A bit of background: I recently responded to an online ad for a room in a shared home in a city close to me. The poster and I spoke back and forth a bit, and I ended up taking a look at the house. While it was never explicitly stated, even less so in writing, it was assumed that I would be signing on to the lease at the end of the month. For several reasons, I've since gotten cold feet on the deal and want to back out. As of today, there's still 17 days until the room needs to be filled.

Is there still a polite way for me to decline on the room? They do have my contact information, including phone number. From what I gathered, they don't seem like the vindictive type, but I'd rather not take the chance of angering a stranger who has my personal info.

2 Answers 2


You need to tell him as soon as possible, so that he can start looking for a new tenant. This situation happened to me recently (I was in his position) and my potential roommate got cold feet, he told me way too late and it caused me to have to pay an extra month rent by myself. I would have appreciated being told earlier.

Politely tell him that you've decided to decline the room, and offer your reasons as to why. There's not much you can do differently in this situation. It's going to be a bummer for him/her no matter what, but better to hear it earlier rather than later.

  • 3
    I do want to add that you should only give a reason if it's a solid one. If it's only a half-reason you invite them to challenge it hoping you'd still take the room.
    – Imus
    May 15, 2018 at 11:24

I'm a part-time landlord. When i look for candidate tenants, often they are very enthusiastic then flake out a few days later. That's expected, it happens for lots of legit causes, there is no reason to get angry about that. Sometimes I get people on the phone gushing in excuses, so I just tell them "we haven't signed yet, it's okay, five other people want the appartment anyway..."

Bottomline, the deal isn't done until the contract is signed and the first month of rent has been paid. Anyone who ignores this rule does so at their own risk, your poster decided to ignore the rule, it's his problem now.

You're going to flake on him, I'm sure you have your reasons. That's his problem not yours. If he wanted to reduce his financial risk, instead of placing blind trust into someone he just met off the internets, he would have asked you for a deposit. He did not, therefore either he doesn't mind taking the risk, or he's rather naive.

What you need to do is tell him as soon as possible, because the longer you wait, the more his financial risk increases. The fact this dude was naive enough to go long on your empty promise does not entitle you to make him lose even more money by telling him too late that you're not up to it. In fact, the words you use matter a lot less than how quick you are in saying that you're unable. The faster the better.

A good way to phrase it is "I'm sorry, I'm no longer able to take this deal." Do not give a reason, because that would invite a debate. Just say you're unable.

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