Advicereality check

Reality Check

I own a house. I no longer live in it, since my fiancé has a perfectly lovely house in a nicer part of town than mine. I rent my house out to a very good friend of mine. This friend, whom I will call John, is a former boyfriend and a total fuck-up, but he is incredibly endearing and we have known each other for years. I really do love him, but he also drives me crazy (hence our lack of relationship). He is in his 40s, a PhD student in something that he will never make money at, and he can never hold down a job. He is also an alcoholic who likes recreational drugs (more reasons it couldn’t work between us).

He sublets two of the rooms in my house to a rotating lineup of people who vary in levels of dependability, to put it mildly. There have been times before where he was late with the rent, and he would come to me and tell me he was waiting for a loan check, or waiting for the next tenant to move in, or whatever. I am in decent financial shape, so I have always been accommodating, and I know that he will eventually pay me when he can because he values our friendship as much as I do. (I know I am making him sound like shit, but that’s because his problems are the reason I am writing to you. I won’t bother with all the flowery prose about what a good friend he has been to me, etc., but know that he has and that he doesn’t totally suck as a human being or a friend.) Also, I like knowing that he is the one in my house because despite all of his faults I know he won’t cause any damage or let anyone else cause any damage, he will tell me when things need fixing and, more often than not, fix them himself. He takes care of the place like it’s his own.

Anyway, the last couple months have been rough. I recently had a baby, so I am not seeing as much of John or anyone else. He has missed the rent in both May and June, and he has called and said he wanted to see me and explain it and set up a payment plan, etc. I have actually failed to call him back because I am busy and tired and I know he will pay me eventually. So, yesterday I finally got around to calling him back, and he asked me to either come over or meet him somewhere. I stopped by the house and he explained to me that he was not going to be able to continue school next semester (he described it as “taking a semester offâ€) due to a grant being cut or something, and he also told me about his current roommate. She apparently moved in at the end of May, and he told her she could start paying rent on June first. She has not paid him yet. He has confronted her, left her notes and stopped by to see her at work. She is not paying. He did get another tenant for the other room, so he was able to pay me more than half of May. He asked the non-paying tenant to get out and gave her until the end of the week—all well and good.

So, he made a payment plan with me, but he has no job, so I don’t know how he intends to keep it. He then started talking about a great new woman he’s dating, and how much fun he has been having with her—drinking on his credit card, he said—and he thought there could be a real future here. All great news. Then he went to the bathroom, and I noticed a bag of what I know damned well was cocaine sitting in the kitchen. I know he does it, and when I used to see him out and obviously high, I just assumed he was mooching it off of one of his friends, but seeing that bag there just kind of made me sick. I mean, part of the problem is that I care about him and I wish he would get his shit together, but now all I can think about is the fact that he is a month behind on his rent and that money is sitting in a small plastic bag next to the fucking toaster oven. I don’t want to get all holier-than-thou on him, but what the fuck? Can I say something? Should I? And what should I say?

Frustrated Landlord

Money and friends are a very difficult combination, FL. I won’t go into how shitty this is, and how it makes him seem as a person to the rest of us. I know you are close to the man, FL, but this is pretty bad. If you are more concerned about preserving the friendship than you are about getting paid on time, I would keep your mouth shut. You said you were financially pretty comfortable, so it may be less bother to just put the money and the drugs out of your mind and hope for the best. You don’t know where the coke came from. Maybe it was a gift from his delightful new ladyfriend? Maybe they belong to a roommate? In any case, if you choose to say something, you should not base what you say on the drugs. What you should do is tell him that you need the money, and give him a deadline and stick to it. If he can’t pay, tell him that you need the money and that you don’t want the stress of it to affect your friendship, and ask him to move out. I know it seems like I am oversimplifying, but those are your only choices. When you’re friends with an asshole (and no matter how great he is in other ways, FL, the guy is an asshole), sometimes you’re going to get shit on.