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I signed the lease for a small 2 bedroom apartment. I have had four roommates in the span of three years. The three previous roommates left because they moved out of town. The current roommate started in January. Our relationship had generally gone alright. He is clean and respectful in terms of noise. However, he is pretty quiet. We have had lengthy conversations in the past while having dinner and we have even gone out for dinner twice (although always my suggestion).

In the last months, situation has gone worse. He started wearing headphones while in the living room. I once tried to strike up a conversation with him by asking "How was your day?" to which he took the headphones off, answered briefly and put them back on. I reproached him that it was rude to put them back on if I was talking to him. He said that he didn't know the conversation was not over. I responded saying that it wasn't. Then he asked, "is it over now?" to which I affirmed. I did not want to bother him further.

The following day I asked him if everything was alright with his life. He had mentioned in the past that he was a bit burned out of work. He lives a bit far from home (7 hour drive) and does not see his family much. I know also he's the only child and his parents live in different continents (probably he was raised my his mom only). For the record, I am from Europe, while he is American. To my question, he responded that he doesn't want to talk to anybody after work and that he sees the roommate relationship as a business, where it doesn't have to go further than cleaning and mutual respect for each other. Then he asked me if that was ok with me, to which I said that honestly I would prefer to live with somebody that did not see this coexistence as a business.

Despite this, I never asked him to leave. My lease was up in November and I let him know that I was planning to stay until March and that he was welcome to stay longer. Mainly because looking for a new roommate for only four months was going to be difficult. I admit I would have preferred to live with somebody else, but it was more convenient for me to wait until March and live with him.

Our relationship deteriorated after our conversation about living together as a business. I tried to strike up a conversation with him a couple of times, but did not go far and he did not reciprocate by showing interest about me. Then, at the beginning of November, he let me know he might be leaving by the end of December. I told him that was ok. The next day though, I asked him that he needed to make a decision quickly, because if he leaves in December, it is going to be hard for me to find a roommate given the holidays. I told him that he would have to leave by December 8th (30 days after) if he left. After this, he said he was going to leave for sure and he got upset and angry that he needed more days. I told him that I was running the risk of not finding a roommate to move in right before Christmas. This situation happened to me last year, and because I went home for Christmas during two weeks, I could not find a new roommate until mid January. I ended up paying a month of rent by myself. I explained that to him and I think he understood, but it did not change his angry mood.

Yesterday, he told me he was moving out on December 1st and that he needed the security deposit before then to pay his new room. I told him that is not how it works and that he needs to leave the room before I give him back the deposit. He got mad and raised his voice saying that he needs the money and that I need to tell him what problems his room might have so he can hash them out before he leaves. I said I understood that and I would let him know. I asked him again if everything was alright given that he seemed very angry. I asked him if something in my behavior had not been alright and it is the source of his anger towards me. He responded: "We're not having this conversation. I will leave on Saturday and we will be all good"

Honestly, I am a bit scared because I have never had this angry behavior against me (I have shared houses or apartments with more than 15 different people throughout the years). He mentioned once that he would be interested in buying a gun so he could go to the shooting range. I don't know if he did.

Because he needs the money, I am planning to check the room if it needs work, give him 60% of the deposit and the remaining 40% once he leaves, to make sure the room is clean.

How can I convey to him that this is a reasonable decision?

Some more data. He is in his late 20s and I am in my early 30s. We shared costs for common things such as toiler paper and paper towels. In fact, whenever something is lacking, I just buy it and don't let him know how much it is. I expected him to do something similar and he has. At the beginning, he asked me once how much it had been the TP. I said he didn't have to worry about it.

My name is the only one on the lease. He never signed anything and I have no connection with the landlord.

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    Hey there! I think this has the potential to be a great question for IPS. However, your questions are currently all very opinion based, as they currently stand. We can't tell you who is right/wrong or take sides - overall, avoid questions that would be answered with 'yes/no'. I think if you could rephrase your questions to describe an interpersonal goal you'd like to achieve, this question would run much less risk of being closed as off topic. Let me know if you have any questions! – Jess K. Nov 28 '18 at 20:07
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    Did your roommate also sign a lease? If not, why? – only_pro Nov 28 '18 at 20:27
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is asking for opinions about a situation but not interpersonal solutions to the situation – BKlassen Nov 28 '18 at 20:34
  • If there is an angry dispute, how you proceed will depend on what authority you have to decide when/how he gets his deposit back. Can you give some details here? e.g. Is it only your name on the lease? or maybe, Does the lease say that deposit is returned only after tenants move out? Are you connected to the owner in any way? – Jesse Nov 29 '18 at 2:00
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It sounds like you and your housemate have different interpersonal expectations about subleasing.

Given his stated view that the arrangement is purely business, consider challenging him on that:

You said you see the roommate relationship as a business. If that is the case, please abide by the business rule that deposits are refunded after vacating, less any reasonable deductions. We have given each other the customary 1 month’s notice, so there is nothing else to discuss from a business perspective. The exit inspection will be held on December 1, after you have vacated the premises, and the balance of your deposit, if any, will be remitted to your nominated bank account by internet banking within 2 business days.

This moves the conversation squarely into his stated perspective. Looking for new tenants isn’t his problem whatsoever, but by the same token, sourcing funds to pay the security deposit for his new place isn’t your problem.

The notice period also works to mitigate objections that he is doing you a favour by leaving early in December, but you can also say that you are reciprocating by giving him 60% of the security deposit early.

This would show that you are going beyond your ‘business’ obligations as his (sub)lessor.

Although the housemate relationship didn’t develop as well as you would have liked, it sounds like he was at least fair in his financial dealings with you. Showing that you are also being fair to him financially should help de-escalate tensions.

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Security deposits are not the same as first and last month's rent. Typically you provide two months of rent before you move in, and a security deposit on the day you move in. Then you pay each month's rent in advance. So if you moved in Jan 1st, on Feb 1st you'd pay February's rent. If you gave notice to move out at the end of June, on June 1st you wouldn't pay any rent, since you prepaid your last month's rent before moving in. That allows you to provide that money to your new landlord as "first and last" in the new place. On June 30th you get your security deposit back and hand it straight over to the new landlord.

But instead you and your room-mate have some other nonstandard arrangement that, as you can see, can lead to muddles and things not being clear. Plus the money stuff seems to be all tangled up in whose fault it is that the person is moving out and how hard it will be to replace them.

My interpersonal advice to you is this: which is more of a hassle: coping with a possibly trashed room (for which you will be responsible) with or without trying to establish that you can keep some or all of the security deposit to cover it, or having this person out of your hair with as little trouble as possible? Will keeping the security deposit reduce the chances that the room will need cleaning?

You room-mate seems to be an adult and not to be spiteful. I don't think holding the money will change his behavior. He shouldn't need it for his next rent, but whether due to miscommunication between the two of you or misplanning on his part, he does. I would return the deposit and hope that you have no need of it to deal with his room afterwards. After all, you have no lease or anything in writing to explain the circumstances under which you could keep the deposit and use it to clean up or repaint, so even if there is a mess there's going to be an argument.

Giving him back the deposit early will cause you some distress and worry. Take advantage of that to drive home the lesson of all this: get stuff in writing, including when deposits are returned and what they are for.

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As Kate's answer suggests, this is a risk/reward decision. My first thought would be: have you seen his room recently? Is there any reason to think it needs money spent on it? If not, or if it's trivial (painting over marks on the wall or filling in some cracks), then I would say just return the deposit, or most of it, now and at best just keep back say $50 in case of anything unforeseen.

If this makes him more comfortable and the process of his moving out less frictional, then it's probably worth the risk that you could end up out of pocket if unexpected repairs are needed.

I wouldn't generally advise giving in to what could be considered bullying behaviour on his part, but again it's risk/reward, and what do you really gain by withholding the deposit if you know the room is in good order?

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You have combined a few separate and unrelated issues

Yesterday, he told me he was moving out on December 1st and that he needed the security deposit before then to pay his new room. I told him that is not how it works and that he needs to leave the room before I give him back the deposit.

You might find a message board dedicated to real estate and renter's law, but I believe in the US, you are allowed to spend 30 days after the roommate moves out to assess the damage, and return the deposit. So him demanding the deposit up front before he leaves is way out of line, and is not at all something you are obliged to do.

Then, at the beginning of November, he let me know he might be leaving by the end of December. I told him that was ok. The next day though, I asked him that he needed to make a decision quickly, because if he leaves in December, it is going to be hard for me to find a roommate given the holidays.

Your difficulties are not his problem. Your contract with him should specify how much advance notice he needs to make before leaving, and how much notice you must give him before evicting him. He does not have to give you more notice than he promised in that document required just because it's hard to get a roommate in December. Again, a message board dedicated to renter's laws might be more helpful about what exactly are your obligations to each other with regard to advance warning if you have no written agreement.

He started wearing headphones while in the living room. I once tried to strike up a conversation with him by asking "How was your day?" to which he took the headphones off, answered briefly and put them back on. I reproached him that it was rude to put them back on if I was talking to him.

No, what's rude is for you to insist on conversing with him when he has made perfectly clear he doesn't want this. You write this section of your question as if it's obvious he's a nightmare to live with...but you are the one imposing on him.

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