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Homeowner Balks When Roommate Demands Reimbursement For Hotel After Hot Water Goes Out

Karen Moskowitz/Getty Images

Most of us have been in at least one annoying situation where we found ourselves complaining about our experience and wanting our money back.

But generally, when we want compensation, we ask about it first, reasoned the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit, rather than demanding it unexpectedly.

That’s why when Redditor SheHadAStaycation was told to reimburse their tenant for a hotel stay she had because they were without hot water, they were shocked.

If she had discussed the hotel stay with them in advance, the Original Poster (OP) reasoned that at least a partial reimbursement might have been reasonable.

They asked the sub:

“AITA for refusing to pay for her hotel room?”

The OP invited a tenant to stay in their home.

“I rent out the spare bedroom in my house for $800 a month (market rate in my area).”

“I don’t know my roommate very well, but we work for the same company.”

“I work early mornings and she works late evenings. So we’re often ships passing in the night.”

When the water heater broke, the OP let the tenant know.

“On Friday, my hot water heater broke. The home warranty guys said they couldn’t get anyone out until Monday morning.”

“It’s hot as balls right now, so I wasn’t too upset. A few cold showers won’t kill anyone.”

“I texted my tenant, ‘Hot water is out until Monday.'”

“She responded simply with a ‘thumbs-up’ emoji.”

“I didn’t see her all weekend, which is normal, as I said.”

“The guy got here at 8 AM on Monday to fix the heater.”

“When he was done, I texted her to let her know the hot water was back on.”

The response the OP got surprised them.

“She hit me with this gem, ‘My hotel bill was $250. Do you want to reimburse me now or deduct it from next month’s rent?'”

“I stared at the text for a good while. I didn’t even know she was gone.”

“She got a hotel room just for hot water? That’s so extra. She could have showered at work, but she got a hotel room?”

“I texted, ‘Hey, I didn’t know you left. Rent is still due in full on the first of the month, regardless of if you choose to sleep elsewhere for a weekend.'”

“She texted me back, ‘There was no water. I couldn’t stay there. You’re my landlord and have to provide me with livable accommodations.'”

“I texted back, ‘There was water, just not hot. If it was winter, you might have a point.'”

“I added, ‘The rent is still due in full. Failure to pay rent will result in me filing with the court, which will impact your credit.'”

“She stopped responding.”

The OP later wondered if they unnecessarily escalated the situation.

“I texted a friend, who said I was way too harsh and should have just countered with a $50 discount for those two days or something.”

“Which, sure, if she’d asked for a $50 reduction, that would have been reasonable.”

“But I’m not paying for her hotel, and the audacity of her to ask me p**ses me off.”

“But I know jumping to talking about filing in thirty days was a bit dramatic.”

“Was I the a**hole?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some pointed out that the situation might call for reimbursement.

“From my state’s ‘Tenant’s Rights and Landlord’s Duties’:”

“‘The landlord must keep making all repairs or do whatever is necessary to keep the rental unit habitable. The landlord must also maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, and ventilation systems supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord in safe working conditions. Running water and reasonable amounts of hot water and heat must always be supplied.'”

“What does yours say?” – Throwaway1303033042

“Depends on the jurisdiction, but hot water required for habitability is very common for health code reasons, like heat in winter.”

“In my state, it’s required, with the usual wiggle room of ‘reasonable amount of time,’ for repairs. Which next business day certainly fits.” – Meghanshadow


“You don’t mind a cold shower. That’s fine, but you suck for assuming your tenant feels the same way.”

“She sucks for being passive-aggressive about the $250.”

“Both of you need to communicate better and compromise.” – Embarrassed-Sweet905

“Not having hot water is what’s called a habitability violation. In my state, the landlord would owe the tenant a discount in the form of pro-rated rent. In your case, that would come to $26.67 per day the water heater was out of commission, assuming a 30-day month.”

“ESH. You need to learn your responsibility as a landlord. She needs to talk to you before expecting reimbursement for a hotel. You both need to learn to communicate.” – IAmHeardingCatz

“Personally, I think she should have offered like 100$ discount and offered for her to shower at work. I can tell you for sure that if I had to take time out of my weekend to go to work, I would be unhappy.”

“30 minutes each way on public transit plus metro tickets. x 2 days minimum. So 7$ per day transport. So 14$ transport and 2 extra hours. I get paid 30$/h. So 67$. If I have to carry my thing or modify my weekend plans, extra inconvenience. 100$ seems fair.”

“The tenant situation might be different… maybe they drive and gas is expensive. Maybe work is far. Maybe they have to pay for parking. Maybe their workplace is one of those where if you go in on a day off, you get pulled in to work or meetings.”

“Maybe the showers are gross. It really doesn’t matter why they chose not to shower at work.”

“She lives in a house and having hot water is pretty basic. If the landlord has another solution for the days missing water, she can make a good suggestion and see if the tenant agrees.”

“But OP didn’t offer anything. She just informed her tenant and thinks cold showers are no big deal. IMO she is the landlord and it’s for her to find a compromise.”

“Lastly, if she wants to maintain the tenant, she should just pay it and ensure better communication in the future. Both need to communicate better. As far as OP said in their post, she has a basically invisible roommate (aka the best kind).”

“Especially since she didn’t mention issues with her paying on time the rent. I would want to keep that type of roommate. Or they can go through the eviction process, waste tons of time, and maybe some money.”

“The judge will probably still give some rebate to the tenant even if they evict them. Then they have to find a new tenant who may not be as good. Its a lot of trouble for 250$.” – purplehippobi**hes

Others thought that everyone involved needed to work on their communication skills.

“OP was not shirking his responsibility as a landlord. He let his tenant know there was a problem and she sent him a ‘thumbs-up’ emoji.”

“If I were OP, I’d assume this meant ‘no worries,’ because that’s what a thumbs up usually means.”

“If the tenant decided to go to a hotel and also expected her landlord to foot the bill, she should have discussed that with him. In the middle of a heat wave, a couple of days without hot water is not that big a deal.”

“The tenant should have conveyed her concerns to the landlord if she felt she simply could not have survived a weekend without hot water and discussed the hotel with the landlord before choosing one that costs so much (in relation to the rent). OP does owe the tenant some compensation but not $250.” – WarLazy7979

“OP said there were shower facilities at work. That typically means a gym of some sort. If hot water was that critical to her, she could have showered at work.”

“Just to arbitrarily check into a hotel without notifying OP was unacceptable.”

“Also, OP’s threat to go to court was over the top and will probably cost him a tenant.” – TechnicianOk1466

“Where I live, the landlord is responsible for timely repairs and maintenance. She got the hot water fixed on the next business day, so there would be no discounts or violations.”

“The tenant is the a**hole for getting a hotel room and telling the landlord to pay after the fact. If she wanted OP to pay for a hotel, that should have been a Friday conversation.” – WonderingWaffle

“ESH. The tenant should have confirmed beforehand, and the landlord was overly harsh by threatening to go to court. At this point, everyone should consult a lawyer.” – noteworthybalance

“I’m actually a lawyer and your tenant/roommate is being ridiculous. She didn’t communicate and didn’t check in with you about getting a hotel.”

“There were also less costly options available to her. She went 2.5 days during the summer without hot water and you got the water issue taken care of quickly. That’s not some serious breach at all.”

“If I were you, I’d charge the full rent and take her to court if she doesn’t pay. You could represent yourself pro se. I wouldn’t want to rent to someone who acts like this. This is just going to be the tip of the iceberg.” – briberylibrary

While the subReddit could agree that having no hot water would be frustrating for the weekend, they could not agree about how this situation was handled.

Ideally, both the OP and their tenant would have communicated better about what they needed. The tenant could have presented their concerns and asked about compensation up-front, but the OP also could have offered something, as well.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit