How to Cope with Difficult Housemates

In General

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Housemates are like marmite. Sometimes you’ll love them, other times you may find them tricky to get along with. No matter how close you are to them, it’s not always plain sailing and in the worst case, things can get nasty. Whether it’s the classic problem of bin jenga or loud sing-alongs to the likes of Bieber and One Direction, here are a few pieces of advice on how to deal with some of these issues before things escalate into full-blown fisticuffs.

Issue 1: Messiness

There’s mould growing in old mugs, the bins are full to burst and there’s an odd smell emanating from their bedroom. One of the most common arguments amongst housemates is about cleaning, or rather the lack of. If one housemate isn’t pulling their weight, then you may have to be persistent with the reminders. It may seem a bit naggy, but when the lack of cleanliness becomes a health issue, this doesn’t seem so harsh.

Solution: Drawing up a cleaning rota is usually helpful. Allocate a certain room or task to each housemate per week with space to tick off once it’s been done. Just make sure you all stick to it!

Issue 2: The Party Animal

We get it, it’s Friday night and it’s the perfect time to wind down. After all, who doesn’t love a good night out? But when your housemate has a bunch of friends round for pres on an almost daily basis….well….no amount of noise cancelling headphones will help.

Solution: One way to approach this is to speak to them alone (sober of course) and tell them that their nighttime antics are getting out of hand. If it’s usually a big crowd coming over to yours then chances are, there’s someone else with a free house/flat, so politely ask them if they could go somewhere else for pre-drinks. Another, perhaps more satisfying way of dealing with this is to be annoyingly cheerful when they’re dragging themselves around the next morning with a nightmare of a hangover. Turn those lights on, get that shockingly loud vacuum going. Maybe that’ll put them off partying so much. We of course are purveyors of peace, so naturally we would recommend you opt for the first approach…

Issue 3: Passive aggressive notes

There’s always one. That one housemate who won’t tell you something to your face, but will leave sarcy notes around the house. It’s likely this individual has some honesty issues and won’t tell you upfront if something you’re doing is bothering them. Best way to solve this?

Solution:  Do what they don’t dare to and communicate. Ask them directly about the notes they’re leaving and solve them together. If they see that you’re reasonable when you’re both talking about it, then they’ll see that the notes are unnecessary.

Issue 4: Disappearing food

Classic horror. It’s midnight, you’ve been up writing an essay and the late night snack cravings are starting to to creep in. You go to the kitchen only to discover your leftover pizza has mysteriously disappeared…how can you catch this food thief?!

Solution: If you’re thinking of spiking your food with laxatives, don’t. Don’t. Even. Go there. Dry stuff such as tea, coffe, pasta, sauces etc can be kept safely in your room. If you know who the thief is, casually mention that food has been going missing for some strange reason. Hopefully they’ll stop if they know they’ve been rumbled. Failing that, address them directly and just tell them to stop, bearing in mind you might need some proof that you know it’s them. It’s a bit drastic, but if the food stealing gets serious, then try excessively wrapping your food in cling film and zip-lock bags. Food thieves want a quick lazy swipe so may be put off if they have to get through layer and layers of plastic.

Issue 5: Money Problems

With a great house comes a great number of bills and you’ll also probably have a long list of household items you all share too. Asking for your money back for these isn’t the easiest and possibly one of the more awkward issues to address.

Solution: With the utility bills, try to split the responsibility among all of you so a single housemate’s name isn’t under all of them. That way, no one can get complacent about leaving everything to one person. Everyone’s even-stevens and your housemates will be owed money too. When it comes to buying household goods such as loo roll, bin liners etc, either have a pot of money that everyone contributes to, or keep a chart of who has bought what and how much everyone owes to keep the peace.

Obviously it’s hard to always get along and the advice we’ve given may or may not help the situation. When your contract is coming to an end, it may be time to consider living somewhere else away from all the trouble if it becomes too bad. Again, there’s no need to rush into this and SUSU Lettings are always there to help you find a suitable place to live.

The Advice Centre are also on hand to deal with any problems you may be having regarding housing or your housemates, so a chat with them may also do a lot of good!

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