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Dealing with difficult housemates

Dealing with difficult housemates

We are now over two weeks into university and you have therefore had a settling in period with your house mates. By now you would have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. You will be working out who leaves the toilet seat up, who never washes up, who plays music as loud as they can at 5 am or who leaves old, soggy toast all over the sofas in the living room.

It’s okay, breathe. Here are some handy bits of advice in dealing with difficult housemates, from reminding them to tidy up after themselves, to politely asking them to not bang on your door drunk at around 3 am.

Tip number one, try to resist the urge to fight back

I know, it can be extremely tempting to drop the dirty bowl that your house mate has been claiming they will wash for the past three weeks, into the bin, complete with a full collection of penicillin mould, but by fighting back by ruining someone’s belongings, things will go nowhere. If you retaliate in this way then this will simply anger your roommate who will make it their mission to never do anything you ask of them again.

So, what to do?
It sounds unbelievably cheesy, but just talk to them. By taking them to one side, expressing how upset you are with basically cleaning up after them constantly, hopefully this will get through to them. If they refuse to change their ways, then they are clearly lacking in respect for you.

Number two, always remember to lay down some rules

If you are living in a house with your student pals, then it is probably second or third year for you, and this means more work. You need to lay down some rules regarding noise and disruption. For example, if  a house party is going to happen, make sure everyone is happy and comfortable with this, as they can be risky regarding deposits, damage to the house and theft. If you are not comfortable with this, make sure you speak up and raise your concerns. Another ground rule to set is noise, if people in your house have placements, or early morning starts for university or are simply just trying to get on with some work, then everyone needs to respect this and noise should be kept down at certain times.

So, what to do?
Get the house together at the start of the year and lay down some rules, get people to raise their concerns, discuss deposit, noise levels, house parties, cleaning and energy usage. Once these are all addressed, then everyone should know where they stand and little to no issues should hopefully arise.

Number three, observe your own actions

I’m not trying to be mean, but try not to be a bit of a wally yourself! Be aware of your actions and whether they might be annoying other people, tidy up after yourself, be kind, be helpful and polite and try to give housemates their space when they need it.

So, what to do?
Just be nice! Don’t do anything that you would not want to be done to you.

Number four, never send passive aggressive texts to the group chat

It is never a good idea to send a passive aggressive text to the group chat, concerning dirty dishes or a messy living room, before slipping out the door to university. It will just cause unnecessary tensions and will also cause you to be nervous whilst returning home.

So, what to do?
Just wait until everyone is in the room and bring up what is bothering you, actually chatting to someone about how you are feeling is much better than pasting passive aggressive notes around the kitchen and plastered onto every door.

Number five, have a rota?

Yes, I know, these rarely work, but it’s worth a try right?!

So, what to do?

Get a large A3 piece of card and divide it up into sections, these can range from hoovering, through to cleaning the kitchen or the bath rooms. Then place housemates names by it and make sure that you rotate them each week, meaning that people will have to do a different chore each week. You can be quite relaxed in when the person does the chore, as long as by the end of the week, everything is done. Make sure to stress however that everyone needs to also clean up after themselves in the kitchen, don’t make the kitchen person clean up everyone’s mess at the end of the week.

Number six, in extreme and unfortunate cases, know your rights

I know this sounds a little drastic, but if you really are having a terrible time and you would like to move out, then make sure that you know your rights. Likewise if you and your housemates are upset about an unruly, dangerous and damaging housemate, who won’t pay the bills or is bringing illegal practices into the house, know your rights on how you can go about removing them from the house.

So, what to do?

Remember, just because you are at university, this does not mean that you have to be extremely uncomfortable at home. Get onto citizens advice bureau on your rights as a tenant and how you can move out, or remove someone from the house.

Number seven, rise above

I know it is extremely frustrating, but sometimes, some people cannot be changed and will just be awful people forever. You have to simply rise above and ignore the behaviour. Your university years are meant to be fun, enjoyable and stress free, so don’t let someone else ruin this for you!

So, what to do?

Try talking to them, and if this does not work, then leave them be. I know it’s frustrating, but acknowledge that they will not change.

Number eight, enjoy yourself

Know your rights, speak your mind, be kind, be polite and helpful. Talk to people, express how you are feeling, make sure people follow the rota and respect each other, express your concern if something is worrying you, avoid passive aggressive notes and know when things have gone too far.


Elizabeth Whittingham Elizabeth is a third year history student studying at The University of Manchester.