Aricela and Marisol have worked at the same company for several years. They are in the same department, see each other every day, and get along well. Several months ago, Aricela needed to go to California to be with her mother, who was ill. She was looking for someone to watch over her home while she was gone. As it happened, Marisol’s lease was up, and she was looking for somewhere to stay. They agreed that Marisol would move into Aricela’s home and pay $500 per month. Since Aricela’s mother’s health was unstable, the two did not discuss timing or make a specific agreement about how long the arrangement would last. When Aricela filed an eviction action against Marisol after claiming unpaid rent, the two ended up in court and were referred to mediation.
The arrangement had worked out well for the first several months. When Marisol sent Aricela the rent money, Aricela would send back a written receipt. Aricela kept a record of the money that came in, which was usually in the form of a cashier’s check, although occasionally Marisol paid in cash. Aricela brought an eviction action claiming she had not been paid for April rent; Marisol said she gave Aricela the payment in cash, but had forgotten to get a receipt.
There was an additional issue; after several months, Aricela’s mother seemed to be doing a lot better. She did not need Aricela’s assistance anymore, so Aricela decided to move back to Chicago. Both parties agreed that since there were multiple bedrooms, Marisol would continue to stay in the home. However, once Aricela moved back in, Aricela discovered that Marisol was hosting more people in the home than she had expected. Marisol’s new boyfriend had moved in, and some of Marisol’s nieces and nephews sometimes stayed over.
Aricela explained that having new people in her home, who she didn’t know, made her uncomfortable. Marisol said that while she was paying rent, she felt she should have the freedom of allowing her boyfriend and family members to stay with her. She said that the nieces and nephews only stayed every once in a while, and that they were not disruptive. In fact, they helped her with the dishes, daily household chores, and were very respectful.
After talking the issue through, Aricela identified that her primary interest was feeling comfortable in her own home. She also wanted to make sure that she was not being taken advantage of by Marisol. Marisol needed a stable living situation until she found a new place to live. Both parties valued their ongoing relationship, since they still work together. To preserve their relationship, the parties agreed that Marisol would move out, but would have two months to find housing. Aricela agreed to forgive April’s rent as long as Marisol paid for the current month of May in full during the mediation, and also agreed to pay for June and July on specified dates. Aricela agreed to give Marisol written receipts for payment.
With the help of the mediator, the parties crafted an agreement that allowed them to avoid court and preserve their relationship.