The Moneyist: I kicked my roommate out as she works with adolescents, a group more likely to pass on coronavirus. Can I stop her coming home?

I kicked my roommate out as she works with adolescents, a group more likely to pass on coronavirus. Can I stop her coming home?

The Moneyist answers dilemmas in an age of coronavirus.

Dear Moneyist,

I am over 65 years old, and I am the care giver for my sister who is also over age 65 and lives alone. We both have medical conditions and my sister’s are numerous. I go to my sister’s apartment to take care of her and we are staying isolated from others as much as possible as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.

My very real concern is that I own my home and I have a roommate, who is over the age 60, and works at a group home for troubled adolescents that operates 24 hours a day. According to my research on how COVID-19 spreads, this type of facility is considered a high-risk environment for coronavirus as young people may be asymptomatic. Most of the staff live off-site.

Dispatches from a pandemic: Letter from New York: ‘When I hear an ambulance, I wonder if there’s a coronavirus patient inside. Are there more 911 calls, or do I notice every distant siren? I love my adopted city, and I’m not going anywhere. I will ride this out’

She also has medical issues, but continues to work because she says she needs the money. I told her that I would help by not asking for her financial contribution to the household if she would stop working, and also isolate at home. She refused, and continued to work. I gave her an ultimatum to isolate at home or move out for the protection of me, my sister and herself.

She chose to leave and is staying in a room at the facility where she works, but her manager told her that she can only stay there until mid-April. After that, she will need somewhere to live. I don’t want her to come back to my home, if she continues to work. Can I force her not to move back if she continues to work at a place that is a high-risk environment?

Worried in Los Angeles County

Dear Worried,

Your concerns are valid. Your fears are understandable. Your actions are unreasonable.

Your roommate has never been a problem. It appears that she has always paid her rent on time, and worked hard. I assume she loves her job, and you can be sure she is also scared about contracting coronavirus. I hope that her employer is taking the necessary precautions to reduce the likelihood that there will be any transmission of COVID-19 to or from the staff. Young people may have mild symptoms or may be asymptomatic. So you’re correct about that.

However, I don’t believe kicking your roommate out is the answer. Nor do I believe it’s fair to give her an ultimatum, especially when she needs the money and has nowhere else to live. I get that you’re scared, but don’t let your fear change who you are, assuming that you are usually a person who endeavors to do the right thing. Under California law, if your roommate is paying rent, she is living there on a month-to-month basis. At the very least, you must give her 30 days to 60 days notice.

The Moneyist: ‘Coronavirus has ruined everything.’ My husband refuses to work. Is it too much to ask him to find a job when millions of people are now out of work? I’ve suggested jobs with car services and food-delivery services, but to no avail

California Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced emergency orders on April 6 to prevent landlords from evicting tenants, except in matters of public health and safety. The new rule is, at best, unclear. “We are at this point truly with no guidance in history, law or precedent,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, chair of the state’s Judicial Council, said in a statement. “To say that there is no playbook is a gross understatement of the situation.” Your roommate may not be aware of such measures.

In the meantime, you can attempt social-distancing, and change the way you live, make rules about washing hands when you come home, wear face masks, and ensure that plates and cutlery are kept separate and/or washed in hot water with soap. None of these measures are guarantees against COVID-19, but they’re good practice. At times like this, it’s important to take all recommendations to stay healthy, but it’s equally important not to lose our compassion for others and humanity.

The Moneyist: ‘All they care about is making money.’ Can my supermarket manager force me to remove my face mask at work?

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at

Want to read more? Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter and read more of his columns here

Do you have questions about how the coronavirus is impacting your life and finances? Send them to MarketWatch’s Moneyist and please include the state where you live (no full names will be used). By submitting your story to Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of MarketWatch, you understand and agree that we may use your story, or versions of it, in all media and platforms, including via third parties.

Would you like to sign up to an email alert when a new Moneyist column has been published? If so, click on this link.

Hello there, MarketWatchers. Check out the Moneyist private Facebook(FB)  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.

More from Quentin Fottrell

Top Stories on MarketWatch

Investor whose ‘explosive’ strategy returned 4,144% in March says a ‘true crash’ in stocks is still to come

Founder of world’s largest hedge fund doubles down on ‘cash is trash’ argument, warning of debt-fueled inflation

Billionaire Mark Cuban explains how stock-market bears feel about bulls: ‘I don’t think they are really factoring in what they are going to see on the other side’ of coronavirus

Here’s what Goldman Sachs is telling wealthy clients to do in this market