Wedding Woes

Let the lease, and relationship, end.

Dear Prudence,

My fiancé and I have been living on separate coasts for over three years. Between the pandemic, my company folding, and my fiancé not finding anything bigger than a shoebox in his area, it didn’t make any sense to sell my house. It does now. My fiancé finally got a townhouse, my new job is completely remote, and I have had offers left in my mail about the house.

My problem is that last year, I let my old college friend “Sara” and her young daughter move in with me after she separated from her dirtbag boyfriend. Sara was struggling both financially and emotionally. She couldn’t afford a place of her own and wanted to keep her daughter in the same school. Her only other option was to move back in with her racist parents (her daughter is biracial and her dad died when she was a baby). We have a legal lease, but I wanted Sara to save money to get back on her feet. The agreement was she would pay for the internet and put the rest of the “rent” in a savings account. A studio here costs $1500 per month. Sara got the entire top floor of my three-bed room house. She should have at least $20K in savings. Instead, she has $200. All this came out in a fight after I told Sara she needed to start looking for a new place since I was planning on selling “everything” at the end of August (my fiancé has much nicer furniture than me). Her lease ends in July.

Sara freaked out and asked me I how could “betray” her like this. I told her I gave her over a year to get back on her feet, but she always knew this was temporary. I get to live my own life. Then the truth came toppling out: Sara had taken on outrageous debt to pay off legal fines I didn’t know she owed, get a car note she couldn’t afford, and “help” out some friends (who can’t pay her back). We screamed at each other. I called her a complete moron, and she accused me of wanting her and her daughter to be homeless. I told her that was her fault—she was a piss poor mother to get her daughter into a position like this. Then she hit me. She didn’t make skin contact, but my glasses went askew. I left and locked myself in my bedroom. Sara kept knocking on my door and crying she was sorry until her daughter came home. We haven’t talked since, other than vague pleasantries.

My fiancé thinks I need to cut Sara a check for $5K to get them out of the house and maybe pay moving and storage costs. Rent has gone sky high in our area. Sara will not be able to afford to keep her daughter here even if give them that. And my friendship to Sara is dead—she lied to me, used me, and hit me. I am still fond of her daughter, and I feel sick about forcing her into the embrace of the family who hates half off what she is. This isn’t my fault, but is it my responsibility? What should I do?

— No Good Deed

Re: Let the lease, and relationship, end.

  • If you feel OK about spending an additional $5000 you'll never see again, do it.  If you're OK just kicking her out, do that.

    Sara cannot be trusted and the only thing I'd consider is pointing her towards low income options for housing for her.  I would also hate to see the child suffer but the reality is that her situation is the result of her poor decisions and she's also now violent with you.  Get out. 
  • Your fiancé is right. 
  • She shouldn't have hit you and you shouldn't have called her names.  If you feel good about giving her money, do with no strings attached.  IF you're going to give money,  i'd be more inclined to offer to pay her first 2-3 months of a new rental if she can get one.  That way they have somewhere to live, she has another chance to get her shit together and you can feel good about the daughter having that.  I'd be hesitant to just through and unchecked 5k at her.  
  • I don’t think you owe Sarah that 5k.  I’m sure LW and fiancé could use that money. She’s an adult and has to figure this out.  Maybe she has another friend to mooch off of?

  • Ugh.  Sara is the most wrong, but LW really shot themselves in the foot here.  LW should have just rented Sara the place without enmeshment in Sara's finances beyond her ability to pay the agreed upon amount. Now LW has gotten financially and emotionally involved in a volatile situation. 

    I seriously don't know what the right answer is here...but sometimes throwing money at a problem to make it go away is the easiest path.  If LW cuts a check, they need to put it in plain, clear writing what it's for and that it's a 'one time' payment.  
  • IF the third floor is a separate apartment; Why can’t the purchase agreement for the sale of the house include allowing the current tenant to stay at a market rate rent? Obviously this doesn’t work if she’s living with LW in the house. But at least she wouldn’t have to figure out a security deposit and first/ last rent. 

    But I wouldn’t pay her $5k to leave. It sucks but maybe she has to move to a cheaper area even if that means changing schools. Or taking on another job. It’s awful and hard but it’s not LWs responsibility to pay someone who was violent toward them. 
  • I don’t think you owe Sarah that 5k.  I’m sure LW and fiancé could use that money. She’s an adult and has to figure this out.  Maybe she has another friend to mooch off of?
    I dont think they owe her the money, but I do think it’s a reasonable settlement to get her out. Selling a property out from under a crazy disgruntled hold over tenant you’re trying to evict is an expensive nightmare 
  • I don’t think you owe Sarah that 5k.  I’m sure LW and fiancé could use that money. She’s an adult and has to figure this out.  Maybe she has another friend to mooch off of?
    I dont think they owe her the money, but I do think it’s a reasonable settlement to get her out. Selling a property out from under a crazy disgruntled hold over tenant you’re trying to evict is an expensive nightmare 
    Especially selling in this market.  It would be easy to pull $5k off if you get top dollar for your home.  
  • mrsconn23 said:
    I don’t think you owe Sarah that 5k.  I’m sure LW and fiancé could use that money. She’s an adult and has to figure this out.  Maybe she has another friend to mooch off of?
    I dont think they owe her the money, but I do think it’s a reasonable settlement to get her out. Selling a property out from under a crazy disgruntled hold over tenant you’re trying to evict is an expensive nightmare 
    Especially selling in this market.  It would be easy to pull $5k off if you get top dollar for your home.  
    Seriously!  It's a buying nightmare right now but the sellers are definitely benefiting especially if they're going smaller.
  • ei34ei34 member
    First Anniversary First Comment First Answer 5 Love Its
    If there's a legal lease, it's up in July, and LW gave Sara whatever legal notice is (by my landlords have to give tenants 90 days notice if they're choosing to not renew the lease), LW doesn't owe Sara anything.  I'm confused about why $5K would be offered.  Sara has proven that she has poor money management skills. 
    I know it sounds heartless but I'd honestly worry that even if it was for something specific, like covering her broker's fee, first month rent and security deposit, Sara would come knocking in another few years when she needed money again.
  • ei34 said:
    If there's a legal lease, it's up in July, and LW gave Sara whatever legal notice is (by my landlords have to give tenants 90 days notice if they're choosing to not renew the lease), LW doesn't owe Sara anything.  I'm confused about why $5K would be offered.  Sara has proven that she has poor money management skills. 
    I know it sounds heartless but I'd honestly worry that even if it was for something specific, like covering her broker's fee, first month rent and security deposit, Sara would come knocking in another few years when she needed money again.
    See I don’t actually care what Sara uses the money for. I view it as a gtfo payment. And if she comes knocking again the door won’t be open. 
  • ei34 said:
    If there's a legal lease, it's up in July, and LW gave Sara whatever legal notice is (by my landlords have to give tenants 90 days notice if they're choosing to not renew the lease), LW doesn't owe Sara anything.  I'm confused about why $5K would be offered.  Sara has proven that she has poor money management skills. 
    I know it sounds heartless but I'd honestly worry that even if it was for something specific, like covering her broker's fee, first month rent and security deposit, Sara would come knocking in another few years when she needed money again.
    See I don’t actually care what Sara uses the money for. I view it as a gtfo payment. And if she comes knocking again the door won’t be open. 
    In the real estate industry there is even a term for it, "cash for keys".  And I wish I could reach out to the LW and warn them that, if they decide to give $5K to Sara, they need to give it to her AFTER she's moved out and returned the keys.

    If the LW hasn't already done it, they also need to give Sara written notice that they are not renewing her lease and she needs to move out by 7/31/22.  Hopefully there is still time to do that.  For most jurisdictions only 30 days is needed but, as @ei34 pointed out, some areas of the country can be much longer.

    And if Sara doesn't move out in that timeframe, The LW would need to evict her.  The LW needs to wait until Sara is totally gone before listing their house.  An upset, non-paying tenant is a major detractor for any buyer.

    Unfortunately, there are people like Sara out there.  Someone gives them an inch and they get angry they weren't given a mile.  She's mad her gravy train is coming to an end and doesn't give two s**ts about the LW and how much they have helped her.

    I wouldn't give Sara $5K, UNLESS the LW lives in an area where it could take months to evict her and/or the LW would need to hire a lawyer or company to do it.  The LW has done enough to help and it's 100% Sara's responsibility to figure it out. 

    I understand wanting to help a friend in need.  But this is the kind of thing people need to watch out for.  That the "please help me out for a couple months while I get back on my feet", doesn't turn into years.  Because then people become complacent and a favor becomes an expectation. 
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  • ei34ei34 member
    First Anniversary First Comment First Answer 5 Love Its
    ei34 said:
    If there's a legal lease, it's up in July, and LW gave Sara whatever legal notice is (by my landlords have to give tenants 90 days notice if they're choosing to not renew the lease), LW doesn't owe Sara anything.  I'm confused about why $5K would be offered.  Sara has proven that she has poor money management skills. 
    I know it sounds heartless but I'd honestly worry that even if it was for something specific, like covering her broker's fee, first month rent and security deposit, Sara would come knocking in another few years when she needed money again.
    See I don’t actually care what Sara uses the money for. I view it as a gtfo payment. And if she comes knocking again the door won’t be open. 
    The fact that LW is hemming and hawing after all that Sara's done makes me feel like the door will be open in the future, if she doesn't just rip the bandaid off now. 
    I also wouldn't care how Sara used the money, but LW makes it sound like she cares about the wellbeing of Sara's daughter, and a roof over her head via broker's fee, security deposit, etc. would be looking out for the daughter.  
  • short+sassyshort+sassy member
    First Anniversary First Comment First Answer 5 Love Its
    edited May 2022
    ei34 said:
    ei34 said:
    If there's a legal lease, it's up in July, and LW gave Sara whatever legal notice is (by my landlords have to give tenants 90 days notice if they're choosing to not renew the lease), LW doesn't owe Sara anything.  I'm confused about why $5K would be offered.  Sara has proven that she has poor money management skills. 
    I know it sounds heartless but I'd honestly worry that even if it was for something specific, like covering her broker's fee, first month rent and security deposit, Sara would come knocking in another few years when she needed money again.
    See I don’t actually care what Sara uses the money for. I view it as a gtfo payment. And if she comes knocking again the door won’t be open. 
    The fact that LW is hemming and hawing after all that Sara's done makes me feel like the door will be open in the future, if she doesn't just rip the bandaid off now. 
    I also wouldn't care how Sara used the money, but LW makes it sound like she cares about the wellbeing of Sara's daughter, and a roof over her head via broker's fee, security deposit, etc. would be looking out for the daughter.  
    That's a really good point.  The daughter is an innocent that the LW has been living with for the last 3 years, so I'm sure she is close to her.

    If the LW does decide to give financial help, it shouldn't be cash or even a specific amount.  It should be paying directly to a new landlord/PM for first month/security and last month (but only if required for move-in).  Possibly some moving/storage expenses.  Because that would be money to protect the DAUGHTER and make sure a roof is over her head, for at least the initial transition.  But the LW needs to be clear that no more money will ever be given, so Sara needs to do whatever she can to keep the roof over her own daughter's head and not squander this opportunity.

    I'd hope Sara would allow the LW to stay in touch with the daughter, because that would be to the daughter's benefit.  But this friendship is over, so that may not be possible.  
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