Amy Dickinson: House full of roommates can’t keep it clean
Dear Amy: I have eight roommates (five men and three women), all living together in a large house.
All of the roommates rent separately from a landlord; we are not friends sharing a house as friends (the rent is very cheap, and so is the landlord).
The things that have never been resolved over the years are primarily people taking out the trash and keeping the kitchen and front hallway floor clean. Dishes are left in the sink for days, weeks or over a month and also general cleaning the kitchen.
Sometimes one of the people will bring some cleaning help in for her specific needs, but that is not reliable regarding the house common areas.
It seems that some people just don’t care -- and believe it or not, some people seem to be obstructing any resolution.
I should not have to pick up the slack that others leave undone.
How can we get people to finally get on the same page as much as possible, and resolve this?
Amy, can you visit the house and gently persuade these scumbags to act like adults and do their part? -- Grunged
Dear Grunged: Before I book my flight to intervene on your behalf, you need to understand that if I could inspire others to clean the house to my standard (through force or persuasion), I would not be up late vacuuming while my own family of seven slumbers peacefully.
You should certainly try to call a “house meeting” to address these issues. One logical solution would be for all of you to chip in to hire a cleaner (or “Hazmat” specialist) to come every other week and clean the common areas of the house. However, my instinct is that the individuals who care the least will continue to care the least, and therefore will refuse to either help or pay.
With nine people all renting cheaply and separately on individual leases, and without friendship ties between you (which would create some emotional leverage), your only advantage is the freedom to choose to move when your own lease runs out.
Dear Amy: My husband and I (along with our 4 year old), live next to a childless couple in their 40s. They moved in after the husband inherited the house about two years ago.
Last summer, we were awakened at 3 a.m. by the husband from next door. He was sobbing and yelling to himself on their front porch. Apparently, the neighbor was very drunk, and his wife locked him out of the house.
My husband tried to help -- he managed to get him into their garage.
This has happened at least 20 more times in the last six months: Husband comes home late, is locked out and then yells or cries for hours. Eventually, he passes out or the wife relents and lets him in.
I left them a note asking them to please be more considerate. A neighbor got slapped by the husband when he tried to move him inside. Another neighbor has called the police several times.
Now, they avoid us at all costs. The police have said that there is no assault or abuse happening, and that the issue is domestic, and the most they can do is write them a citation for disturbing the peace.
I understand that there is probably a serious addiction problem here, and I sympathize with them, but their issues should not be our issues! Especially at 3 a.m.!
Do you have any recommendations for a strategy to get them to take it inside? -- Awake and Pacing
Dear Awake: “Taking it inside” might be best for you, but not necessarily for them. If this husband is drunk, belligerent and (sometimes) physically violent, forcing this couple into home confinement might not be best for either of them.
You’ve been neighborly; you’ve also contacted them discreetly. Calling the police is the appropriate thing for you to do at this point. If at some point the wife is ready to leave, or needs a restraining order, a history of police visits might help her to build a case. Being threatened with arrest for public intoxication might force him toward getting help.
Dear Amy: “Hurt and Sincere” wrote about being at the stage of life where many of the parents are ill and dying.
I’m at that stage, too. Thank you for writing this: ”... showing up as a witness to someone else’s loss is a vital expression of our own humanity.”
I wish more people understood how important this is. -- Been There
Dear Been There: I agree.