How do I ask a housemate to move out?

I have been living with my housemate for two years and we have become very close friends.  My parents bought this apartment and have decided not to rent out the room anymore as a family member wants it. I hope to retain our friendship even after asking my friend to move out.  How should I approach this?

Telling someone they have to move out can be a difficult conversation, and it’s natural to feel awkward or anxious about this.  It sounds like this has not been your decision but rather your parents’ decision.

If it’s definite that your parents will no longer rent out the room to your friend, then it’s important to be upfront and honest with them so they know where they stand and they have enough time to make other arrangements.  It sounds like you’re not sure how they will take the news, so I’m wondering if there is any reason to think they will be angry or upset with you.  I’m not sure what the past issues are between the two of you, or how much impact this has had on the decision to no longer rent out the room.  It’s possible your friend will understand that it is your parents’ decision and not your own, and will accept that your parents want a family member to live there rather than them.

Whether or not your friendship continues after your friend moves out will ultimately be up to the two of you.  It may take more effort to maintain the relationship as you won’t be seeing each other every day at home, but if you are both committed to making time for each other, and if you are honest with your friend while still taking their feelings into consideration, this will give the best chance for the friendship to continue.

More broadly speaking, delivering bad news to anyone is challenging, and if they are a friend, partner, or family member, this can make it even harder. Some of the things people find useful to do or think about in this regard include: planning (for example how and what you might say), considering timing (for example giving your friend enough notice), delivering the news face-to-face as opposed to other methods, and learning to be OK with the fact that you can’t control the other person’s reactions/responses. You can read some more advice on delivering bad news here and here. Although these links focus more specifically on the workplace (for example telling staff about job cuts), the principles can be applied to everyday interpersonal situations also.


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