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Much Needed Advice

March 27th, 2014 at 03:19 pm

Hey Folks,

So, my sister went through a break up two years ago. She had no place to go and thus, I offered up my home. At that time, I chose not to charge her rent of any kind and also allowed her to house her two cats. Two years later, she is still here, not a penny has ever been paid or offered, her cats have caused about $500.00 worth of damage to the carpets and furniture and frankly, with her graduation from college scheduled in May (yes, she was a very late collegiate bloomer), I believe it's time she takes on some fiscal responsiblity. Thus, I have drafted the following email:

As of May 1, 2014, I will begin charging you rent. The breakdown is as follows and my expectation is that this amount is paid on or before the 1st of each month:

$10.00/month for land line phone usage (if there is an overage of minutes, I will let you know. To date, there has been none and with rollover minutes accumulated, I don't anticipate this being an issue)

$10.00/month Netflix/Sat

$50.00/month Electric/Air

$50.00/month Heat

$10.00/month Garbage

$20.00/month Internet

$150.00/month Base Rent

Total Due per Month: $290.00

I believe after two years, this expectation is fair. I also believe it is much less than you would have to incur if you were living on your own, which I tried hard to consider when making this difficult decision.

Just reply accepting these terms so I know you have received this email.

If you have any questions, please let me know as I would be happy to discuss this with you.


So, what say you? Let me provide one caviate....my parents suggested I do this two years ago.

For the most part, she is no trouble at all. However, it "feels" to me that she views my home as a flop house. A place eat, sleep, do laundry, shower, keep her cats safe, study and keep her belongings.

One expectation I have is that she will reply - "I can't afford it so I'll move out". Therein lies a very sticky feeling for me. First, if she moves out, she will simply just mootch off someone and continue to ride this wave of poverty as long as she can which unto itself, really is not my business. But worse than that, it would confirm that it really only has been a flop house for her and how dare her take on monthly rent elsware versus paying it to her brother.

I know, a lot to digest. But hey, I figured you all would guide me along a fair and commesurate path. Thanks a ton!

10 Responses to “Much Needed Advice”

  1. ceejay74 Says:

    I still think you should do it. BTW, that's a VERY reasonable amount to pay for rent! The least I ever paid was $250 back in 1997, for one room in a house and usage of shared space.

  2. Nika Says:

    She is your sister - you do not feel you can just talk to her in the kitchen over coffee and have to write her an email instead?

    It seems like getting such an "official tone" email would cause kind of deterioration in a relationship, when there is absolutely nothing wrong with you charging her rent at this point. It is just a manner of approaching it. Friendly and not pissed off. And after the conversation, send her the breakdown list, for her convenience/reference.

  3. wife of the deacon Says:


    Does your sister contribute to groceries? Does your sister contribute to watching the kids if/when you have them? Does your sister have a job lined up to start paying this rent upon Graduation?

    I believe that she should have been paying something all the long, but the next logical step is now is the time because she will be graduating/gainfully employed.

    Do you communicate via email? Do you have a history of difficult communication? I think Nika brings up a valid point that this may be very "official", but then again, only you know that state of affairs with your sis. [And FWIW, DH and I have resorted to email communications in very much the same matter when we've been too tired/removed/etc to deal with things face to face).

    Good luck! This might be a very needed wake up call to your sister.

  4. creditcardfree Says:

    I definitely think you are within your rights to request/demand rent. You have been more than accommodating. I'm sure it has been of great help to her in this time of transition (although she may not see it this way).

    I agree with Nika a bit about the approach by email. Does your relationship not allow for a face to face conversation?

    I often tell my kids that if they think, I'm going to say 'no' to something to start out telling me that so I can keep an open mind. I wonder if you can bring up the topic with a line such as "I have some news that may surprise you, or that you aren't expecting, so if you can keep an open mind and just listen." Of course, I sure don't know you sister, so you might know that you can just lay it out.

    Also, if she does say she will move out, then so be it. If she does move out, but realizes it was a bad deal, will you let her come back for $290 a month, or is the deal off the table? Something to consider, especially if you feel she is taking advantage of you. Also what if she doesn't pay even if she says she will? I think it is fair to both of you to have some sort of contract written out in advance.

  5. Miz Pat Says:

    I think this is a good idea. I think also, you are very uncomfortable talking to her about it, so hence the letter.

    It would be good if you could talk to her first, but if you can't the letter is the way to go, but I caution you that she might complain to you that you had to write a letter, blah, blah, blah.

    If that happens, I suggest that you tell her, that exactly what you did to the rest of us, and list them as your fears or concerns, i.e., "I am concerned that you would rather pay someone else rent, then pay me, your brother, when I have done so much for you", "I am concerned you will move out," "I feel bad about the damage your cats did that you did nothing about", "I am concerned as your brother that you are not taking on adult responsibilities that will lead to a life of poverty for you,".

    If you phrase them as your fears and feelings, it is a much better way to discuss them because then they are YOUR FEELINGS and not an attack.

    Just my suggestion.

    I had my two nephews move in with me and when one got 2 jobs (part time) I had him pay me $200 a month. He is using my car, so I asked for another $80 a month for gas. Asking him for the extra money for gas almost killed me, but it actually went quite well. The other nephew hasn't found a job yet, but he makes himself so useful, its hard to push him. However, he does know he has to make his way in life and he's growing.

  6. Mooshocker Says:

    Soooo, first, I am so grateful for your comments thus far. Yes, I do have a communicative relationship with my sister. There are no problems talking between us. The business man in me drafted the email (saved in draft too). It's how I "roll" but certainly see the semblance of impersonality, especially amongst family. Talking to her first, then providing a breakdown of expectations seems like the most logical path to take.

    As far as her contributions at home. She rarely, if ever, purchases food outside of what she likes to eat. She has brought toilet paper, milk, shampoo and a few other small staple items. She also provides for all the cat needs. She has never watched the girls and only a hand full of times has been able to "pick one up" for me. All in all, and it pains me to say it, her former fiance was right. She is truly a leach on those in her life. She stays just far enough out of site to escape the wrath. She doesn't seem to put much stock in taking responsiblity for herself at 32 years old (yes, we are ten years apart). We could not be more opposite in personality, beliefs, faith, needs, wants, desires, etc. This also presents a challenge in that it's hard for me to understand her. That said, overall, her contributions to the "household" range from 0-5% each month and the 5% again may be a 1/2 gallon of milk. In fact, there tends to be 1 pair in the fruit bowl versus four or five for all of us to enjoy.

    Finally, as suggested, if she cleaned once per month, mowed the lawn, helped shovel in the winter, ran some errands, helped with the kids, things would be totally different. And yes, she has worked for the same pizza parlor for 12 years. Makes decent money but is ALWAYS broke.....or so my mom/dad tell me. They enable her with one hand and scold her with the other! LOLOLOLOLOL......God love them!

  7. Bluebird Says:

    Mooshocker, I certainly understand your position. I feel that after you talk with her, you should summarize everything in writing, as to avoid any misunderstandings. I've been in a similar situation with two family members and it took me awhile to come to the conclusion that I was being taken advantage of. It was my fault for letting it go on as long as it did. It might be awkward, but you should have this conversation if that's how you feel.

  8. JulieAlbright Says:

    Sounds quite reasonable to me. My only question is if she has a job lined up post graduation where she'll be able to jump right in paying money? My husband and I put our son on a plan following his graduation - he wasn't living with us but we were paying his rent and giving him an allowance.

    The month of his graduation we paid his bills as usual. Starting the next month we paid half his bills. Then by the 3rd or 4th month we set him free and let him take full responsibility. We felt it was best to let him get his feet under him and build a small savings cushion.

  9. Mooshocker Says:

    Great advice continues to flow. One comment I will make to Julie, if this situation were regarding one or all of my three daughters, my thought process I think would be much more educationally based. I am so impressed with your graduated scale of support with your son! That said, my sister would ride this wave forever. She has been employed by the same pizza parlor for over a decade and although probably has a large sum of student loans, needs to consider what would it have been like be it not for living free! In a nutshell, I really have not time or energy to try to teach her anything. I will certainly speak with her personally versus the email, follow up in writing to avoid confusion and let her decide. I am confident though, she will simply leave and latch on to someone else. I will keep you all up to speed on this one. Very juicy and should be one helluva ride!

    PS - I know PAIR is SPELLED PEAR! LOLOLOLOL

  10. Shiela Says:

    I agree with everyone, face to face would be better and then maybe put it in writing afterwards. Good luck with it all. My brother just moved in with us too (not even a week yet). Right now he is paying $200 a month, he actually offered to pay $400 the same us he was paying when he was renting with couple other friends, plus a 1/3 of utilities. I feel bad making money out of it especially since he is trying really hard to buy a house himself so I told him to just give us $200 per month, it should be just enough.

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