Ask Amanda


Dear Amanda,

My roommate is being entirely unhelpful in my quest to find sublessors for our four-bedroom apartment. We have a group of four that wants to move in on June 1st, but he refuses to leave until he’s done studying for the bar in July. This is preventing us from finding a group of people to take the apartment. I am totally fed up after having lost two separate potential groups of sublessors, because my roommate is too lazy to pack up and get out by June 1st. I would just force him to find people himself, but I know he would be too lazy and we’d end up without any. I can’t afford to let the apartment sit vacant all summer. So, how should I compel him to get his act together?


Wondering Why I Don’t Live Alone

Dear Wondering,

I completely sympathize. Having roommates is hard, especially when they put their needs ahead of your own in making their life decisions. I have recently encountered a similar problem with Useful Roommate. Contrary to my implicit wishes and explicit orders, Useful Roommate insists on moving out of the apartment right after graduation, a full three months before our lease expires and two full months before I move out. This is a catastrophe of gargantuan proportions, as Useful Roommate is both the literal and metaphorical glue that holds our apartment together.

Without Useful Roommate, the cracks in the ceiling of our apartment, the slanted foundation of the building, and the complete ineptitude of Going-to-be-useful-when-he’s-a-Senator Roommate and myself with regards to all things involving wood, metal, or glass make it is likely that our apartment will physically collapse. Further, without Useful Roommate acting as a laid back, wise-cracking, Tivo-owning buffer, it is entirely possible that Going-to-be-useful-when-he’s-a-Senator Roommate and I will kill each other. Actually, just the removal of Tivo may be sufficient to produce this outcome. Despite the clear and repetitive manner in which I state these objections to Useful Roommate’s departure, he still insists on leaving! He keeps mumbling something about Somerville being a vile and unfun place to live and him needing to find an apartment in New York. These are his needs, but what about mine? What if the light bulb in the bathroom goes out after he moves? The last time that happened and Useful Roommate was out of town, Going-to-be-useful-when-he’s-a-Senator Roommate and I had to shower in darkness until he got back. What if the electricity goes out in half of the apartment, again? The last time this happened, I figured the apartment was broken, and was packing my things by candlelight to move into Rotter’s study, but then Useful Roommate did something with “the circuit breaker” and everything was working again. But I don’t know where “the circuit breaker” is. All sorts of mechanical problems could arise, but there are other issues, too. What if there is another mouse? Or worse, what if there’s a bug too large for Going-to-be-useful-when-he’s-a-Senator Roommate to kill? Sure, he can usually manage the sporadic fly or moth, and I am always grateful, but I am not sure he’d be able to step up if the insect was truly large and disgusting. Most importantly, what if New York BarBri interferes with Useful Roommate’s promise of coming back for the weekend of my birthday? Being the selfish person that he is, Useful Roommate didn’t take any of these things into consideration in deciding to abandon his beloved roommates as soon as he gets his diploma.

I have not, as of yet, managed to convince Useful Roommate to stay, so I don’t know how qualified I am to advise you to get your roommate to act in your own best interest. All I can tell is what types of bribery will probably not work. However, I do see an obvious solution to your problem. Rather than looking for a set of four people to rent your apartment, you can search for a set of three people to sublet the remaining three bedrooms, and leave your roommate responsible for renting his own room. In addition to solving your problem of getting your bedroom rented and alleviating your financial burden, this provides the added bonus of screwing over your stubborn roommate, since most sublessors would be reluctant to move into a place with a group of people who already know each other.

If that fails, is your roommate very useful? By useful, I mean your roommate must be capable of fixing every item in my apartment. “Every item in my apartment” is not limited to apartment fixtures, but rather includes, but again, is not limited to, things like my laptop, my sunglasses, and my trick handcuffs. Usefulness also means that your roommate will be able to either solve all of my personal problems or put them in proper perspective. Additionally, usefulness would mean that your roommate is willing and able to provide a stream of compliments on my cooking, my clothes, and my hair. If your roommate meets these qualifications, maybe after June 1st he can move into my apartment and replace Useful Roommate? Let me know.