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Couple questions fairness of rent agreement with roommate

Posted: December 27, 2011 2:58 p.m.
Updated: December 28, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Dear Annie: I recently moved in with my boyfriend, “Beau,” and his roommate, “Scott.” Scott is usually at his girlfriend’s house, so Beau and I pretty much have the place to ourselves. Scott splits the bills with us while unofficially living with his girlfriend.

Scott makes the payments, and we reimburse him in cash. The problem is, on more than one occasion, I’ve noticed he has been late. I just found out that the water bill is three months past due and they are ready to shut it off. We have already paid Scott our share, but I think he expects us to pay two-thirds of the past-due amount.

I refuse to pay for this again, but don’t know how to say it. Should we let it go? Do we ask him to write a receipt? That seems extreme, and Scott is a close friend. Moving out is not an option. What do we do? -- No Way, I Won’t Pay

Dear No Way: It is unfair to pay twice for the same bill. But it’s also unfair that Scott pays a third of the costs for a place he rarely uses. Offer to restructure your rental arrangements with Scott, and then perhaps you or Beau could take over the bill paying and let Scott reimburse you. And make sure he gets a receipt.

Dear Annie: My sister is snide and competitive and makes hateful comments whenever we’re together. She’s a bully who has made my life difficult for the past 10 years. I tried to make things right for my parents’ sake, until I realized they were too spineless to say no to her. These days, I rarely speak to her.

Her wedding is in three months, and I told her I would not be attending. After all, if she dislikes me so much, why would she want me there anyway? Now, of course, she is furious, calling me all sorts of names.

My parents are hurt that I won’t attend, and my grandmother says she doesn’t know what’s gotten into me. Frankly, I don’t care what they think. But I do care what my aunts, uncles, cousins and mutual acquaintances will believe about me if I don’t show up. If they ask what’s going on, I will tell them, but I’m sure my sister will come up with an alternate version, and who knows which one of us they will believe? They never notice how she treats me.

If I boycott the wedding, a huge number of people connected to my family will look at me as the worst kind of person. What should I do? -- Massachusetts

Dear Massachusetts: When you take a stand, you must be willing to live with the consequences: Avoid the wedding and take your lumps from the relatives, or attend and hope your sister will behave. But we also think you should tell your sister how much it hurts when she bullies and belittles you, and ask why she finds it necessary to treat you this way. If you can get to the root of her animosity, perhaps things could improve.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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