Edited questions from Apartment Life, Sara Gebhardt's online discussion about rental issues.
Maryland: I'm moving from my apartment in August. My small building has a wonderful, friendly, competent live-in handyman who has been very helpful fixing any problem I have -- even non-emergencies -- promptly and respectfully. Our building is quite old, so I've needed his help more than once. I would like to show my appreciation somehow. What would be appropriate? I feel weird writing him a check. Thanks!
Perhaps give him a gift certificate to a neighborhood restaurant or local book/music store. You could also give him a gift card to go to the movies. I'm sure he'll greatly appreciate anything you give him.
Falls Church: My roommate proposed to his girlfriend recently. Both great people, very happy for them, etc. The problem: I'm already in the midst of wedding-planning hell. They're always camped out in our living room -- debating, strategizing, agonizing. Any thoughts on how to preserve my sanity?
Wedding-planning hell should not ruin a happy home, especially for someone who's not even involved in the wedding. Is there any way you can ask your roommate to use another room for all the wedding strategizing? Remind him that you live there too and that the living room has suffered enough -- thanks to reality television -- at the hands of emotional wedding planning. If he and his fiancee are good people who haven't yet been brainwashed into thinking that every day is "their day," a simple compromise should work.
Anytown, USA: Roomie and boyfriend: How to deal with it all? Plus she never cleans -- How do I initiate a cleaning schedule? And I am getting tired of her asking me where I am going and with whom, etc. How to deal with that?
Be evasive, aloof, entirely grumpy, and your roommate may stop annoying you. And in the process, you might have an even more awkward, worse living situation colored by silent tension and growing resentment.
So, how do you really deal with it? Have a frank discussion with your roommate and remind her that her boyfriend is not on the lease and that you wish he weren't over so often. Sure, she might not like that suggestion at all, but perhaps they will start spending time at his place. As far as cleaning, discuss this with her, too, and see if she would be okay with a schedule. And answer only the questions you want to. You're an adult.
Washington: Regarding your response about the roomie and boyfriend situation: I am in a similar situation except I am the roomie with the boyfriend. What is considered acceptable? I may have my boyfriend over a couple of times a week for dinner, but my roommate, who usually camps out in her room 24/7 anyway, complained to me that my boyfriend is here "all the time." Obviously an overreaction -- how do I handle this?
This is something that requires an honest discussion. Does she camp out in her room even when he's not over? People have different perceptions, and if somebody feels that her space is being unfairly invaded, she may not change her mind. Usually a better situation when perceptions do not match is to move on and move out or to spend more time at your boyfriend's place.
Sara Gebhardt's Apartment Life column appears biweekly in this section, and her Web chat appears monthly on www.washingtonpost.com. The next chat is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12.