Ask Kari: What can I do about my messy roommate?

Dear Kari,

I own a three-bedroom house and rent rooms out. One of the tenants is both a friend and a co-worker of mine. The problem is she is a slob. My friend /tenant will leave laundry rotting in the washer, dishes in the sink, clothes in the hallway, and she refuses to throw out old food in the fridge. I like her personally, but her bad habits are beginning to make me crazy. I know that I could find someone else to rent the room to, as it’s a hot rental market around here, but I think if I ask her to leave it will ruin our friendship. What do you think I should so.

– Worn Down and Fed Up

Dear Worn Down and Fed Up,

You did not state if you have already shared your feelings about your friend/tenant’s habits in your home, so I will assume that you have not. I suggest that you pick a good time to talk with her and have a serious conversation about what needs to change if she wants to remain your roommate. Plan ahead of time the 3-5 things that she most needs to change to remain living in your home. Then share them with her during your meeting. Stay focused on the 3-5 things. A whole range of issues can lead to limited resolution as people can become overwhelmed when too many issues are thrown at them. Ask her to agree to change her habits, with the understanding that doing so will help her live more cohesively with her roommates/you. If she is non-responsive to your concerns and feelings, it may be best to ask her to make other living arrangements, as she is signaling to you that your desires and household rules do not matter to her. Good luck.


As published in the October 2018 issue of Connections.


About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a resident of Issaquah Highlands.

This column is for entertainment purposes only. If you are in crisis and in need of support please contact the Crisis Clinic at 866-427-4747.

Email your Ask Kari questions to [email protected] or use our online form. All email user personal information will remain confidential and not be published.