Navigating Disputes and Differences with Your Housemates
Living in a student house can often be an awesome experience: movie nights, cooking meals together, parties, new friendships. But it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows… sharing a living space with people that you have just met, or have only known for a short period of time can definitely come with its challenges!
We’ve put together this guide to dealing with some of the most common problems that arise in student houses, and how to navigate these disputes and differences with your housemates.
When a housemate makes a lot of mess
Dishes piled high in the sink, clothes and shoes strewn all over the house, takeaway boxes left out for days. Does this sound like your housemate?
Living with someone who doesn’t make an effort to keep the house clean and tidy can be difficult and frustrating. If you’re dealing with this in your student house, it’s important to communicate the issue with the housemate in question before the situation gets worse and you lose your cool.
Bringing up the issue of uncleanliness to your housemate may feel awkward, but it’s best to make them aware of your discomfort so that they can try to make a change.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to dealing with your messy housemate:
- Explain the issue and how it makes you feel
There’s a good chance that your housemate didn’t realise how messy they were being! Having a conversation with them about your concerns and how it makes you feel is the first step to finding a solution to the problem. Honest communication is key here!
- Suggest a house cleaning schedule
Now that you’ve communicated the issue to your housemate, you can work together to divvy up household chores so that everyone pulls their weight. It could be as simple as allocating specific chores to each person, or creating a more formal cleaning rota. This will hopefully help to even out the burden of cleaning the house.
- Be ready to compromise
Standards for cleanliness just are different sometimes, and it’s not always possible to change people. If your housemate does not take your feedback on board, it might be time to compromise; for example, they keep their mess to one room. Pick your battles whilst also setting boundaries.
When a housemate is late to make payment for bills or rent
We are living in extremely hard times, and it’s important to be mindful of your housemates’ financial circumstances. However, if you’re constantly having to lay out for your housemate or reminding them to send money for a bill for days on end, it’s probably time for you to bring this up to them.
Here are some steps you can take to resolve the issue of late payment:
- Have a frank conversation with them
This might not be an easy conversation to have, but it’s a really important one. Tell them that the late payments are an issue for you, and if you have been laying out for them, explain that you are unable to do so anymore. If your housemate is struggling to make payments on time for financial reasons, they should contact your utility provider who will help them to come up with a mutually agreed solution. This article by Citizens Advice is a useful resource.
- Have your housemate set up a direct debit
If your housemate is bad at remembering when payments are due, ask them to set up a direct debit so that the money owed is automatically transferred to you on a set date each month.
- Split your bills
If the issue persists and your housemate is still not paying their bills on time, contact your utility provider and see if splitting the bills is an option. This way, each housemate will be responsible only for their share of the bills, and you won’t be penalised for your housemate’s late payments.
When a housemate does not contribute to household items
Beyond bills, there are other costs that should be shared by the house- toilet paper, washing up liquid, soap. If your housemate is using these shared items, but not contributing to their cost, this may lead to resentment on your behalf.
As always, first talk to your housemate. Sometimes a simple ‘please could you buy the next pack of kitchen rolls?’ will be enough to spur your housemate into action and even out the cost of household items.
If, after talking, you still feel as though contribution towards household items is skewed, there are some other options to consider:
- Set up a kitty fund
Despite the funny name, a kitty fund is actually a really useful way to split shared costs evenly with your housemates! A kitty fund is just a pool of money, in cash or on card, which each housemate contributes the same amount to. This money is then used to pay for shared household expenses so that no one is spending more or less than anyone else.
- Order a regular delivery of shared household items and split the costs
Another option is to order your shared household items (perhaps once a month), and split the costs between your housemates. This way, expenses are easy to keep track of.
When a housemate is noisy
As a student you’re probably used to a bit of noise! But if your housemate is constantly playing blaring music or being loud late at night, it can get tedious. Your house needs to be an environment that you can study and rest in, which means that you need to set some ground rules when it comes to noise.
Setting times for quiet is a good idea. For instance, you could agree that from 11pm on weekdays noise in the house should be kept to a minimum.
You should also come to an agreement with your housemates about noisy activities like parties or having guests over late at night in the week. Hopefully you and your housemates can reach a compromise!
If you and your housemate just don’t get along
Sometimes housemates don’t get on, and that’s ok! Remaining civil and keeping your house an environment that you both feel comfortable in is the most important thing here.
- Give each other space
Living in a house with someone that you don’t get along with is hard, so it’s key that you give each other space and don’t make each other feel suffocated. Setting boundaries is vital.
- Talk it out if you can
If you think your housemate will be receptive, it’s worth trying to talk your differences out. Navigating these issues together might help to strengthen your relationship.
- Speak with your university’s student living services
If you’re living in university accommodation and struggling because of one of your housemates, see what support your university has to offer. Universities will usually have a student living ambassador or team to help out with any problems.
Next time use Roome!
Roome is a platform developed for students looking for their perfect housemate! Roome uses a machine learning algorithm to match you with like-minded students, and also allows you to advertise any spare rooms in your student house, chat to other students, and browse properties. Avoid future housemate disputes by using Roome!
Posted by Owen Redman
Co-founder of Roome