TL;DR: I need ask for a refund without ruining a friendship.

I needed to move out of my student apartment since I am not a student anymore. I did not want to move back in with my parents. My friend offered his bed & breakfast for 1 month. He couldn't rent it to tourists because the neighbors are having construction and thus make a lot of noise during the day. This is no issue for me because I need to work during the day.

While I was heading there to talk about the terms, in the street a stranger acts aggressively towards me. (hits random objects, proceeds walking to me to shout in my face in close proximity, +/- 1 meter, in a foreign language, aggressive body language). I biked away, hid somewhere around a corner, and informed the police. A couple of days later, I told my friend that I was not interested due to the incident that happened in that street.

He asked me to come for dinner to talk it over. He assured me that something like that has never happened before, and that I have nothing to worry about. I believed him, so the deal was done. (In retrospect, this is the moment where I should have refused to 'talk it over').

I moved in there and the first night was cold. I was scared at every sound from the street. Apparently the incident was still rather fresh in my mind. And I started to have a panic attack.

I called my father to let me please stay with him for now. I informed my friend that I was moving out of his apartment and I dropped the key in his mailbox.

In an e-mail I stated that "The money I gave you is rightfully yours, and is the result of my error in judgement.". This is what I want to go back on.

This all takes places in the same city, so there are no high stakes. And I can miss the money, I just do not wish to. How can I ask for a refund politely?


  • I let him know that I would greatly appreciate a refund. (it is no problem if he refuses)
  • Give him no reason to be offended.

This is in the Netherlands, and said friend has English roots.

  • 3
    Did the rent include any utilities? Would you be happy to compromise on just getting that portion back (since you haven't caused any utility costs)?
    – Kat
    Feb 26, 2018 at 20:05
  • 13
    Is the panic attack an actual diagnosis by a doctor, or is that self-diagnosed?
    – Polygnome
    Feb 27, 2018 at 9:30
  • 20
    "In an e-mail I stated that 'The money I gave you is rightfully yours, and is the result of my error in judgement.'. This is what I want to go back on." This sentence started so well! Feb 27, 2018 at 13:14
  • 4
    Is this an actual friend, or just an acquaintance? A friend would at least understand the request, even if they felt unable to fulfill it.
    – chepner
    Feb 27, 2018 at 14:40
  • 13
    If a druggy coming up to ask for money is scary enough to you to warrant leaving a rental after one incidence, you probably should never live in a big city [in Canada or America] or near any sort of public transit... Feb 27, 2018 at 16:35

8 Answers 8


There's no gentle way to say this, so I'll be blunt:

You had a business arrangement, and reneged.

Your friend put that apartment at your disposal, however you acted on irrational fears, and decided to move in with your parents. That's not on him, it's on you.

Had you been accosted again the next day (or even a week later), you may have concluded that it's an unsafe area to live, and that - perhaps - your friend did you a disservice for having not informed you of the true nature of the neighborhood before moving in. However, that didn't happen.

To now go back to your friend and ask for a refund would be incredibly rude. Take responsibility for your decision, and move on.

  • 28
    Renting/leasing isn't about actual occupation, it's about the right to occupy. Whether a right is exercised is on the rightsholder, barring unusual situations that aren't typically part of such an agreement. @J...
    – Nij
    Feb 26, 2018 at 18:47
  • OP clearly states that the person is his friend. Why do you assert it was a business arrangement as opposed to a friend doing another friend a favour?
    – ESR
    Feb 27, 2018 at 2:38
  • 14
    @edmundreed - have you read the question? "My friend offered his bed & breakfast for 1 month" <- it's a business. "the deal was done" <- a transaction.
    – AndreiROM
    Feb 27, 2018 at 3:29

No, there is no way you can ask for it politely. You made an agreement with your friend and then went back on it when your friend did nothing wrong.

Anything you do will be interpreted as ingratitude. As you said in your note to him, the money was rightfully his.

So the question is, how do you politely ask for money that is not rightfully yours, but rightfully the person's as they not only did nothing wrong, but reached out a lifeline to you when you needed it?

The answer is you cannot. Any effort to do so will destroy the friendship. Take it as a life's lesson and the money lost, the tuition.


You help him place somebody else in there

It's the standard rule of breaking a lease: Your responsibility to pay the lease ends the moment someone else is paying rent.

Then, with impunity, you can ask for the days' rent back for the days now filled by others. He has no standing to deny it to you, morally or legally.

It goes easier to have the landlord's cooperation, but you have that. In the US the concept is called mitigation of damages, the landlord has to actively try to re-rent it, but I would not expect that rule to apply for a <30 day period except on a normally daily/weekly rental.

Another thing you can do with landlord's cooperation is AirBNB it. That can be quote lucrative.

  • Don't count on the landlord to always view it that way, though. My previous landlord (in Belgium) wanted me to pay for one extra month (I was leaving two months before the end of the notice period), despite already having a new renter ready to enter (and pay) that month. Feb 27, 2018 at 9:55
  • 7
    @AndréParamés I can't speak for Belgium in particular, but in most EU countries that is extremely illegal. Your landlord has to decide between taking your money, or the new tenant - they cannot lease the room to two parties simultaneously. (Might actually be worth you looking at small claims court)
    – user10883
    Feb 27, 2018 at 10:54
  • 7
    @Bilkokuya thankfully it didn't get to that, since I just told him "if I'm paying for another month, I'm staying for another month", and since he already had scheduled everything with the new renter, he relented. Still, good advice for the future! Feb 27, 2018 at 13:45
  • 1
    Also note, that - depending on local law and contract content - the landlord doesn't necessarily have to accept anyone you bring in as new renter. Feb 28, 2018 at 1:03
  • 1
    From my rich personal experience in renting in the Netherlands, I can say that despite the theoretical caveats (people not willing to cooperate), doing this in good communication is just about the only way you may get part of the rent back, and maintain a good relation. -- If all parties agree that someone moves in throughout the month and pays X for it, it is not guaranteed, but quite common that you may ask for that share. Make sure the terms are clear before the new tenant is signed up to avoid an even bigger mess. Feb 28, 2018 at 14:22

Could you go back and live at the flat for the rest of the month? If so, it's not unused rent, it's wasted rent and you've wasted it, not your friend.

You could approach this with your friend, but they likely wouldn't have made the offer to you if they didn't need the money over this period for bills and such (or they wouldn't have charged you the full amount they'd charge a tourist anyway), so just let it go unless you're truly desperate.

You've already said it's fine if you don't get the money, and maybe you should try living at your friends again now that you know you've got the safety net of your father's house if you need it? That way you won't feel like your wasting the rent, and you'll learn to live with some independence as well.

  • 5
    I think your first point is very important. If OP is not getting a refund, they should be allowed to use the place for the remainder of the time.
    – ESR
    Feb 27, 2018 at 2:42
  • I agree with the last paragraph.
    – hunger
    Mar 1, 2018 at 13:26

All the answers so far correctly say that you made a business arrangement and should honor it. You don't have a right to your rent back. Asking for your rent back in a demanding way would be rude and out of line.

However asking for the rent back as a friend may not be out of line. Just ask in a nice humble way knowing that your friend would be doing you a great favor beyond the call of duty if he gave you all or some of the rent back. If he declines you should not be pouty or give off any kind of attitude. Just understand and own your mess up. Even then he may think your kind of hustling him for even asking.

Your friend would in no way be out of line declining to give you the rent back. Your friend rented it to you and that alone, even if you never spend a minute there entails some cost, some effort expended on his part and some commitment on his part. The day you agreed, he entailed some costs to clean it and make sure it was ready for you. He stopped any marketing he may had been doing to get the room rented, costing him potential to get the vacancy filled. He had overhead involved. I can assure you as having been a landlord before that renting a room for a month is no kind of windfall. Actually it is kind of a hassle.

  • 7
    Just ask in a nice humble way +1. "Hey... um. I don't suppose you offer a prorate to tourists that leave early, do you?" (big cheesy smile).... Yeah, I didn't think so but it was worth a shot ;)
    – Mazura
    Feb 27, 2018 at 2:11
  • 1
    This was indeed my reasoning when posting this question.
    – gorgabal
    Feb 28, 2018 at 17:02
  • did you ask for a refund? just curious.
    – Jon
    Feb 28, 2018 at 21:51
  • I mostly agree with this answer. In your situation I would probably repeat "The money I gave you is rightfully yours, and is the result of my error in judgement." and then ask him carefully if he still might consider returning you a fraction of the cost, and that he's free to decide on the amount he deems right. And make it clear that it's fine if he decides not to.
    – hunger
    Mar 1, 2018 at 13:21
  • 1
    @Jon I did not ask for a refund. I think it is good for me to be "an adult" about it and stick to whatever deal I agreed to. I am just going to be more careful on what I agree to in the future.
    – gorgabal
    Mar 1, 2018 at 15:29

You said, he is your friend. So, You can share your experience with him in a friendly manner. He may return full or a portion of the money back to you. Also, you cannot take it back forcefully as the problem is completely yours not him.


Frankly, if your friend really didn't have prospects to rent the place out, I'm a little surprised he hasn't offered you the money back. At any point, did he do so? If so, even though you turned it down, then you might politely say, "If that offer still stands, I'd like to talk about it."

If not, you might politely say, "Were you ever able to rent that apartment out for the balance of the month?" and if the answer is affirmative, then your friend really ought to offer you some of your rent back; otherwise he's collecting double rent for a period of time and that's definitely not appropriate.

Those are really the "polite" options I see.


All the other answers at this time seem to assume that you were in your right mind when you moved out of the apartment. Judging by the question, you were not (you had a panic attack, anxiety took over and more or less forced you to move out, if I am reading correctly)

If you were not in your right mind and capable of making a sound decision, then you stand a good chance of getting your money back if you explain this to your friend. I would approach them casually or send an email, and explain your panic attack(s) if your friend is not aware of it, then explain that when you returned the key and sent the email, you had a panic attack and were not thinking straight. You did not realize (I assume) when you moved in that there would be anxiety problems, and now that you know there are, you would like to move on. Of course, your friend does not have to give you back the money, especially because you explicitly renounced any claim to it, in writing (for the future, it's probably better to move out, calm down, and then send an email after thinking about it)

That being said, any reasonable person would let you stay in the house for the remainder of time you have paid rent for, considering you were not in your right mind/mentally incapacitated (and therefore not mentally competent to break the contract) at the time you terminated your rental agreement. (There's even the legal concept of competence to enter a contract, but I am not a lawyer and do not suggest one is necessary in this case). If your friend will not give you the money back, I suggest you request to move back in if you are willing and able to do so.

  • 11
    First, OP was not panicking when he agreed to stay with his friend. Second, we are not here to diagnose OP with a mental health disorder. Third, even if he has seen a therapist and been diagnosed, it is still manipulative to try and use that to get your money back
    – Jesse
    Feb 27, 2018 at 0:58
  • @Jesse First, OP said he had a panic attack. I am not diagnosing anything. I will edit the question to clarify that. I respectfully disagree that it's manipulative, because OP may not have been aware he would have a panic attack as a result of living in the house. If OP somehow was, that's an entirely different problem, and I agree that would be manipulative. Of course the original agreement is still valid. but I don't see any harm in asking, and as I said, OP is entitled to use the service he/she/it paid for. Also, isn't it a bit manipulative of the friend to ask to 'talk it over' when OP
    – cat40
    Feb 27, 2018 at 1:11
  • 1
    We are giving advice to OP, not his friend so the friends actions are not something we need to debate. With manipulation, I was referring to using his disorder and then break down as the primary reason he should get a refund. It pressures the friend to act in a certain way through guilt tripping and evoking compassion which is manipulation. It is not about what or why OP acted the way he did before, the question is how should he best act now and I would suggest having an objective conversation about what they will each do next instead of pressuring his friend in an attempt to get money.
    – Jesse
    Feb 27, 2018 at 2:24
  • 3
    Even if this is true, the OP's mental health issues are not the flat owner's responsibility, fault or problem. Feb 27, 2018 at 13:15
  • 3
    Furthermore, given the description of events, the "actual assault" wording sounds like an overreaction to be quite honest. Feb 27, 2018 at 13:16

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