Dealing with Difficult Housemates

October 1, 2019

After the manic freshers week is over the honeymoon period of living away from home for the first time starts to wear off as you begin to realise that you’re living with a bunch of strangers who have different schedules and standards to you. In an ideal world you’d be the best of friends with your housemates, but as it’s luck of the draw and there’s no guarantee you’ll get on.

Here’s the 4 types of difficult housemates you’ll come across at university and how to deal with them.

The Messy One
Every house has one. The person who’s still adjusting to not having their parents do all their washing up or the person who just doesn’t mind the mess. They leave stacks of dirty plates in the sink and use up your clean ones.

How to deal with them
Tempting as it is to leave passive aggressive notes or to go on washing up strikes this will just cause more issues. If you wash up their plates to make a point it’s likely they’ll just continue – as they’re winning in this situation. Do not get a group of housemates together and stage a mini ‘intervention’ – this is a terrible idea and will definitely upset and embarrass them.
The way to solve is to take them aside let them know how you feel and set boundaries. See if you can meet in the middle about what you think a tolerable level of clean is. A cleaning rota is your best bet, split up the chores and make sure both of you don’t mind the activity they’re given.
It’s also worth considering if there’s something else going on in their life, is it a stressful university/personal time? If so check up on them! Their messy habits might be because of that.

The One Who Steals Your Food
A splash of milk here and there is no biggie, but if they’re constantly stealing your food you need to say something.

How to deal with them
The longer it goes on for the harder it’ll be to speak up. Again, passive aggressive notes are not the way forward. When I was in second year all hell broke loose when one of my housemates put a note in his biscuit tin for my other housemate telling her to buy her own biscuits – it was a really awkward situation where the housemate couldn’t really confront the other housemate without admitting they were looking in the biscuit tin. Talk to your housemates about what items are communal and you don’t mind them using them but draw the line on items you don’t want to share. Suggest taking it in turns with your housemates to buy staples that everyone can use like tea and milk.

The Party Animal
You’ll usually find them hosting loud pre and post drinks, waking up their housemate when they come home at 5am, ‘first year doesn’t count’ is probably their catch phrase (spoiler alert it does). One of the best parts about uni is your social life and the friends you make there. Going out all of the time is fun, but it can be damaging to relationships in your flat.

How to deal with them
Ask your flatmate to give you a heads up if they’re hosting pres/afters so you can make sure you’re out or not studying when it’s noisy. Asking your housemate to not to hold a party the night before your 9am is completely reasonable! You’re not a killjoy for asking for some quiet time during the week. Speak to your housemate about both of your schedules. If your flatmate is a decent person they’ll be more than happy to take turns with their friends holding parties to give you guys a break.

The Coupled Up One
The housemate whose boyfriend/girlfriend is at your house so often they should be on the lease. Their significant other is constantly lounging around in communal areas, hogging the shower and using up the milk.

How to deal with them
When I was at uni I had a housemate in second year who stayed at our house SEVEN times the entire year and lived at his girlfriend’s house the rest of the year, he was paying rent at our house, and also contributing to bills at his girlfriend’s place!
Bringing up a problem you have with someone’s significant other must be done delicately. DO NOT tell your housemate you hate their boyfriend and you wish he’d go to his own home – your housemate will get defensive and it’ll create unnecessary arguments and tension.

Calmly saying to your housemate that you couldn’t have a hot shower because someone used up all of the hot water will get them to realise how frustrating it must be for you. If you don’t have a problem with the s/o tell your housemate that you love having them around but it’s only fair for them to contribute to the bills too. If you do have a problem with them still say to your housemate that they should contribute to the bills but ask them to stay over at their s/o’s house sometimes. It helps if you’re able to prove that your bill went up round about the same time their s/o started staying over so often.
Some students set a number of nights they can have people stay over at the flat. This might be an option worth exploring.

The longer the behaviour go on for the harder it is for you to object. Try and lay some ground rules to nip it in the bud. If you live in halls and can’t solve your arguments between yourself halls staff can run mediation sessions to help you see eye to eye. If the situation is completely unbearable there is the option to move accommodation blocs a few weeks into term.

By Clarissa Ducie, recent graduate and blogger for University Finder and Apprenticeship Finder