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Friends shouldn’t ask friends to break the rules

Dear Harlan: I am stuck between helping a couple of friends and following rules. My friends’ lease is almost over. They took too much time finding an apartment and now they need a place to stay for a couple of weeks. They had a discussion with my roommate and asked her if the two of them could stay at our place while they are in between places. The problem is that our work contract includes housing. Having people stay with us could mean automatic termination of our jobs and housing if we get caught. I’m stuck between helping friends and risking my job and housing. I want to help my friends, but I’m torn. Any advice?

— Breaking the Rules

Dear Breaking the Rules:  You can’t break the rules. You can’t risk being fired or evicted from your place. And really, no friend should want to put you in this position. Make this simple. Talk to the people in the housing office and ask them if your friends can stay with you for a short period of time. Explain the situation and be completely honest. See if they are willing to make an exception. If not, explain to your friends in the clearest terms what’s at stake and that you tried to make this work. Forget mentioning that they took too long looking for a place. Stick to why they can’t stay with you. Hope they understand. You just can’t risk losing your job and housing. If they don’t understand, they’ll need to get over it. There’s not much more you can do.

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