Am I an unreasonable housemate?

I recently purchased a unit at about the same time that an acquaintance from church needed to find a new place to live. She can only afford to pay AUD160 per week including utilities like water and electricity (normal rent for this area is about AUD200-250 plus a percentage of the utilities) as she is a student and works in a low-paying Christian job. I agreed as I figured that that it would be the Christian thing to do to help her out so that she could continue to work in her low-paying Christian job and also continue to live in the area.

When she inspected the unit she was a little annoyed but seemed to be ok about the fact that:
• Her room was empty (no wardrobe) and that she would need to acquire something to hang her clothes in/draws;
• I do not have internet (I work 5 days so use the internet at work or on my iphone - she is a student so understandably needs real access as opposed to iphone access to the internet)

The next day she contacted me and was distressed that I had given my car space to a friend and that she would not have access to use it. I admit that when we initially started talking (2 months ago) I had said that she could have access to the car space but the situation has changed. We both investigated and are unable to obtain a council parking permit (most of the parking nearby is restricted to a certain number of hours). The council advised us that she would either need to rent a car space (some rent for as little as AUD40 per week) or find unrestricted parking. She told me that she cannot afford to rent a car space. I drove around last night and was able to find some unrestricted streets near the building. I advised her of this today, she told me that she will go and look at the places that I found and get back to me as to whether she will actually move in or find someplace else to live.

Am I unreasonable? Should I tell the friend that uses my car space that my flatmate needs it? I just feel that I am subsidising her living a great deal and that she should not make me feel guilty about letting my other friend use the car space. I have also had an empty room for 2 months in anticipation of her moving in when I could have been getting rent from someone else. I even drove around the area looking for unrestricted parking.

I don’t know the answer, but I would like to know- what is a Christian job? And why are they so low-paying?

You’re not unreasonable for having whatever restrictions you have on your property. You have, however, your friend in a very difficult spot. If she was expecting a place for her car, and there is none , it would be very helpful if she had known this beforehand so she can plan properly.

You gotta pick your battles, too. Are you going to hold her low rent over her head for everything? Or are parking and Internet the main things that she will be saving $40-90/mo on?

Look for another tenant (which is what someone living in your house with you would be, since you are the owner). This woman is already causing you headaches, and she hasn’t even moved in yet.

Help her out because you like her and you want her to do well.

But helping someone because it’s the “Christian” thing is going to result in you becoming resentful. And it sounds like this is already happening.

It sounds like it’s going to come down to the parking permit. If you really want her to move in, then I would ask your friend for the parking permit back and give it to your flatmate. You did tell her you were going to give it to her, so it’s kind of weasely to back out now. Also, it sucks not to have a guaranteed parking spot at your own residence. I’m betting those unrestricted parking spots are so precious they are almost never vacant. Do you really want your roommate to have to circle around for half an hour looking for a parking spot after a long day at work and school? That’s probably what’s going to happen if she doesn’t get the permit.

I think your friend will understand this.

But I would definitely reconsider this relationship before you obligate yourself. If you’re already feeling guilty over something like this, what’s going to happen when she can’t pay all of her rent? Or when she can’t help out with groceries? Christian love can only go so far.

Double ditto on this. I predict she will wind up being a very demanding tenant. She should be bending over backwards to make your life easy at this point. Do not rent to her. You will be sorry.

–ThelmaLou aka Cat Whisperer’s Evil Twin

I would be pissed about the take-back on the parking spot if I were her, but IMO she’s unreasonably annoyed about the lack of furnishings and Internet.

I think monstro has a good point. It sounds like you’re already resenting her, and I wonder how many irritants will crop up between you two if you are experiencing such difficulties now before she even moved in.

Do you have a formal rental contract? I hope your local area has standard renter’s agreements you can print out and have her sign off on. Plus document the hell out of the condition of that place before she moves in.

You’e the Evil one this week? I thought it was my turn. :smiley:


If she had been promised parking, then she should get it, especially as it sounds as if parking is difficult to find in your neighborhood.

It really doesn’t matter how little she pays in rent.

If you had made an agreement, then stick to it.

I also agree. The two of you had discussed the situation. She understood that there was an unfurnished room and no internet access and agreed on that basis. But she also understood there was a parking spot and that was also part of the agreement.

You may feel that you are subsidizing her rent by charging her a rate lower than others would charge. But she is paying rent and she’s entitled to some consideration as well. You should not regard this as a charitable gift that she should just accept as offered without complaint.

It’s a far more dire situation, but I’m reminded of a friend’s charity towards some homeless people.

He’s well to-do, and understand that homelessness sucks, so once a week he makes sure to offer to buy a homeless person dinner (he’s generally out to eat a lot anyway, and I think it assuages his guilt from being overpaid). He said he gets two kinds of people: the ones who are truly appreciative, and then ones who cuss him out because he offered to buy them dinner instead of just giving them the money.

While your acquaintance (note I am not using ‘friend’) may work at a religious workplace and may go to the same place of worship as you, that does not automatically make her a good person. In this case she strikes me as the latter homeless person: “Oh, woe is me, I am so poor, I just need a roof over my head so I can - wait, this shithole doesn’t have internet!?”

My friend is happy to buy meals for appreciative people. He ignores people that don’t appreciate charity. I suggest you do the same. She apparently doesn’t need your charity that much.

I’d say you both are – her over the empty room and the internet, and you over the parking spot. Yeah, she’s paying less so she shouldn’t expect a fully furnished room and someone to pay for internet. But promising her a parking spot and then giving it away, leaving her with nowhere left to park – that’s also a pretty shitty thing to do as well.

You guys probably aren’t suited to being roommates. She shouldn’t expect to get more for less, and you shouldn’t promise something and then take it away. Lesson learned.

If the offer that included the parking space was 2 months ago I don’t think she has a right to complain. Unless you offered her the spot when she came to look at the apartment.

I would be more concerned where she was for the 2 months in between. She may have had an agreement with someone else and it didn’t work out. If that is true I would find out why it didn’t work out if possible. If she is a problem tenant I would back out or offer a very short time lease.

I am curious about this two month interval. What was going on? Who was waiting for whom? And when (and why) did you give the car space to your friend?

Seems to me these details could be significant in terms of what is and isn’t reasonable here.

  1. Her “Christian job” is teaching children about the bible and she gets paid below minimum wage as it is based on donations (I’m not sure how it is legal, perhaps it is set up as a charity and thus no subject to the same laws)
  2. As far as I am aware, rent never includes internet unless it specifically states that it is included
  3. I offered to provide her a bed etc but she advised me that she had her own bedroom stuff - neither of us addressed the issue of a wardrobe until I pointed out that there was not one in the room (strangely, she did not notice?)
  4. The parking agreement was more of a “yeah I have a car space and don’t have a car full time so you can use it” rather than a definite “absolutely you can have the car space.” I guess either way it has the same effect as she believed she had access to a car space
  5. I ended up giving the car space to another friend that lives nearby as I have been waiting for her to move in for 2 months so it was vacant for a while in the beginning and also because my friend pay $60 per week for it
  6. She has spent the last two months visiting her parents who do not live in Sydney. I agreed that she could wait until she returned to move in so that she could save on rent - I must admit that I have been eagerly awaiting her moving in as I can’t wait for the extra money to assist me with my bills etc so I will be disappointed if it doesn’t work out after all of this and I have to start advertising

does this change anyone’s comments?

To be blunt, no. If I were going to rent a room from someone and they said, “Yes, there’s a parking space you can use”, I’d consider that to mean I had access to that space.

With your recent update post, it seems you offered a room and parking spot for a price, she accepted and you both agreed she would move in when she returned from her parents.

While she was gone you rented out her parking space.

It seems to me you changed an agreed upon deal. To make it right I think you should reduce her rent by the amount you get for the parking space, this would allow her to rent her own parking space.

If on the other hand, the deal wasn’t firm before she left for her parents…she can take it or leave it, as is.

The way I see it is that you’re offering her about a 30-35% discount on typical rent and have kept the room available for two months, in light of which you are not obligated to provide the parking space. However, as the deal no longer includes parking, she is not obligated to move in. I think you both need to reassess what you’re willing to do and see if you can reach an agreement per the present situation. If not, well it’s too bad but that’s life. She lost the parking by putting it off for two months, you may lose the roomer by no longer having parking available.

Neither of you should settle on a deal that you really don’t like.

To my non-legalese self I would assume the parking spot came with the room. And you agreed to hold the room for her.
However I don’t think you’d need to supply bedroom furniture as she said she had her own.
It sounds like she is close with the church and might be able to get the word out that she needs whatever she needs. The churches I went to in the past always had people willing to help if they could.

If all else fails put an add up at the school she is going to for your desired rates.