My boyfriend and I come from completely different backgrounds. I am in my mid-30s and he is 40. We both own our own homes, and had a life built prior to meeting. We have now been together for five years and we have lived only at my house for the last 2.5 years.
Here’s the rub: My boyfriend feels that he should not have to pay me anything for living in my house as he owns his own house, and he is not ready to rent it out yet. He also feels that because I have two kids at home he should not be responsible for any bills at my house.
He is using my utilities, my supplies (cleaning, toilet paper, etc.) and putting wear and tear on my house by staying here 24/7. He is not interested in purchasing anything together when things break or need to be replaced because, as he reminds me, it is not his house.
Should he be paying me at least some amount for solely living in my house? Should we keep everything separate given that he has his own place that he is paying for, but not residing in? What do you think of his inflexible stance on our financial situation?
Homeowner & Mother
Money is not a romantic topic. But not broaching the subject in a timely and respectful manner can kill your romance.
File this under “S” for “Some People.” Some people will count every bean, and resist every effort to be a team player, while others will go to any lengths to help another person — contribute to bills, carry their shopping bags up the subway stairs, helping a person who is visually impaired to cross a busy street while others stare on paralyzed by their own nerves.
Given that there are two adults and two children in the household, he should pay at least one-quarter of these bills, if not more. Even though he does not rent his home, and it’s lying empty while he spends his days and nights with you, he should consider paying you at least a nominal amount of money for rent, and also contribute to your family’s food and utility bills.
Bottom line: 2.5 years is a long time to live with you rent- and bill-free. Tell him to rent out his home, or go home. If he makes a profit over and above his own mortgage repayments, he should pay you something to live with you. I suggest half of the profit he makes on his own home, assuming that would still equate to a “token” amount below the market rate for rent.
“Given that there are four people in the household, he should pay at least one-quarter of these bills, if not more. ”
Let’s now talk about the things that could have gone wrong, but didn’t: You have not commingled your finances, you did not get a joint credit card or put money into a joint savings account — one in which either party could withdraw money without the other’s consent. Plus, he knows the expenses involved in maintaining a home. It would not hurt to remind him of that.
However, there are no victims here. Managing expectations and boundaries before you jump are important. You are both adults. The time to have the conversation about splitting bills and rent, and any other domestic responsibilities was in the weeks before your boyfriend moved in. Does he, for instance, leave all the housework to you if you don’t have a housekeeper?
Whatever you decide, put it in writing. That way, there can be no misunderstanding. No one is twisting his arm: He pays his way, or he can move out. Expecting to live with you for free without paying any expenses whatsoever is beyond the pale. More importantly, it seems unlikely that his unwillingness to contribute is isolated behavior. Fair warning: None of this bodes well for his future behavior.
Your live-in boyfriend should have a shiny red flag pinned to his lapel, although you would probably have to pay for that too.
Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.
You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at email@example.com.
Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.
The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.
More from Quentin Fottrell:
‘We can practically finish each other’s sentences’: I’m getting married in 2023. I want a prenup. She wants to merge our finances. What’s my next move?
‘I want to meet someone rich. Is that so wrong?’ I’m 46, earn $210,000, and own a $700,000 home. I’m tired of dating ‘losers.’
‘I want to thrive’: I’m 29, work part-time, and left a 15-year abusive relationship. How do I get back on my feet financially?