When Roommates, Rent, and Real Estate Collide

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In an era of soaring real estate costs, many people seek harmony with roommates, splitting expenses and spaces. Yet, when the lines between roommate and landlord blur, it presents a unique situation fraught with misunderstandings and questions about transparency.

Such was the case for one social media user whose experience sheds light on the delicate balance between homeownership rights and roommate relations.

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Inheritance Opportunity

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The original poster (OP) begins by sharing that he had recently come into an unexpected inheritance. After OP’s last remaining grandparent passed away, his father became the beneficiary of several assets, including a house. This posed an opportunity for OP, who had been diligently saving for a house down payment. OP’s father offered him a chance to buy the family home at a rate slightly below market value.

Rental Dilemma

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Fast forward to the present. With a finished basement apartment comprising two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living area, and a small kitchenette, the idea of renting out this space started appealing to OP. In the meantime, OP’s friend shared that his brother, who happens to be a new teacher, is in search of affordable housing in the city. With altruistic intentions, OP offered the basement at a rent significantly below the market rate, a mere $650, inclusive of utilities.

Tenant Misunderstanding

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However, the harmony was short-lived. OP shared that a recent conversation revealed that the roommate was under the impression that he was merely living with a roommate, unaware that OP was also his landlord. This revelation triggered feelings of deceit and exploitation, as the roommate felt he had been paying OP’s mortgage without his knowledge. This misunderstanding had strained the tenant-landlord relationship, leaving both parties unsettled and in need of resolution.

Debate Over Responsibilities

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OP told the roommate that OP’s mortgage was none of his concern and that he should be happy that he is getting a nice and tidy place to live at a great price that he also can afford to pay for. OP shared that while some of his friends and family members think that OP is right, most of them think that OP was wrong for making his roommate cover OP’s mortgage. Perplexed, OP turned to the online community to seek advice on whether he was in the wrong for making his roommate cover $650 of his $775/month mortgage.

Online Opinions

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One user, ahopskip_andajump, aptly pointed out the basic tenets of renting, expressing disbelief at the roommate’s reaction.

“OMG, are they freaking serious?! What [do] they think people do when they rent? They cover the landlord’s mortgage payment!”

BetweenWeebandOtaku weighed in on the situation, asserting that the real issue at hand wasn’t about the mortgage.

“The question isn’t the mortgage. It’s a fair market rate for what he’s getting. I get the shock he’s feeling, but he’s not entitled to free housing just because you’re friends.”

More Support

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Expanding on this sentiment, ChaosAside posited an interesting hypothetical scenario: If the house had been fully paid off with no outstanding mortgage, would OP’s roommate expect to live there for free?

Similarly, snarkyshark83 highlighted the absence of deceit on OP’s part.

This user opined that OP didn’t hide his ownership, and as such, he was under no obligation to reduce the rent or make any other concessions for the roommate. If the roommate was so disgruntled, perhaps he should consider other housing options.

Lastly, Ask_Amy chimed in with a dose of reality for the disgruntled tenant.

“$650 for a two-bedroom with utilities included?? I don’t think you could get that good a deal in Oklahoma. ”

The Verdict

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The original post reveals a homeowner grappling with the ethics of charging a friend below-market rent. Commenters highlighted the importance of fair market value and the roommate’s entitlement to neither free housing nor intimate knowledge of OP’s financial arrangement.

While opinions varied, the consensus suggests that OP’s actions were reasonable, and the roommate’s reaction may have been unjustified given the affordable housing opportunity they were offered.

Ultimately, this case highlights the delicate balance between generosity and clear communication in shared living arrangements, leaving the final judgment to personal perspectives on the dynamics of rental relationships.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments. Do you think the OP from this social media post was wrong?

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Pri Kingston

Ash & Pri are the Founders of AshandPri.com and have spent the last decade building their way towards financial freedom and a lifetime of memories. Having successfully achieved their early retirement goal in under 10 years, they look forward to sharing their financial sense with like-minded people. Read more about Ash & Pri in the 'About Us' section.