Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Caught Snooping on Father's Computer

DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend, "Luisa," moved into my apartment while looking for a place of her own. Although she promised me that she’d be with me for only a few weeks, this has turned into two months. I don’t mind her living with me, but I think it’s time to negotiate rent. How can I tell Luisa that it is time for her to start paying? -- New Roommate, Jersey City, New Jersey

DEAR NEW ROOMMATE: Call a meeting with Luisa when you have time to talk. Ask her when she thinks she will be moving into her own place. This is important in establishing a timeline that you can attempt to hold her responsible for honoring. Next, point out that she initially asked if she could stay with you for a few weeks, and this has extended to two months.

Let her know that if she thinks she will need to stay more than another week, it is time for her to split the rent with you. She may balk at this requirement. If she does, tell her that you understand this is a difficult time for her, which is why you let her stay with you temporarily. Clarify that while you did not invite her to live with you, you have welcomed her into your home. At this point, she is more like a roommate. While she stays with you, she needs to contribute to the household expenses, including rent. This is not an unreasonable request.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)