I'm currently renting a house and am subleasing rooms to three other people. I had signed a lease with the property owner, while the other tenants signed individual leases with me.

One of the roommates is unpleasant for a number of reasons, and while he doesn't have a bad attitude, he doesn't correct his behavior if anyone talks to him about it.

I'm only here for a couple of years for school and I had thought that I'll just deal with it, but one of my other, easier to live with roommates has told me that he's leaving if the first one stays, the main reason being safety. We've had attempted burglars, and the first one isn't careful about locking doors or closing windows when he leaves.

I know that he wants to stay, and I feel like I should have discussed the possibility of him leaving sooner, but I'm here now.

Is there a way I can gently tell him to search for another place to live, and still be able to live with him until the lease expires in August?

I should clarify that the roommate isn't a bad guy per se, but he has some habits that are at odds with the rest of us. He doesn't keep common spaces clean, and he will have people over without telling us or engaging us with his friends. It's stressful to have him around for reasons like these, so if someone is to leave, I would prefer that it's him. I'm not concerned for my safety of that of the property because of him, although it is concerning when he leaves a door unlocked and there are burglars around.

  • Don't you think it's too early to tell him now to leave in August? Even if what you're trying works out, there's a possibility that he might forget (or pretend to). I do understand that he needs time to find another place to live, but 5 months is way too long.
    – Abhigyan
    Mar 11, 2018 at 0:44
  • 2
    If he sticks around after August, how do you plan to deal with it? Kick him out of the house? Extend his lease by another month? Tell him his time's up and he needs to be out by end of the day? Something else? How you communicate to him now will depend a lot on what you plan to do if he doesn't listen to you, and how much that would bother you.
    – Masked Man
    Mar 11, 2018 at 4:00
  • @AbhigyanC whether or not 5 months are enough time to find another flat would depend on the local house/flat market, wouldn't it?
    – Arsak
    Mar 11, 2018 at 22:17
  • @AbhigyanC Absolutely not! If its about having a place to live then there is no such thing as having too long.
    – Jesse
    Mar 11, 2018 at 23:34
  • @Jesse I agree with you, just that where I'm from, you can get a house in as little as a week, but you're absolutely right, it's a matter of place of living, shouldn't be compromised at all
    – Abhigyan
    Mar 12, 2018 at 7:49

3 Answers 3


Just tell him you have other plans for next year and will not be able to sublet to him for next year. Say that you are letting him know now so he'll have plenty of notice, to look for other housing. Neutral tone. Don't tell him anything beyond what you've mapped out and rehearsed ahead of time.

If you want to avoid a big, unpleasant discussion, sit down and tell him in a calm way, with some opportunity for him to ask a question or make a comment; but do choose a time to tell him a few minutes before stepping out.

  • 1
    I would leave out the other plans, that gives the other person the opportunity to try and insert themselves into those supposed 'other plans'. I'd just stick to something along the lines of "Hey, I wanted to let you know that your lease will be expiring in August and won't be renewed. I hope the advance notice gives you enough time to find new living arrangements before then."
    – Cronax
    Mar 13, 2018 at 16:05

No matter how you say it, he will be upset. This is like firing someone or dumping a girlfriend. All you can do is try to minimize the damage and try to act decent, which may conflict with your first priority which is to get rid of him. If you are too decent and friendly, he might not get the message.

Thus, the proper course of action depends on how comfortable you are at delivering bad news to people and generally keeping your cool while being disagreeable.

If you're very uncomfortable with this, you can lie. For example you can say that you won't renew his lease because your childhood friend (or whatever) wants the room. I don't recommend doing that unless you have no other choice, because when he eventually finds out, he might be a whole lot more pissed than if you had simply told him the truth. The problem with this sort of lies is that they come attached to a very long rubberband which tends to snap everything back right into your face eventually.

Now, you say you're at the point when your roommates tell you "it's me or him" which is pretty bad. I guess things have been festering for quite a while, everyone tried to Be Nice for too long, hoping it would work, until you realized it didn't. Now everyone is ready to snap. It would have been better to solve the problem before it got to that point. It is always easier to negotiate before people get to hate each other.

Since you are doing a rent & sublease you are the manager, therefore you have to put your manager hat and make a choice.

When to tell him: if you tell him early, he will have more time to find another place. But you will have to live with him until he leaves, which may be awkward. I'd rather tell him early, as that's the decent thing to do, plus if he finds a new place next month he will be gone long before August, which is what you want. Your other roommate (the "me or him" one) might also decide to leave if you wait too long.

How to tell him: if you're conflict averse, you can hide behind the collective and say something like "we were stressed out when you left without locking the door..." and other sentences starting with "we..." like "we're fed up with cleaning your dishes..." and "to be honest, we've had enough." If you are not conflict averse, you can simply say "Everyone here has been complaining about you, I've had enough of this, so your lease ends on ... date ..."

Who knows, maybe he'll decide to make amends, clean his dishes, lock the door, and behave... If he does that, remember it will stop the day his lease is renewed.

  • It has been my personal experience that lies always cause more harm then good. It's way better in the long run to tell the truth painful as it may be then to tell a lie. Mar 13, 2018 at 19:41
  • @DanAnderson sure, besides lying involves keeping notes of all the lies told to stay coherent and not get caught, it's such a hassle...
    – user2135
    Mar 13, 2018 at 20:24

Here are some suggestions for how to best deliver the bad news to your roommate:

Tell him in person

It's tempting to e-mail him or leave him a note, but talking face-to-face shows respect, especially if you're discussing ending some type of relationship. Also, an e-mail or note is easy to misinterpret, whereas when you're physically with him, you can explain or clarify things immediately so that there's less room for misunderstanding.

(Judith Bram Murphy)

Consider the setting

There's never a great moment to have a tough talk, but you can avoid any excessive hurt by choosing a day carefully - for instance, while your lease expires in August, you don't want to deliver the bad news to him on Memorial Day weekend or on the 4th of July holiday. The place, too, can make a difference: It should offer relative privacy, the option for a quick exit, and an atmosphere that will allow the other person to feel comfortable and react safely. (Sitting in a well-chosen bar or restaurant in your neighborhood can be more conducive to a sensitive conversation than driving in a car, where both of you are stuck after you tell him the news.)

(Linda Sapadin)

Rehearse a little

The impulse to memorize exactly what you're going to say is understandable -- it's easy to just let it out and then end the discussion early. But scripting the entire speech will make you seem insincere. On the other hand, a nervous or agitated delivery can cause both of you to feel worse, so it's not a bad idea to practice the first few sentences to help you through the initial awkward moments -- but after that, try letting your words come out naturally.

(Dana Bristol-Smith)

Acknowledge how hard this is

If you're stumbling over how to start, you could start with something like,

I don't know how to say this, but I must tell you something.


I don't want to scare you, but there's something you need to know.

Let the other person react

Uncomfortable as this can be, keep in mind that most people wind down after an initial outburst. Remain conscious of your breathing, and keep it slow and steady -- that will go a long way in helping you stay calm. (When you're nervous, you tend to breathe very rapidly or hold your breath.) Try not to interrupt or respond emotionally to your roommate being upset. If his anger escalates and makes you feel unsafe, announce that you are providing some time to cool down, and leave the room.

Express empathy

If your roommate is visibly upset, acknowledging your role in his distress, e.g. saying

I'm really sorry this is making you so upset

lets him know that you care, despite the circumstances. If there are tears, offer Kleenex or a glass of water, and ask if he would like a few minutes of privacy. If he's angry, saying something like

I hear you

at least offers some validation of how he's feeling. Just make sure your empathy is rooted in reality.


I can understand that you're angry with me because I disappointed you,


That was not the way I wanted it to work out, either.

shows concern without giving false hope.

(Dana Bristol-Smith)

Source: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/how-to-have-a-difficult-conversation-delivering-bad-news#ixzz59TQIyWUU

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