What To Do With The House Guest From Hell?

I think it’s fair to say that October is a universally beautiful month. Whether you have red leaves, cool air, or constant sunshine like we do in San Francisco – for 31 straight days it’s hard to complain too much about the weather. So we here in the Bay Area have to find something else to complain about, and judging by the constant griping emanating from Matt’s cube, this week it is HOUSE GUESTS. Matt seems to have a revolving door of visitors in his apartment and so perhaps is more plagued by freeloaders than the rest of us – but we’ve all had house guests at some point in our lives. There are several varieties of house guests ranging from the ‘awesome’ to the ‘awful’ — let’s discuss 4 of the main types. As I’m sure Matt can attest, it is impossible to cover every aspect, both good and bad, of house guests in just four categories. But sweeping over-generalizations are awesome! Let’s just roll with that.

Matt’s input: I defer to the previously established Rules of Couch Surfing as the end all be all of authority regarding house guest etiquette. Of course those rules are more applicable to the potential relocator and are therefore designed to subjugate the guest to humiliating indentured servitude to incentivize them to get their own place.

The basic rules for guests who are on vacation should be something like supply essential provisions (items that a hotel would provide for free and food), don’t mess with the morning bathroom routine, do not change how the apartment smells and for the love of all that is holy just buy some ice cream or a plant or a bathroom mat or something that I don’t want to spend money on or just some material representation of gratitude. Expletive!

1. House Guest Of The Year!

The HGOTY is a rare and almost mythical creature. Not only do they show up with some token of their appreciation for our hospitality (or booze, both are welcome) – but they go out of their way to contribute to running the household. Need a few groceries? Toilet paper? They’re on it! Want to use your dishes or supplies? You find them washed and put back where they belong. Need to get out of the house early for work? They respectfully stay out of your way! Need to take care of a few things without feeling suffocated by intruders? No problem – they have tons of things they can go do or see on their own. Want to hang out and do something fun? They are TOTALLY DOWN. Treasure these types of house guests, my friends, as chances are they are your best friends already. And remember to invite them back!

2. The Good-Enough House Guest

The GEHG may or may not bring a host/ess gift, but they are considerate enough that it doesn’t matter whether they do or not. They keep their room/couch/air mattress tidy, clean up after themselves, and aren’t too reliant on you for entertainment. They want to hang out if you want to – otherwise, they can keep themselves occupied. GEHG’s are often guests you don’t know particularly well – friends-of-friends who are in town for an interview, a conference, or traveling on a budget. They will often go out of their way to make their presence as unobtrusive as possible. My boyfriend of nearly four years was once such a guest in my house – I had never set eyes on him until he crashed on our couch to check out a graduate school. CLEARLY, he did not go out of his way to be be as unobtrusive as possible – but he did show up with a crap-load of rum from Trinidad. The rest is history.

3. The Marginal House Guest

MHG’s are extremely problematic. They often show up unannounced, come at inconvenient times, or just generally pass out on your couch after a party and don’t get around to leaving for a few days. They clean you out of food and supplies, fail to wash dishes or clean up after themselves, and probably just lay their sweaty carcass straight down on the mattress pad instead of spreading out the fresh sheets you handed them.  These guests might also be friends of roommates or significant others and have a tendency to ignore you completely, even if you are both in the kitchen and they are helping themselves to your groceries. They often consider your house ‘purely a place to crash with a convenient food trough’ and go out of their way to interact with you. Until they become intoxicated and then for the life of you… you can’t SHUT THEM UP. These are the types of guests that actually possess the necessary skills to interact with other human beings in a pleasant way but they are choosing not to interact in that way with you. Unless they need something, or, again, they are drunk. Breathe a sigh of relief when they are gone – hopefully they won’t be back!

4. The World’s WORST House Guests

So many offenses, so little time! WWHG’s come in many shapes and sizes. Once a roommate of mine invited a random dude he found on couchsurfer.com into our house, ostensibly because he wanted to hook up with him. Shortly after the visitor showed up my roommate decided (not incorrectly) that he was disgusting, and so rather than dealing with the situation he made himself scarce for the three days the visitor was there. Who was this guy? Where did he come from? Did he speak any language familiar to anybody on earth? None of these questions were answered the entire time he was there – sitting naked on our living room couch day and night – helping himself to everything and anything – and not communicating with those of us left in the apartment to guard our possessions lest he wait until we left the house and then rob us blind. It is a very valid question to ask: who was worse, the house guest, or the roommate that invited the house guest and then disappeared – and truthfully the answer is probably ‘BOTH were equally bad’.  Nevertheless, the mysterious naked visitor is just one example of the horrors that can show up on your doorstep. If there’s anything misery loves – it’s company – and we’d love to hear your house guest horror stories!

In conclusion, I’d like to make a list of suggestions for some of these worst-case scenarios, from the easy to the EXTREME, reasonable to unreasonable. You never know what might work!

Passive-aggressive approach 1

Post a list of ‘house rules’ in the kitchen or bathroom and politely point them out while saying ‘everybody here follows these, so I just thought you should know’

Passive-aggressive approach 2

Label all your stuff along with the word ‘ONLY’. This might have the unintended consequence of encouraging some house guests to use exclusively your stuff to annoy you

Reasonable approach 1

Tell them they’re making you uncomfortable for X reasons and ask them if they won’t consider amending their behavior? If you are dealing with a level 4 house guest, it seems unlikely that this will work but it’s worth a try!

Reasonable approach 2

Ask them to leave in a civil manner by conjuring up some excuse like ‘My parents are staying here tonight’ or ‘I have a huge exam tomorrow and need complete quiet’ or ‘The landlord’s coming over to inspect the radiators and I’m not allowed to have un-registered guests’ or WHATEVER . So LONG AS THEY LEAVE!

Less reasonable approach 1

Lock the door when they leave and don’t let them back in. If you still have their stuff leave it somewhere safe and dry outside your place. A note on the door or a text message should be sufficient to convey to them where they can pick up their junk.

Less reasonable approach 2

Kick them out WITH AUTHORITY. Gets some friends as reinforcements if necessary. Tell them in no uncertain terms that you are ending their stay at your house and that they need to get out in the next  15 minutes or you will call the police.

Unreasonable but effective approach 1

Call the police.

Unreasonable but effective approach 2

Turn off the electricity and the hot water and wait them out. If they go outdoors to check the breakers, refer to ‘Less reasonable approach 1’.

Totally unreasonable and probably ineffective but what the hell it’s worth a try approach 1

Try to beat them at their own game – be even MORE sloth, disgusting, depraved, and inappropriate than they are. Weird them out until they slink away in shame.

Totally unreasonable and probably ineffective but what the hell it’s worth a try approach 1

Invite over so many OTHER people that they are forced out due to lack of space and provisions.

Hail Mary approach

Set the house on fire with them in it and hope that they leave before all your stuff is totally destroyed.

Matt’s Approach

Personally, I find yelling and swearing to be the most effective, but many people shy away from the whole letting loose like Mussolini from the balcony when dealing with a group of unruly trespassers. I have found that a detailed explanation of why someone’s actions makes the world a worse place is the best approach.

You might also Like

Sorry. No data so far.

Sorry. No data so far.