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How to deal with a difficult flatmate

by Cheyan Heer
23 January 2017

Living with your own family, partners and friends can occasionally be difficult, so living in a completely new location and with a practical stranger is bound to have its issues!

Even if your flatmate seemed pleasant at first, unfortunately you still do not get a complete picture of how life will be until you live with that person for a while.

As days, weeks and months go by, slowly you may notice peculiar things happening. For example: your milk has gone down below the measurement you memorised, or somebody has eaten your food when you went home for the weekend and thought you wouldn’t realise that they have secretly replaced it. Or your distinctive dishes have magically ended up in the sink. This can of course leave you a little perplexed.

Reflecting back to my own experiences I will share with you guys some experiences I had, and the best way to deal with them :

  1. Dirty toilet and shower
    Suggest a cleaning rota, it will be easy to tell who is not pulling their weight if everyone is assigned a day/week to clean. Ensure there are cleaning products in the bathroom, and in the kitchen so flatmates can clean as they go.
  2. Noise at night. No need to say anymore.
    You might not want to sound like an old, boring person, but a good night’s sleep is important, especially if you have a lot of assignments, exams or a placement on. I would suggest you get a pair of earplugs, which should help block out any noise. If it becomes a regular occurrence, you could try speaking with the culprit and asking them if they could limit the noisy nights, wear headphones if its music, or go out instead.
  3. People making a mess after a night out and not admitting it or cleaning afterwards. Eww.
    You could offer to help with the clean-up, your flatmate should appreciate the gesture when they perhaps aren’t feeling their best.  
  4. Crumbs on counters and on sofas and food scraps in the kitchen sink.
    The cleaning roster should help with minimising this. Although a few crumbs should be easy enough to wipe away and likely aren’t worth the hassle of a confrontation.
  5. When individuals walk into your room without knocking.
    Politely ask your housemates to knock before entering your room, and if you have a lock on your door, use that to stop unwanted visitors!
  6. When people go away for days and leave out-of-date products in the fridge. Why oh why?!
    If there is visible mould, chuck it out! Mention to your flatmate when they return that you threw out their leftovers as they had gone mouldy, they may well have forgotten they were in there!

My biggest piece of advice is to stay calm and collected. Keep the peace, who wants to come home to negative energy? If the issue is minor then look past it and be the bigger person. Is accusing someone really worth rows and tantrums? Even if you’re 100% certain someone has taken a sip from your juice, just try your best to shrug it off. Anything for a peaceful life! Don’t give up on your flatmate!

Remember, everyone has different tolerance levels, what you may consider loud, dirty or annoying may not bother your flatmate. The best way to ensure a happy flat is to communicate face to face regularly and try to compromise.

If there is a more serious underlying issue, maybe based on rent or bill payments or safety precautions, then please be aware that you can always contact your landlord, estate agent, accommodation officer or flat rep.

Everyone is in the same situation and even if you have nothing in common at least be aware that you are all wonderful Roehampton students!

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