Ask Someone Else's Mom by Susan Writer

Three-Way Split of Expenses Not Working

DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I live in a townhouse with two other guys. I travel a lot for my work and since I am home the least, I was okay with taking the smallest bedroom. Even though I have a smaller room than the other two guys, we split the rent and the expenses evenly, which I am fine with.

What I am not so fine with is that one of the guys had a party while the other two of us were not around and the basement room we call “The Cave” got pretty trashed. The landlord was in with the HVAC guy for some work that needed to be done last week and he saw what our roommate and his buddies did, and he is not happy. He said that wallboard has to be replaced, and so does the carpet, not to mention the recessed light fixtures.

I think the landlord is right to pass on the costs of the repairs now, and not wait to take it out of the security deposit when we move out. But now the roommate who is responsible for the mess is saying we all three have to pay evenly for the repairs, because we agreed to share all the expenses. The other two of us told him no way, but he’s telling us it’s part of the agreement. Is he right? --- NOT LOOKING TO PAY FOR HIS MESS

DEAR NOT LOOKING TO PAY FOR HIS MESS: That your landlord didn’t give you guys the boot is what I find surprising.

When you agreed to share expenses evenly, you probably didn’t foresee your current situation, and if you did, you chose at least one of your roommates poorly. Splitting living expenses usually means costs like rent, utilities, shared kitchen/cleaning/laundry supplies. What happened during your absence exceeds those areas and becomes its own line item outside the agreement ─ unless you have it in writing that you share and share alike in all expenses. If that’s the case, you may very well be stuck paying a third of the costs.

My advice to you is cut your losses and find a new roommate or place to live as soon as your current lease is up.

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