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I recently bought a 3 bedroom house as a single male and as a result I have more than enough space for myself. My close friend has contacted me saying that his landlord wants to evict him and if he can move in with me as he is struggling to find a new place. I have more than enough space to accommodate him so the space is not an issue. However I do like having my own space and ideally would not have him move in with me for an extended period of time.

My concern is why he is already enquiring to move in with me considering he has 6 months notice to find another place. My gut feeling is that he is trying to advantage of this situation.

I said, as a stopgap, he could stay for up to two weeks and I would not charge him any rent or bills for such a short period of time. However I really would not want him to stay much longer. He said he would pay a respectable rent although I am unsure of his definition of respectable.

My initial thoughts are to change him an intentionally unfair amount of rent (>50% of the average rent in the area for a comparable house) as motivation to find an alternative place for any period after the two weeks I would be comfortable with.

How can I talk to my friend in order to make sure he won't stay more than two weeks?

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  • 3
    Unsure if this is a translation ambiguity if English is not your primary language, but "to move in with someone" tends to imply long term. If it were two weeks, you wouldn't describe it as "moving in".
    – Flater
    Feb 20 at 18:15
  • See also this similar question about someone who took in a temporary person and now needs to.remove them: interpersonal.stackexchange.com/q/26730
    – Stilez
    Mar 6 at 19:34
38

Talking about paying rent after two weeks gives the impression you can stay for more than two weeks! It can already be seen in the reaction from your friend:

He said he would pay a respectable rent although I am unsure of his definition of respectable.

In other words, he's okay with staying for more than two weeks now, and thinks you'd be okay with that too, because of the message you've given so far.

So you're having two problems now:

  • Backing down on your original offer: let him know he can't rent. Your friend thinks you've already promised him he can stay even if those two weeks are up, as long as he pays rent.
  • Letting him know the new offer of just staying for two weeks and have him keep it. You can always tell someone they can only stay for two weeks. Will he actually keep that promise? That's something only you can gauge, you know him. We don't. And you need to realize no matter what you tell him, he may still choose to break his end of the deal.

Backing out of an original offer is hard. At this point your friend thinks he can come over, stay for two weeks rent-free, and then start paying rent and stay even longer.

As a teenager, I was prone to 'over-promising', promising to do things that I did not want to do. When I realized I actually didn't want to do what I said I'd do, I'd try to weasel my way out with excuses, or deny I ever promised such a thing. It's not good for your relationships, as people will come to realize that they can't count on you. Most relationships didn't survive this. I've realized that instead, it's often better to bite the bullet and set things straight as soon as I realize what I've done. It showed me who my real friends are, and improved our relationship.

In your case, I would recommend setting this straight as soon as possible by clearly letting your friend know that:

  • you're not looking for a roommate.
  • as such you won't let him rent.
  • he can stay if he needs to for two weeks, but not more.

I would usually start such a conversation with things like 'I've been thinking', 'I've come to realize', 'I'm sorry, I changed my mind', 'Upon further consideration' (for more formal stuff). Make it clear that the fault with the first message was with me: I told or promised something and am unwilling to keep up that part after more thinking about it.

If you really don't want him to stay for more than two weeks, you're going to have to stand your ground on this. You will be setting an ultimatum. As that post says: Expect a negative reaction and be prepared to let go. Your friend may not like being told that he can't stay for longer. But depending on the way he takes this, that may or may not be a good sign your gut feeling was right, and you may have dodged a bullet or reinforced a valuable part of your friendship (the ability to be honest with each other) with him.

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Both of my children have taken in friends with nowhere to live and yes, faced the issue of how to limit that stay. I think the key is in the way you tell the person they can stay. Compare:

Sure, this house is huge, I'll take you in for a while, no problem!

to

I'm sure you can find a place in the next 6 months, but of course if it ends up that you need a week here between places I am more than happy to have your back.

Your friend may not want to stay with you, may just want to know that homelessness isn't staring them in the face. Or they may be looking forward to having company or not having to pay rent. Since you have already answered the question once, and mentioned rent, I think it would be wise, as soon as possible (not when he shows up with boxes) to "clarify" or even go so far as to say "sorry I wasn't clear" and then restate what your actual position is, as above.

If you don't want a roommate there is nothing wrong with saying

I'm not looking for a roommate so to be clear in advance, this would be something temporary between places for you. A week, two tops.

I don't recommend you charge your friend rent. If he needs your help and support for a week or two, the rent you get from him won't mean much to you over such a short time, but might mean a great deal to him. OTOH if he's trying to become your roomie, paying rent may give him rights, either genuinely or just in his own mind. My daughter once took someone in, and shortly after that friend started paying a share of the rent, she got in an argument with the landlord and gave notice on behalf of the whole apartment! Leaving my daughter out looking for a new place at a time she didn't want to. I think it's better to make it clear that this remains your house, and this friend is just staying in it for a little while, not living in it.

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  • I should mention that I bought the house instead of renting it. I have changed the question.
    – Jsk
    Feb 18 at 14:56
  • 1
    well that rules out him doing precisely the same thing, but it doesn't rule out his feeling that he has rights, that he has paid for the right to stay as long as he wants, etc. Feb 18 at 15:46
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    IANAL, but I'm not sure whether or not the guest pays rent is relevant with regards to eviction/squatter laws. If he was let in legally, the fact that he is currently not paying rent may not matter. IOW, if you're worried about this type of thing happening, it may make sense to preemptively consult with a lawyer (or at least, the law stack). Feb 18 at 22:51
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    this isn't only about whether he legally has rights. It's about whether the guest (and perhaps also the host) feel like he has bought some rights by paying rent. No rent, it's more obviously a favour. Feb 19 at 0:35
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    @KateGregory: That may be obvious to you and I, but there are plenty of wholly unreasonable people out there who will happily pretend that it's "just a favor" and "c'mon, I just need another week or two, I'm sure I'll have a place by then" right up until the law decides they are a tenant rather than a licensee... and then they will abruptly "realize" that they like being your tenant and force you to evict them.
    – Kevin
    Feb 19 at 22:19
13

I want to summarise your question slightly differently than written.

  1. You have a house and like your own space.
  2. Your friend has been given 6 months notice to leave his place, is struggling to find a new place, and wants to "move in" (not the same as staying temporarily); you think he may be taking advantage of the situation.
  3. You have told him he can move in for up to 2 weeks, with no rent, but you don't really want him to stay longer; however you fudged saying "no" and your approach has probably implied to him, an understanding that there is scope to stay longer (on some or other terms).

You have a real problem here. Your friend has 6 months to look, but why would he, when he can use some of that time to see if his good friend with a 3 bedroom house will let him stay. After all, you've virtually said something can be agreed, haven't you? Or that's how he may well feel. And, if not, you're hardly going to throw him out on the streets, homeless. Not with a friend homeless and some wishy-washy "Wahh, I like my spaaaace" excuse - and not when you have 2 spare bedrooms and him already there. Do you really have what it takes to kick him out on the streets? What if he genuinely cant find somewhere? Homelessness? He may well reckon, "probably not", and that you'll reluctantly decide you're okay with it. He's probably right, too.

So its a win for him every way.

What to do? I think the only thing you can do is a "frame reset" - sit down with him in person or voice, and start over again from scratch.

"I know what we discussed, and I impulsively said yes. But I've been thinking since, and it's not going to work, and we will both get hurt worse if we try it. I'm sorry, but I'm changing my answer to 'no', and I want to explain why."

Notice it's not vague, and not open to ambiguity. Its very direct; it's a statement of how things are, and not the prelude to a re-negotiation. That's deliberate. That also makes it the hardest thing to say, but you'll need to be that direct and honest.

That's how to start. After that, is down to you, so I can only give ideas..... some or any of these may help.

(1)

I didn't get this house at random. I got it because I need space, and a place totally to myself, badly, for my own wellbeing. I realised I can't have someone staying longer term in it. I wouldn't be able to manage well, myself. That's my mental wellbeing, and my personal lifestyle, so its not a matter of compromise, its just how it is. I won't be sharing my space long term. I kind of fudged the point initially so I need to be clearer now.

(2)

I'm also reluctant because of the contradiction in your own request.

You have 6 months notice. It's a long time. If you can find somewhere else within 6 months, you won't need my help anyway. But if you honestly can't find somewhere else in 6 months, what does that imply about the chances you'll only stay 2 weeks after that? If you sincerely look for 6 months, and fail, the odds have to be that you might not find anywhere for another few months. Or more. A year or 2.

So your own question says to me, there is almost no scenario where you stay here and only need to stay a couple of weeks. If you stay, its because you failed to find somewhere after 6 months, meaning it's that hard to find somewhere, and you'll need to stay semi permanently. Isn't that true? (get his agreement, yeah, that's probably how it would go).

If we do that, we're both fucked, I'll want to evict you for my own wellbeing, you'll have nowhere to go, we get stuck into lawyers... I value our friendship enough that I'm not going to go that route. A situation we can't easily put right.

You have 6 months till you actually have a problem. If you can't find a home in that time, you've got a problem that I can't help fix.

(3)

But ..... if you find somewhere, actually sign a binding contract, and there's a week or 2's gap, and you need a helping hand over the temporary gap, yeah. I think I could do that, and love to help. No rent, no moving in, but couch-stayover for a week or 2, that kind of thing I can help with.

(Note - if you do let anyone stay temporarily for a while, look up "licence to occupy" - that's the legal term for when you let someone stay but they don't get any rights to stay against your wishes, like a sitting tenant might. There are forms and templates online for these as well, which may help.)

Source: personal experience of closest friend taking a friend as a "temporary" housemate and being driven to despair when it quickly became obvious temporary meant semi permanent in reality. Following that, I gave the same advice as I've written here, to 2 other friends considering "helping out a friend" with a room, and in each case the outcome was along the lines of "thanks, I didn't know how to say no, and I didn't see the problem down the line". That first case, the friendship was destroyed by the incident. The other 2 it survived. But how to.say it is as important as what to say - to know how to.set boundaries and draw lines. I've learned that as part of an open lifestyle where boundaries and communication are critical, and use the styles described almost daily as needed, they work very well.

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1

"My gut feeling"

Don't ignore a gut feeling. I've done this a couple of times in my life with disastrous results.

If you have someone living with you because of your feelings of guilt, you will inevitably build up resentment. This will finish your friendship. You will end up arguing about shared food, who cleans the bathroom, who pays for what and so on. He will be watching TV with you, sharing the kitchen, and the bathroom. You have to really get on with someone for this to work.

For young students of equal status who are all living in rented accommodation together, this can work. If you have a party, and cheese and wine get ground into the brand-new carpet (I'm speaking from experience as a student!), you can keep paying the rent on time so that the landlord doesn't find out. However, as the owner, you will be much more house-proud and concerned about fixtures and fittings than any tenant ever will and you will notice every single infraction of your 'rules'.

You may end up taking legal proceedings to get your friend out. Except you won't be friends anymore.

Why was he given notice? Landlords want to hang on to ideal tenants not get rid of them. I know from personal experience on both sides of that fence. Note that drugs, alcohol, or simply the smell of ordinary tobacco can cause a landlord to give someone notice, as can the purchase of a pet.

Does he have girl/boy friends? If yes, they will be coming to stay. If he doesn't then he may be relying on you for all of his friendship needs.

You are regretting it already. Your feelings will only intensify. You will end up miserable.

My advice

One way or another your friendship is going to be tested and may end, either because you resent living with him or because you refuse him. Choose the path that will be least damaging to your mental health in the long run. Sometimes we have to be selfish.

Just say a straight no. Absolutely no-one is fooled by the idea that it will only be for two weeks. He has six months. If he hasn't found anywhere by then, he will want to stay with you permanently.

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    @Mazura - even reading between the lines, I can't find where the friend is being evicted due to rent arrears. Landlord may want to sell property, live there himself, etc.
    – Tim
    Feb 21 at 9:30
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How can I talk to my friend in order to make sure he won't stay more than two weeks?

The rational way to talk would be to do it exactly like a typical embassy would talk to an applicant for a tourist visa (not an exact quote here; slightly modified to match the context of this question):

Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for admission, that the applicant has strong ties to their home place and will return. Even if the applicant is bearing the full cost of the visit, the applicant must prove that she or he will be compelled to come back to their residence after a brief stay.

That is, from the rational point of view, you should let him move in only if there's a hard proof that he will leave before a certain agreed date.

But then, asking a friend to prove his intentions isn't quite how friendship is supposed to work, so I wouldn't advise you to talk with him like that. Instead, I would expect that if your friend had such a strong proof, he would have told you that himself, without you asking.

As the personal experience: I was in exactly that situation once in my life. A family (a friend and his girlfriend) asked me to let them move in for a month to let them start a massive renovation on the home they owned. I didn't have to ask them to prove anything - they told me their plan up front. It was absolutely clear they have a place to return to, and that they are eager to return there once the construction is over. I knew them for a long time, too, so I knew they did own the home. It all worked great for both of us.

So, given what your friend says about 6 month notice and him struggling to find another place, I would implicitly assume that good and honest intentions though he have, there's no proof that he would actually be able to keep his word and leave your place. So no need to ask him to prove anything. Better just come up with a safer plan, which would help your friend without risk of him staying forever.

Have you considered helping him book a simple one-bedroom vacation rental home (or other temporary accomodation)? That shouldn't be too costy for you, assuming the friend will actually pay some respectable amount towards this two-week stay, as he offered.

This advice is backed by the practice of my former employers who would book a temporary accomodation (condo or a hotel) for a few first weeks, to give a new hire some time to rent a place here.

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  • You backed up your answer as requested by this forum, but with essential differences between what you describe and OP's situation. OP's friend is not working on their home and looking forward to move back again as fast as possible. A friend rejecting that request and instead renting a room would appear kind of strange and is something completely different than a company helping out an employee. I agree with the basics of your answer, that it's a not so easy situation for OP and there is no proof possible, especially because this request comes months before the leaving.
    – puck
    Feb 23 at 6:00
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    @puck, that's exactly my point: OP could've possibly let them move in only if the friend's situation was essentially different, like, e.g. in the story I've told. But given that the friend cannot guarantee such level of certainity, the OP should revoke the invitation and find some other way to help the friend. Sorry if that point got cluttered in the post.
    – Igor G
    Feb 25 at 21:29

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