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(Meta) Paying the rent

19th December 2009 (03:44)
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Here, have a short poll. I'm curious to see what the consensus is.

Poll #1500846 Paying the rent

Did Willow (and Tara in S6) pay rent for living in Buffy's house?

No, they were ungrateful freeloaders.
15(23.8%)
No, they were welcome guests.
5(7.9%)
No, but they contributed financially in other ways.
24(38.1%)
Yes, but it wasn't enough to cover all the expenses.
15(23.8%)
I'm a special snowflake, and will explain why in the comments!
4(6.3%)
Feel free to speculate in an amusing fashion on exactly how Willow (and Tara) could have contributed to the household finances. :-)

Comments

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 03:53 (UTC)
friends (willow buffy)

I said yes, although I don't think it was "rent", exactly, but just "here's some more money, Buff..."

But even if they hadn't been contributing that much over season 6, I'd still say that they'd paid an awful lot into the house/food/Dawn/etc while Buffy was dead.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 13:16 (UTC)

I can see that more in S7 than S6; but see my new post for a fuller answer. :-)

Posted by: Nicki (peroxidepirate)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 04:20 (UTC)

I figured they were both attending UC-Sunnydale on scholarships and/or student loans -- Willow could have definitely won a full ride scholarship, and I doubt Tara's family was giving her any financial support, so she must have had financial aid of some kind or another. There'd be money built into the fin. aid package for housing, which I believe they would pay to Buffy as rent.

But, financial aid being what it is, that probably wasn't enough to live on, and mos def wasn't enough to cover the entire cost of the house.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 13:18 (UTC)

Agreed. Willow and Tara managed to pay for accommodation in S4 and S5, and that money didn't just vanish - that they were paying it to Buffy seems the most logical conclusion. (Also, see my new post on the subject).

Posted by: harsens_rob (harsens_rob)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 05:01 (UTC)
They were selfish, but not consciously so.

I don't think that Willow or Tara put any money into the household. I think that's why they ran into so much financial difficulty after Buffy's resurrection. Joyce's life insurance was only going to last so long and the witches' attention was on other things during that awful summer.

Once Buffy came back though, it was just selfish (but not maliciously so - I just don't think they put thought into it) for neither of them to take on a least a part time job to contribute to the household bills. Like Buffy at first, I think they just assumed that Giles would take care of that sort of thing as part of 'his Scooby duty' forgetting that was really outside of his responsibilities.

Once he left and Buffy was working at the faux-burger place, we still never saw them actually get a job. Maybe they picked up dinner once in a while or took Dawn shopping, but there certainly was no indication that they thought of rent, utilities, groceries, etc. as their responsibility, despite living there. It's possible they just were never shown handing Buffy money or paying a bill, but it came off to me as they just didn't think about the real world problems Buffy was facing in keeping a household going.

Not surprising in Willow's case: I love her to death, but she was always busy focusing on herself rather than others once she discovered magic - more so than ever in S6, but from Tara I'm surprised and more disappointed. I expected she'd be the one to pull Willow aside and say, "I think we need to look at some sort of rent or something to help out Buffy", but I never saw any evidence that this occurred and I waited all season for it to be mentioned.

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 08:05 (UTC)

I think that's why they ran into so much financial difficulty after Buffy's resurrection. Joyce's life insurance was only going to last so long and the witches' attention was on other things during that awful summer.

Gotta say, if I was living in a big house and taking care of a fourteen-year-old, I'd be running into financial difficulties - and I have a full-time job. Why do you think they'd only be having money problems if they weren't putting their own money into the household?

Posted by: harsens_rob (harsens_rob)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 10:18 (UTC)

Weeeelllll....

I'm basing this off of 'tv land' logic. I mean, could even 1 Friend have possibly lived in those apartments on their supposed salaries?

You'd have a hard time with the bills because you, my dear, got stuck living in real life. If you were in 'tv land' though, a full time job would be more than enough to afford Joyce's house, raising Dawn, a fabulous wardrobe, exotic vacations full of hunks (or big breasted women) and a stylish car that would be traded up every season.

In fact Buffy's job as a burger slinger should have allowed her to do most of these things... must have been a Hellmouth thing that she was still struggling....

:-)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 13:21 (UTC)
Re: They were selfish, but not consciously so.

Thing is, we were never told how either Willow or Tara even afforded food and clothes, let alone rent on the college accommodation they were iving in in S4 - 5 (and Tara presumably moved back into in mid S6). Since I think we can rule out magic (Tara, at least, would never have stood for it) we have to assume that the writers simply didn't think it was interesting enough to put on screen.

Posted by: Barb (rahirah)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 05:23 (UTC)

I can't answer this because there's absolutely no hard evidence in canon either way. However, I feel it was strongly implied that they had been living off Joyce's insurance, and Buffy was the only person in the house who was actually bringing in any money. There was never any mention of Willow or Tara having a job, for example.

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 05:27 (UTC)

Yep. Same here. I decided on the special snowflake option.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 13:24 (UTC)

On the other hand, we were never shown that Willow was bringing in money in S4 or S5 either, yet she somehow managed to afford food, clothing and a college dorm room. Given that, as you rightly say, canon doesn't mention it either way, we're left to draw our own conclusions.

And the money from Dawn renting out a bedroom of her home to a couple of lodgers wouldn't nearly cover the mortgage on such a huge house...

Posted by: fluffybkitty (fluffybkitty)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 06:38 (UTC)
willow/tara - beginning

I clicked on contributed finacially in other ways but then after I clicked I thought about it - How would that have?

They were both students after all. Neither had jobs that we know of. I think Willow probably would have got money from her parents but Tara wouldn't have had that that luxoury, so now I think:

No, they wouldn't have contributed any money but they would have done other things - before it all went south anyways - like cleaning the house and cooking and taking care of Dawn for free.

They would definitely have paid their way somehow, but if they contributed any money it would have been a very small amount, maybe enough to chip in for food but not enough to pay, say, the electricity bill.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 13:25 (UTC)

I assume that whatever money they were paying on accommodation to the college in S5, would instead be paid to Dawn/Buffy in S6. But it wouldn't be nearly enough to cover the cost of the house.

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 06:54 (UTC)

I think the fact that Buffy felt the burden of running the household fell on her without the need for any kind of pow-wow about how *we* are going to pay the mortgage tells us that W/T weren't paying. I chose to be special because I think they were both ungrateful freeloaders and welcome guests. They were getting a free ride, and weren't grateful for it, but Buffy has no resentment about it either.

Fact is, the writers just wanted to pretend that Buffy was so financially strapped that she'd have to get a dead-end job. It makes Giles and all the Scoobies look like heels and Buffy like an idiot. But we're just supposed to focus on Buffy broke and with a dead-end job -- not how or why she got there. It's in the Xander-calling-Sweet category of writing for me. Plot device that requires OOC behavior and which should be disregarded when assessing the characters.

Posted by: harsens_rob (harsens_rob)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 10:24 (UTC)

Ugh, don't even bring up Xander-calling-Sweet! Talk about utter dunderheadedness....

I wrote somewhere that I think by this time everyone was getting tired and bored, including the writers, which is why they left SO many hanging threads like this one out there. Only fans, who get so emotionally wrapped up in these characters, would ask these sorts of questions. I wish the writers had been more emotionally involved, too.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 13:31 (UTC)

Dramatically, I agree with you that the writers wanted the focus to be on Buffy and her struggles. I don't think we can necessarily assume from that that Willow and Tara were not contributing anything at all; simply that it wasn't enough, and the writers didn't want to distract attention by talking about the issue too much.

The gang did all sit down with Buffy to discuss the financial situation, and we weren't shown all the details of that conversation. I can easily believe that the accounts included "Willow and Tara's rent money" on the plus side, and "a whopping huge mortgage that's far higher than anything they can afford on a pair of student loans" on the other. That would still leave a crushing burden of responsibility on Buffy...

(Also, see my new post where I go into more detail on this).

Posted by: Peasant (peasant_)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 09:10 (UTC)

Assuming Joyce's life insurance had paid off the mortgage they would 'only' need to cover bills. I reckon Tara and Willow (and possibly Xander) had contributed so much over the summer to cover those that they actually couldn't afford any more for a while when Buffy returned, hence their presenting the money issues to her so quickly and Buffy having to get a job. Then after a while Willow and Tara could afford to start paying rent again and money issues eased off - witness they ceased to be mentioned much. Buffy couldn't have supported the whole household and a car on Double Meat wages.

I really can't see either Tara or Willow freeloading if there wasn't some explanation for how their dues were already paid. Tara would have got a job and Willow would have robbed a bank by magic. (Willow: 'I've only borrowed it, it doesn't count as stealing if they don't even know it's gone and you're gonna put it back later'. Spike: 'gotta hand it to you, Red, even I can see the moral flaw in that one.' He raises his glass to her.)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 09:59 (UTC)
Willow (death)

Willow: 'I've only borrowed it, it doesn't count as stealing if they don't even know it's gone and you're gonna put it back later'. Spike: 'gotta hand it to you, Red, even I can see the moral flaw in that one.' He raises his glass to her.

You should so write a whole fic of this.

Posted by: harsens_rob (harsens_rob)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 10:26 (UTC)

Too bad you weren't in the production meetings....

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 13:35 (UTC)

The impression I got is that they were faced by huge and unexpected medical bills. Presumably Joyce was either uninsured, or her insurance ran out/didn't cover her treatment costs. Paying those bills wiped out all the money they got from her life insurance, leaving the mortgage still unpaid.

(Can I just take a moment here to be utterly thankful for the National Health Service?)

I fully support your analysis of how S6 Willow and Tara would each have gone about getting more money. :-)

Posted by: Peasant (peasant_)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 15:30 (UTC)

Surely the life insurance required for a mortgage can only be used for the mortgage, not transferred to other things? I was assuming the mortgage must have been paid off because otherwise they would have been repossessed.

Mind you, there is this piece of gobbledegook:
MR. SAVITSKY: Ms. Summers, the only collateral you have is your house, which was never fully leveraged, and has been losing equity over the last several years. For some reason, Sunnydale property values have never been competitive, and ... re-financing's out of the question... Flooded

God knows what that is all supposed to mean. Anyone?

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 19:21 (UTC)

Who said the life insurance could only be used for the mortgage? Generally, it's just a lump sum paid out to the beneficiaries, to be used however they want. Usually it goes toward funeral expenses first, but once it's paid out, it's your money.

As for that quote, Buffy is trying to get a loan. In order to get a loan, she needs collateral - something of value the bank can take if she doesn't pay back what she owes. The agent is saying that Buffy's only collateral is her house. Leveraging a house refers to borrowing money (a mortgage) to pay for the house, but I'm not sure what "fully leveraged" is supposed to mean. I think basically he's just saying she can't use the house as collateral because it's not fully paid off. The house is losing equity (value) because no one wants to live in Sunnydale, so the property values are falling. This means the house is worth less now than when Joyce bought it. Re-financing would be replacing the current mortgage with new rates, which presumably is out of the question because the new rates would be higher than what she's already paying.

Posted by: curiouswombat (curiouswombat)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 10:25 (UTC)

I expect that they did, at least, buy some of the food! But contributing some money for household expenses like power and water probably wouldn't have occurred to Willow.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 13:39 (UTC)

I dunno - Willow was always the conscientious type, and remember they were living in the house with just Dawn from May to September 2001. Bills would have been coming in all that time, and I can imagine Dawn carrying one int to Willow and saying "What do we do about this?"

Willow would probably suggest using magic to provide heat and water, but Tara would tell her "No" very firmly, and Willow would grumble then pay the bill the normal way...

(Or, possibly, enchant the electricity meter to provide power without actually running up a cost, and not tell anyone what she'd done...)

Posted by: leseparatist (novin_ha)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 10:30 (UTC)
[buffy] willow

Sadly, I honestly doubt they did, and it bugs me a lot when I watch season 6. I mean, I think they did buy food, but other than that, it didn't seem like they contributed.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 13:40 (UTC)

I don't think we can say from on-screen evidence either way. We just have to go by their personalities and what seems logical.

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 10:54 (UTC)

Shrug. Unless someone can point out where in canon it's stated that they don't, I'm going to assume they do. But also that they're on a student budget and fighting demons rather than working in their spare time.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 13:41 (UTC)

You speak wisdom. (Or rather, you agree with my views, which I choose to define here as "wisdom" :-) )

Posted by: goldenusagi (goldenusagi)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 11:44 (UTC)

Honestly, I think Buffy came back from the dead, found Willow and Tara living there, and just never got around to questioning it, much less asking for money. I got the impression that during the summer, the house expenses were paid for by whatever money Joyce had. Which raises another question to me. They knew they were bringing Buffy back, they had to know money was running out (as they tell Buffy later, she's broke), did they just expect her to take care of everything once she came back? I guess? There's no canon evidence that Willow or Tara paid rent, though I imagine that they paid for groceries. Possibly helped with bills. Though it all seemed to be on Buffy to fix the pipes in the basement. (Actually, I always thought it was weird that after Buffy was back, Willow and Tara didn't move out and give her her house back. I mean, it's not like Dawn is young enough to need constant supervision. And if Willow and Tara living there didn't cut down on costs for Buffy, there's really no reason to have them there.)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 13:43 (UTC)

See my new post for a more detailed answer to this. I do agree there was an element of "We can't decide on any permanent solutions until we bring back Buffy, or know for definite that she's gone forever" - otherwise, they should probably have sold the house. (And maybe Willow and Tara should have adopted Dawn).

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 19:29 (UTC)

I am, of course, a special snowflake. I really can't say either way, since there's no evidence whatsoever. I do think that if they contributed something, they wouldn't have called it "rent." I strongly doubt that they and Buffy sat down and agreed on a fixed amount and Willow and/or Tara handed over a check on the 1st of each month. More likely, they'd just pay for groceries and things as they came up, whenever they had money on hand. Or perhaps, since one of them must have had access to the Summers bank accounts over the summer, they might just deposit money in the account whenever they could spare it.

I'm definitely certain that whatever they could afford to pay (whether they did pay it or not) would not have been enough to cover all of the expenses.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 22:44 (UTC)

I strongly doubt that they and Buffy sat down and agreed on a fixed amount

I'd agree on that... but it's more likely that Willow, Tara and Giles sat down with Dawn and decided what to do now that Buffy was dead and Dawn was the underage owner of a house. And it seems logical that "whatever they were paying as rent to UC Sunnydale" would instead be paid to Dawn (or in practice, into the bank account used to pay off the mortgage.)

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 22:56 (UTC)

Eh, I'm a little skeptical that anyone sat down with Dawn about the finances. Yes, she's officially the owner of the house, but considering that they all treat her like she's a child, I don't think she'd be involved in those decisions.

I'm also not convinced that Willow and Tara picked a set amount to pay each month. I could see it developing that they'd use whatever savings Joyce had to pay the mortgage, and just use their own money for groceries, bills, etc. In other words, they could be contributing without keeping track of exactly how much, and without it ever getting deposited in the Summers' bank account.

Not that that's a bad way of doing things, but if Willow and Tara slip and start relying too much on Joyce's money, it's not as noticeable to them. It also makes it easier for them to (consciously or unconsciously) start contributing less once Buffy's back, which could lead to Buffy feeling like she's the only one contributing.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 23:38 (UTC)

When I say "sit down with Dawn" I was thinking more that the three adults would discuss it, and Dawn would be told to sit down and listen because this was important. :-)

I can certainly see your scenario as a plausible one. There's also the fact that Willow and Tara would now be paying for Dawn's food and clothes and so forth as well as their own, so they'd be making a financial sacrifice even if they didn't pay for the house. Hmm. I could go either way on that.

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 20th December 2009 01:22 (UTC)

There's also the fact that Willow and Tara would now be paying for Dawn's food and clothes and so forth as well as their own, so they'd be making a financial sacrifice even if they didn't pay for the house.

Good point. The main reason I don't like the idea of them paying a set amount is because there's no reason for them to STOP paying that set amount once Buffy comes back. But it seems pretty obvious we're not meant to see their contribution as meaningful (at least from Buffy's perspective), so I prefer to have a reason why they might start paying less without seeming like ungrateful assholes. :)

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 22:39 (UTC)

This is kind of confusing, guys, and making my head hurt. I'll go read your new post to see what I'm supposed to think. :D

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th December 2009 22:44 (UTC)

Aww. *rubs your head better* :-)

Posted by: ms_scarletibis (ms_scarletibis)
Posted at: 23rd December 2009 16:22 (UTC)

I chose the first option, but it's possible they bought food every once in awhile.

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