Losing a loved one is devastating.
The hole left by that person can be filled with trauma, depression, and a host of other problems.
The kindness of our friends can see us through this dark time, of course.
The trouble is, at what point does a friend’s support go from helpful to enabling?
This was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) troublewithrent when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for some outside opinions.
“AITA for asking my roommate to pay rent after her mom died?”
She began with the background.
“I (Female 25) live with my roommate (F 27).”
“I would say that we are fairly good friends, but not especially close.”
Then got to the beginning of the situation at hand.
“About three or four weeks ago, my roommate’s mom passed away unexpectedly.”
“My roommate was understandably devastated. She flew home for a few days, but she has mostly been staying at our place.”
“She asked for fewer shifts at her job, so she only goes in for a few hours 3 days a week (she used to be full time). When she’s not at work, she lays in bed or calls her dad.”
“I feel so awful for her.”
“Without asking, I took over almost all of the household duties.”
“I’ve been cooking her meals, cleaning the whole house, etc… I even offered to clean her bathroom (we don’t share one), and she took me up on it.”
OP did explain her specific issue.
“Earlier this week, she was sitting on the couch reading a book and I asked her if she would give me her rent money so I could give it to our landlord.”
“She said ‘you want me to pay rent after my mom just died? That’s kind of mean.’ She said that she hasn’t been working much, so she can’t really afford rent anyway.”
“I don’t blame her at all for not working much because she’s obviously going through a difficult time.”
“I am a grad student, so I don’t have much money.”
“I technically have enough money to pay for our rent this month, but I would have to dip into my small savings account and I really don’t want to do that.”
“Also, I am nervous about setting a precedent where she thinks it’s okay for me to pay all of our rent and utilities.”
“Our rent was due on the 1st, but I asked our landlord for a 2-week extension, and he was willing to be flexible.”
“So now our rent is due on the 14th. My roommate still keeps insisting that I should cover it because she is grieving, but I keep pushing back and insisting that she pay her part.”
“She called me an a**hole, and our mutual friend also said I should just suck it up and pay her part.”
She was left to wonder,
“So, AITA for not paying her rent?”
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for outside opinions.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some pointed out that responsibilities don’t change with your circumstances.
“If your roommate had a mortgage or a their own lease, they would be responsible for either making the payment or a negotiating hardship relief.”
“The fact that she has a roommate doesn’t absolve her of this responsibility.” ~ AITHASNTEEN
“Tell your roommate.”
‘I’ve very sorry for your loss, but I don’t have the money to cover your half of the rent. The landlord has given us an extra two weeks to pay, but I’ll only be able to pay my portion, you’ll need to take care of the rest.’ “
“People, unfortunately, lose loved ones all the time, but the world doesn’t stop for us. We have to keep going, and that means paying bills.” ~ crystallz2000
Others suggested that OP’s roommate seek assistance of one sort or another.
“There are rental assistance programs she can look into, especially if she’s not generating a lot of income right now.”
“This is just unfortunate.”
“I don’t doubt she’s in pain and that her life would be easier if she didn’t have to pay rent. OP’s life would also be easier if she didn’t have to pay rent. If she was living alone, who would she ask to cover?” ~ Neurotic_Bakeder
“Grief doesn’t halt bills.”
“At least she has a place to live right now.”
“If she doesn’t pay rent, she’ll be in grief AND homeless.”
“Let her know that if she can’t cover rent by the deadline your landlord gave, you will be searching for a roommate that can.”
“She sounds like she may be depressed judging from her lack of motivation to pay rent, so basic chores, or go to work.”
“Suggest counseling to her. If she’s a student too, then her university should offer free counseling services.”
“Gently remind her that even if you are depressed and in grief, one cannot simply stop watering their garden.”
“Their flowers will wither and it will be more work to mend it back to health. You don’t have enough water for both you and her’s garden.” ~ Pugnastyornah
There were personal stories.
“I literally had to go to work the day my mother died because no work no pay.”
“She died at 5am in my arms I went in to work at 10.”
“I was going to have to take time off for her funeral so therefore needed to work to pay bills when I could. It was shit but I did it.”
“OP your housemate will take advantage of you for as long and I’m every way you let her.”
“It sucks losing your Mum, it really does but her first priority must be paying for the roof over her head. This is not your responsibility.”
“Do not tell her you can afford it if you dip into your savings they are for if you have an emergency.” ~ AngelsAttitude
“Fun Fact: our house burned down. We learned you still have to pay the mortgage.”
“Hopefully you didn’t decline the living expenses coverage, because you have to pay rent, too (which can be covered by your policy)”
“Sh*t happens, but if you want a roof over your head, you have to make the payment.” ~ Apprehensive_Title38
“Your roomate is a grown woman with responsibilities. Just because she gets bereavement time from work does not mean she gets to stop paying her bills!”
“I remember the day my Dad died. My Mom didn’t quit her job or stop paying her mortgage. She had three kids to finish raising and a life to continue living.”
“Grieving is one thing. Skimming money from your friends is another. Your mutual friend can pay for her share since she feels it’s the ‘right thing for friends to do‘.”
Commenters even gave suggested scripting for how to have the conversation.
“NTA – Umm, you don’t magically have more money just because her mom died.”
” ‘I know you are struggling, but I cannot afford to cover your rent.’ “
” ‘I have done my best to pick up more of the house chores the last few weeks because I know you are struggling, but I do not have the money to help you financially.’ “
” ‘I was able to get us a two-week extension, but I need you to give me your share by the 14th. Otherwise we could be evicted.’ “
“Make dipping into your savings the ABSOLUTE last option. And definitely don’t offer it to her as a solution. You will need that money if this living situation falls apart.” ~ Forward_Squirrel8879
There were also warnings that Roommate might be taking advantage of OP.
“DO NOT PAY HER PORTION. You will keep paying it until you break the lease when you have run out of money.”
“I’m sorry her mother passed, but bills still need to get paid.”
“If she can’t pay, you need to tell your landlord ASAP.”
“Tell your roommate, that you’ve been helping with her portion of her chores and doing everything you can to assist her as you can see she is clearly not in a stable position, but you do not have the funds to pay the bills.”
“You will be telling the landlord that you only have enough for your portion and also lock your door now.”
“Also, if your mutual friend says you should suck it up, ask her to pay your roommates portion. Watch what she says when she doesn’t have the money. Why does she expect you to?” ~ Dionysus-0613
OP did return with a brief update.
“Edit: thank you for all the responses! I followed your advice and took my half of the rent to the landlord this morning. So now at least if she doesn’t pay, it’s between her and the landlord.”
Everyone deserves help.
Whether it’s a loss in the family or a rough day everybody needs a hand up every now and then.
The difficulty is offering a helping hand while still encouraging the other person to help themselves too.