The Moneyist: ‘They’ve shown no remorse’: My relatives agreed to rent my apartment, but they never moved in. I was stuck paying the rent for 2 months


Dear Quentin,

I purchased a home in New Jersey where it’s calm and peaceful.

I have a three-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, New York. The rent is $1,900. I had a verbal rental agreement with relatives (a couple and their three children). They were experiencing some financial hardship, and I wanted to assist in some way.

They agreed to move into my apartment in October. They never did, but their belongings were there. I paid my mortgage and rent for two months, which was a financial burden. I feel betrayed. They have shown no remorse.

I have expressed my feelings to these people, and there was no apology. I really don’t view them in the same way. I told them to remove their things from the apartment. Of course, I was looked upon as the bad person.

‘I paid my mortgage and rent for two months, which was a  financial burden. I feel betrayed. They have shown no remorse.’

Instead, she said she was ready to move at a later date, but I said, “What about the previous rent?” Her response, “Why would I pay if I wasn’t there?” She has shown absolutely no consideration.

I am a single mom with two children trying to balance my budget. I put the rent money on a credit card, and I got a second job to pay for it. It has become financially exhausting.

They are definitely in the wrong, and take no accountability. I did not want to let the apartment go, because it’s rent stabilized and now it’s my son’s apartment, so it really worked out.

I don’t want this to affect our relationship, but it has. I’m being looked upon as a money grubber.

Financially Exhausted

Dear Exhausted,

I’ve heard a lot of good things about New Jersey.

I agree with you: Yes, your relatives were wrong to agree to rent the property, and then renege on their promise, and drag it out for two months. If their belongings were there and you had an agreement, they should have paid you rent.

The next part is slightly more tricky. The kind of people who would do this are not the kind of people who will readily acknowledge their mistake, and apologize for it. You can’t expect people to be something other than they are.

New York rent-stabilized apartments have strict rules about allowing tenants to rent it out if they are not primary residents. I’m assuming you sought permission from the landlord before you made this arrangement.

I commend you for taking a second job to pay off this credit-card bill.

If this rental agreement was not permitted by your landlord, then you took a chance losing this rent-stabilized apartment. That would have put your son’s chances of inheriting it at risk too. But let’s proceed on the basis that you did have permission.

Assuming that, you still didn’t get the rental agreement in writing. You never sought or received a deposit and the first month’s rent before they moved in. That’s on you. You are responsible for covering your bases, especially if you have no cashflow.

I commend you for taking a second job to pay off this credit-card bill. But you should feel less angry at your relatives for playing fast and loose with your money and your trust, if you acknowledge that were too casual with your own finances.

If you give people enough rope they’ll use it to tie you in knots. For some folks, it’s not about what’s right and wrong. They may or may not know the difference. Or they make all sorts of excuses why it’s OK to do what they do.

It’s a hard lesson to learn.

Yocan email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at, and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in 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:

• I live with my girlfriend, 59, who owns several homes and has saved $3 million. I pay utilities and cable, and do lots of repairs. Is that enough?
• ‘He is the most computer-illiterate person I know’: I was my husband’s research analyst, caregiver, cook and housekeeper. Now he wants a divorce after 38 years.
• ‘Our friends always yearned for a relationship like ours’: My husband of 16 years left me for another man. I don’t want them to live in our properties. What can I do?

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