ask for money from her! The roommate, who admitted it was likely his gf fault, should pony up. Whether or not he seeks anything from the gf is up to him. He should also remind her not to leave the space heater on, etc. Not to mention I hope they aren't just leaving the space heater on and leaving in case of a danger. 

    LW should have dealt only with roommate
    STARMOON44charlotte989875InLoveInQueensCharmedPam
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    member
    You never should have talked to her directly. He is your roommate, not her. It's his responsibility, IMO, to cover his guests who are adding additional expenses to the monthly rent.

    Apologize to him, and her in person the next time you see her, but also talk to him again about the increased usage and be clear that you aren't going to pay for her electric use. 
    Ditto. 

    When I was dating my ex, I used to run the air when I would go over. I refused to stay in a house that was 100 degrees inside at night. But then I chipped in for the bill because I am also not a dick. I’m curious why LW didn’t just talk to his roommate directly. 


    image
    charlotte989875
  • You never should have talked to her directly. He is your roommate, not her. It's his responsibility, IMO, to cover his guests who are adding additional expenses to the monthly rent.

    Apologize to him, and her in person the next time you see her, but also talk to him again about the increased usage and be clear that you aren't going to pay for her electric use. 
    This. I read this and was surprised she didn't tell the roommate to pony up. He's the one who lives there. 

    If the roommate lived by himself and the girlfriend came over and used lots of electricity, he would be paying the bill or asking his girlfriend himself to chip in. 
    OK, that was my thought too.  Prudie's response is to not apologize to either person and I was all sorts of, "WHHHAATTT?!"  

    Now roommate should have offered outright to pay the difference and it's also his responsibility to tell the GF to knock off the heater usage (or at least, he should be 'monitoring' it) if he doesn't want to pay the increased price. 

    ALSO, how big is this heater? I have a small heater in my office that I use while I'm working, but I cannot imagine it uses that much energy to increase our bill substantially.  GF should look into a more energy efficient heater.  

    LW and roommate handled this badly, and that is not the GF's fault at all.  I wonder if LW has issues with GF living there part time and not contributing financially to anything.  LW's found a 'gotcha' with the heater situation. 
    STARMOON44TrixieJess
  • This reminds me of an issue we heard about through a friend and it was a fucking nightmare.

    G rents the place from his dad, and had K move in to help with bills.
    Few months later, G gets a g/f and she often stayed at their place. She often helped with groceries, but she had her own place she was paying so G often payed extra to utilities if it was higher {which it often wasn't because she tried to be cautious}

    K one day goes to G and says that since there's 3, it should be split 3 ways. G explains bills haven't changed, except groceries - which she helped with. If bills changed, G payed the extra.
    It was a fight until she ended up moving in.

    Long story short, LW shouldn't have gone to the gf - should have said "if she wants to use it, fine but you should be paying extra" to the roommate
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  • This is why you need to figure out what the arrangement is.

    If you're aware that your GF's space heater is jacking up the bill then own it.   Literally.  

    LW crossed a line but the roommate is a colossal douche if he's not offering to pony up additional funds when it appears that the extra electrical bill is from appliances that his non roommate GF is using.  

    This is why cohabitating with others sucks.
    mrsconn23charlotte989875
  • banana468 said:
    This is why you need to figure out what the arrangement is.

    If you're aware that your GF's space heater is jacking up the bill then own it.   Literally.  

    LW crossed a line but the roommate is a colossal douche if he's not offering to pony up additional funds when it appears that the extra electrical bill is from appliances that his non roommate GF is using.  

    This is why cohabitating with others sucks.
    Bolded. I have legit never had a roommate except for M {and we were dating when moved in together} and I swear I'd never get one.
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  • I think, originally the LW should have dealt with roomate directly, had roommate pay extra and then roommate works out his own shit with GF, BUT in this case where LW said "hey I'm gonna talk to your GF", roommate should have expected this is how it would go. I consider roommate equally to blame by being like, "yeah just text my GF"

    One time I lived in a "house is divided and one person has a GF" situation and we came up with a solution that worked amazingly and I want to share it since I literally think everyone should do it this way. Basically, we decided that each room and the common area would have a "rent" - so if a 4 BR apartment is $5000 a month, each bedroom costs $1000 a month, and the common area costs $1000 a month. Each room rent is paid in a way that the couple determines, but the common area is split by the number of residents in the whole house, so if I lived with a boyfriend in 1 room we'd pay 1400, whereas someone who lived alone in their room would pay $1200. Because, yeah, there is a difference in living in a house with 5 people and a house with 4 people and I think it's fair that rent should reflect that
    charlotte989875eileenrob
  • What I find super odd about this whole thing is that the LW even sent a note to the g/f in the first place.  This would have been my reaction to the end of the same conversation (with roommate):

    "What?  No, dude.  That's YOUR g/f.  You need to pay X difference, whenever our utilities are higher because of her.  That's between YOU ALL if she reimburses you."

    Then it's up to roommate to either keep ponying up the difference or HE can have a discussion with his g/f about not using the space heater as extensively.

    As an aside, now I'm wondering if a space heater uses a lot more electricity than I think it does.  A large window unit with just a/c can use a typical outlet.  But if it has a/c and heat, it needs to be a 220V.  So perhaps it does!

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    charlotte989875lovesclimbingInLoveInQueens
  • What I find super odd about this whole thing is that the LW even sent a note to the g/f in the first place.  This would have been my reaction to the end of the same conversation (with roommate):

    "What?  No, dude.  That's YOUR g/f.  You need to pay X difference, whenever our utilities are higher because of her.  That's between YOU ALL if she reimburses you."

    Then it's up to roommate to either keep ponying up the difference or HE can have a discussion with his g/f about not using the space heater as extensively.

    As an aside, now I'm wondering if a space heater uses a lot more electricity than I think it does.  A large window unit with just a/c can use a typical outlet.  But if it has a/c and heat, it needs to be a 220V.  So perhaps it does!

    That's what I don't get.   The lease is between the roommates.   So the roommate needs to acknowledge that it's the SO who is increasing the expenses and HE is allowing this to happen.   She's not on the lease.   They are HIS EXPENSES then.   

    That's what would irritate me.   You don't just add a fourth person into the mix and assume that additional expenses would just be divided by 3.   That makes you a dick. 

    But the LW also doesn't seem to understand tact and the agreement either.   Makes me wonder how old these people are. 
    charlotte989875lovesclimbingInLoveInQueens
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