Dear Ed: ‘How Long Should I Let a Friend Crash at My House?’

by on November 18, 2021 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Edwin Decker

Dear Ed, Can you tell me how long should I let a friend crash at my house? A friend of mine is going through a divorce and has been sleeping on my couch for about a month now. Do you think that’s long enough or is it my obligation to let him stay longer? I want him to leave, but I fear that asking will damage the friendship.

Sincerely, Katy from Connecticut

Dear Katy, ah yes, the age-old question: What’s the statute of limitations on crashing?

Well, it depends on multiple variables such as how close the friend is, how respectful are they of your space, what is your tolerance level and other factors.

Given that I don’t know the particulars of your situation, I have developed a formula for you – or anyone – to apply. I call it the Crashing Friend Eviction Deadline Calculator and the way it works is that we set a base number of weeks a friend or family member should be allowed to crash, then apply a series of subtractors, or infractions, that will reduce that base number.

For instance, an inner circle family member should be granted a Base Stay Length (BSL) of 18 weeks. Inner circle best friends get 16 weeks. Outer circle family members receive a 10-week BSL. Outer circle regular friends, eight weeks. And acquaintances are two weeks. Now let’s look at the infractions/subtractors:

Tolerance: The Tolerance subtractor is more about your sensibilities than it is about your guest’s behavior. I call it your Long-Term Crashing Friend Tolerance Level and it comes down to how much of a burden their presence is on your sanity. Deduct two to four weeks depending on your tolerance level.

Respect: Does your guest leave their dishes unwashed? Does he or she hog the remote? Is there a landfill of Dorito crumbs and dried salsa droplets covering the couch? I had a crashing friend who was the worst! The final straw was when he invited a bunch of sketchy douchebags from the bar for an after-hours party at my place. They all just barged in at 3:00 a.m., stomping and braying like a herd of inebriated elephants. I stormed out of bed in my boxers and told them all to get out. Naturally, I was deemed Mr. No-Fun guy. In any case, reduce the BSL by half for disrespectful behavior.

Active House Searching: If you’re constantly coming home from work to find your guest sitting on the couch in the exact same position as when you left – a near-empty bag of weed and the remnants of a twelve-pack on the coffee table – and the only section of the newspaper left unopened being the classifieds, you can pretty much surmise he isn’t searching very hard. Subtract two weeks and tell them to get off their butts and fucking find a place – fast!

Is The Guest Chipping In?: Anybody who is crashing your house for more than a week should be kicking in money for utilities and/or groceries. How much they pay may be relevant to their means but if they have enough cash for their beer and weed habit, they should be giving you a little something for the kitty. There’s actually a calculator on that suggests a fair amount for house crashers to chip pitch in, but the point here is, if they’re not helping at all, subtract three weeks.

Roommates: Do you have any? This is important because if there are roommates in the picture, it’s no longer about your friend’s imposition on you, but YOUR imposition on your roommate(s). Assuming they already agreed to his crashing, you should find out what their crasher tolerance level is and apply. All things being equal, deduct four weeks from the BSL if roomies are present.

Hygiene: That’s your couch. You love your couch! The idea of some sweaty, smelly, farty fellow sleeping on it every day is unnerving at best. And yes, dust mites are a thing! Subtract four weeks for sweaty, filthy, farty friends and make them pay for a professional washing after they leave.

On another note, it seems important to remind everyone about the very real danger associated with allowing someone to crash in the first place. It’s probably inconceivable that a close friend will screw you. But the California courts are brimming with cases in which people squatted on their friend’s domiciles and the State of California tends to favor the squatter.

It’s all about the difference between a “Guest” and a “Lodger.” Under California law, a lodger is someone who rents a room in a home where the owner also lives. A guest is someone you have invited into your home and has no legal lodger/tenant protections because they don’t pay rent. However, by law, “rent” does not always mean, cash money. Rent can also be other things – such as, an agreement to do the grocery shopping, or housecleaning even. If a “friend” decided they were going to squat on you, they would merely need claim they are a “lodging” in exchange for watching your dog while you are at work. Even without a lease and no actual money being paid, this would fly in court.

“The problem,” says attorney Janet Portman via How Stuff Works, “is that police are extremely wary of forcibly removing someone from a property if there’s even the slightest chance that they are a [lodger or tenant]. Because dragging a tenant out of their home without a court order . . . is illegal and can sue both you and the cops.”

I’m not saying this is necessarily grounds to decline a friend’s request to crash, but it behooves you to be a good judge of character. At the very least, give them an exit deadline before they move in. I realize it’s too late for that now, Katy, but go ahead and apply my Crashing Friend Eviction Deadline Calculator and let the guest know when you will be expecting them to leave. If they make you feel guilty or even berate you for it, well they probably weren’t as good of a friend as you thought so, you know, good riddance.




{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbi November 19, 2021 at 5:28 am

Been there, done that and I would say……

Refer crashers back to their parents or siblings to stay and guide them on how to get back on their feet :-) and save your friendship.


edwin decker November 19, 2021 at 8:13 pm

Fairly sound advice, Debbi. I should have consulted you before publishing the article ; )


Frank Fitz November 19, 2021 at 8:39 am

Fish and visitors stink after three days, so penned Benjamin Franklin.


Suela F Decker November 21, 2021 at 6:19 am



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