We’d like to live in a world where roommates always get along, but that can’t always happen. Fortunately, you can learn how to compromise and prevent or resolve roommate problems. Whether you live with close friends, family or people you’ve never lived with before, you may need tips for living with a roommate.
Every living situation is different, but there are some common roommate issues that arise when people live with a difficult roommate:
You and your roommate may have different ideas about what it means to be clean and organized. One person’s idea of clean could look like a complete mess to another person.
If you each have your own room, this may not be too much of a problem — but, if you share a bedroom, some cleanliness problems can arise, including:
Clutter left in shared spaces.
Unwashed dishes left around the kitchen.
Dirt, grime or spills left uncleaned in the kitchen, bathroom and other shared areas.
Having guests over is another common point of conflict among roommates. Whether it’s family dropping in, unexpected parties, or small get-togethers, having too many people over can cause serious conflict between roommates — especially if they aren’t notified in advance.
While your apartment is your roommate’s space as well, it can be frustrating to deal with the noise, crowds or mess that comes with unexpected guests. When those guests turn into overnight visitors, you may feel uncomfortable, or like you’ve lost control of your apartment.
Late nights, music, movies and guests can bring loud and unwelcome noise. In some cases, it can lead to disturbing your sleep or relaxation. If it gets really out of hand, it can result in your neighbors complaining as well.
Borrowing a roommate’s belongings is one thing — borrowing without permission or giving it back is another. If you notice your roommate’s “borrowing” teeters on the side of stealing, you may have an issue on your hands.
It could be something simple, like taking your leftovers from the fridge or more invasive, like taking your clothes and other personal belongings. No matter the item, your property is yours, and you have a choice in whether or not you share it.
Other Conflicts With Roommates
Along with the issues above, you may also experience a roommate who:
Breaks the rules of your lease.
Invades your personal space.
Operates on a conflicting schedule.
Has a conflicting lifestyle.
How to Avoid Roommate Conflict
While living with a difficult roommate, you may experience some serious issues. But, if you’re lucky, you may be able to prevent these problems. While some conflicts are unavoidable, you can help prevent others with certain steps:
Find the right roommate: You can avoid a lot of potential conflicts with roommates if you choose the right ones in the first place. Finding a good roommate can be challenging, especially if you don’t have a lot of time to select one — but, if you can, try to be selective. Ask in-depth questions to ensure they’ll be a good fit as your roommate. Of course, you may not always have a choice — particularly if you’re living with friends or family. But, if you have freedom in the decision, take advantage of it.
Communicate: Be honest and respectful when you address concerns with your roommate. Rather than being passive-aggressive, try to be constructive. Explain how a situation could have a negative impact on you and suggest steps to avoid these problems in the future.
Establish rules and guidelines: Set boundaries early in your roommate relationship, and have refreshers of these rules to prevent conflicts. Write down the rules in a roommate agreement, and make sure each person has input. If you find yourself in an awkward confrontation later on, you can use the roommate agreement to support your argument. Hopefully, creating guidelines for using the shared spaces in your apartment will help prevent conflict before it starts.
Be a good roommate yourself: To avoid conflict, you must also address any of your own shortcomings. Maybe you procrastinate on doing the dishes or listen to loud music without headphones. Read up on how to be a good roommate and be the considerate person you’d like to live with. Your roommate will appreciate your efforts and possibly mirror your behaviors, preventing potential conflicts.
How to Deal With Roommate Problems
Sometimes your best efforts to avoid conflict aren’t enough. Even if you can’t avoid every conflict with your roommates, you can still handle the resulting problems. To help, here’s a guide to lessening or solving your roommate problems:
Evaluate how the problem impacts you: Maybe you’re stressed about a cluttered kitchen, or perhaps you can’t sleep because of guests, loud noises or other intrusions. Think about how the situation impacts you, so you can communicate it to your roommate.
See if there’s any way you can solve it: Some problems aren’t worth the conflict. If you think the issue might be a one-time thing or if it’s a relatively small problem, it might be easier to take care of it yourself, rather than let it spiral out of control. Still, be sure to tell your roommate that you took care of a problem to avoid creating a pattern of behavior.
Set time aside to address the issue: Don’t complain about something right as your roommate is walking out the door. Establish when you both have free time to sit down and talk about the issue. Let your roommate know what you want to discuss, rather than giving them a cryptic, “We need to talk.” Being open and honest throughout the whole process is the best way to resolve the issue.
Be understanding: Life can get in the way of responsibilities sometimes. If your roommate is stressed at work or going through personal problems, try te be empathetic.
Suggest solutions: Resolving roommate conflict is more productive when you approach the conversation with a solution in mind. Offer your roommate some options, and feel free to brainstorm more with them, so they feel involved in the process.
Debrief: Don’t leave the conversation on a bad note. Tell your roommate that you appreciate their positive attributes and explain how solving the problem could benefit both of you. Encourage open communication and maybe even ask if there’s anything you can do to improve as a roommate.
Some conflicts may be too severe to solve. In those extreme cases, sit down with your roommate to address the issue and the possibility of changing your living situation. This type of news isn’t something you should spring on someone, so set aside enough time and give them warning in advance.
How to Resolve a Roommate Issue
No one wants to have trouble with a roommate, especially if it could lead to an argument. Hopefully, you won’t find yourself in any of these situations, but if you do, take these or similar steps to resolving roommate conflict:
You’re tired of always coming home to a sink full of dirty dishes. One night, the mountain of mugs, plates and silverware seems particularly high and overwhelming. In that case, consider:
The impact: The mess in the sink makes you feel more stressed at the end of a long day. It’s difficult to wash your own dishes or get water from the tap because of the clutter. You don’t even want to use your kitchen because of the mess.
Any solutions: You could wash the dishes yourself, but that feels unfair since you aren’t the one who dirtied them. If this was a rare occurrence or if there were fewer dishes to deal with, you may feel more inclined to help, but not in this case.
Time to address it: Ask your roommate if they’re free tonight to talk about the state of the kitchen. Talk about it over dinner or after they get home from work.
Understanding: If your roommate had to work overtime one night and left a few dishes for the next day, empathize with their stress, but mention the clutter makes your life stressful as well. Admit that sometimes, you don’t want to do the dishes either when you’ve had a bad day, but having a clean space is important to you, so you do it anyway.
Suggestions: Offer to help dry or put away the dishes as your roommate washes them or encourage them to clean as they cook to minimize the mess. If your schedules allow for it and you’re close with your roommate, you could also offer to split up the work of cooking and cleaning. One of you cooks, and one of you cleans up, switching roles throughout the week or whenever you need to.
The debrief: Emphasize that both of you use the kitchen. It’s easier to stay on top of the dishes if the sink isn’t cluttered. If the dishes pile up again and your roommate doesn’t wash them by the next day, sit down and have another conversation.
If you’re having other cleanliness or organization problems in your apartment, like keeping your bathroom clean, you can take similar steps, like:
Staying stocked up on cleaning supplies.
Getting organizers for cluttered areas.
Defining shared and private spaces and how to clean each.
Creating a rotating cleaning schedule.
Breaking the cleaning or organizing process down into manageable tasks.
You come home one night to find your roommate hosting a party that you didn’t know would be happening. Maybe you know the guests, or maybe you don’t. Either way, you were planning on a quiet night in, but there’s no chance of that now. If you have a roommate who often brings unwanted guests over, consider:
The impact: You’re stressed when people you don’t know or trust are in the apartment. There’s always a mess the next morning, and you’re concerned the neighbors will complain about all the noise.
Any solutions: Unless you kick everyone out, you may not have many options in the moment. You could hide out in your room until the guests leave, but you deserve to use your apartment as much as your roommate does.
Time to address it: If you can make it through the party, tell your roommate afterward that you’d like to speak with them about the night’s events.
Understanding: If it’s a small and quiet get-together, you can cut your roommate some slack. Maybe everyone was getting together for a work or school task. If it was just a random party, you’d have a larger issue to deal with, especially if there were a lot of guests, noise or mess.
Suggestions: If the party is going on too late or getting too loud, you can ask your roommate to start sending people home. If you can wait until the next day, ask your roommate to plan with you beforehand if they want to have guests over. Decide which days and times are okay for get-togethers and parties, and which ones aren’t.
The debrief: Discuss whether or not you mind if your roommate has parties under certain circumstances. Maybe you can also invite a few people or just keep the get-together on a small scale. Make sure your roommate comes to you first with plans like these, and if they don’t, it’s time for another sit-down.
If you can, choose a roommate with a similar social lifestyle to yours. Add a section to your roommate agreement about get-togethers and inviting guests over. Of course, make sure you show your roommate the same consideration if you plan to have guests.
Noisy roommates can be all too common. Let’s say your roommate listens to music often without headphones. If that happens, consider:
The impact: The loud noise is distracting when you’re trying to relax, sleep or get work done. You can’t focus, and it’s making you feel stressed.
Any solutions: You can get noise-canceling headphones or earplugs, but at a certain point, you’d just like to be able to relax in your apartment.
Time to address it: Ask your roommate if they have some time to talk about their music. This issue may not take a lot of time to discuss, but it’s still important to make the time.
Understanding: Maybe your roommate is stressed, and listening to music is how they relax. Surely you can relate, but you’d like them to be courteous about their listening.
Suggestions: Suggest that your roommate wear headphones in shared areas or if they want the volume up high. Determine times when music is acceptable out-loud and when to switch over to headphones.
The debrief: Bond over your music tastes or compliment your roommate’s interests. Let them borrow your headphones or suggest some good brands they could buy. Remember, if the problem persists, you may need to have another chat.
When you become roommates, try to prevent noise issues by coming up with rules for the roommate agreement. Make sure you aren’t listening to loud music yourself, and follow the same rules and expectations you have for your roommate.
You notice your roommate is borrowing your belongings without giving them back or taking them without permission. Approach the situation delicately before accusing your roommate of theft. Try considering:
The impact: You’re looking for something of yours that you need, but you can’t find it. The search stresses you out, and you may end up late because of it.
Any solutions: If you notice your roommate using something of yours without permission, you have to address the issue.
Time to address it: This may be a harder conversation to have if you aren’t close with your roommate, but it’s critical to set boundaries.
Understanding: If your roommate took one item of yours by accident, try to be understanding. But, if your roommate is knowingly taking items that belong to you, it might be harder to understand. Don’t accuse them of stealing — instead, ask if they borrowed something of yours and express you’d prefer they ask first.
Suggestions: Set guidelines for what’s on and off-limits for borrowing. Establish rules for what your roommate can do if they want to borrow something, and you aren’t around to ask. Are they allowed to borrow certain items without getting permission every time? Would you prefer they always ask no matter what?
The debrief: Let your roommate know you don’t mind sharing, but you have boundaries and limits. Add rules to a roommate agreement and bring up the conversation again if any issues occur later.
If you and your roommate are close, you may consider a system in which they borrow your things, and you borrow theirs. Set boundaries and time frames so everyone gets their items back.
Other Tips for Living With a Roommate
If you’re looking for an extra defense against a difficult roommate, you’ll need to consider some other methods for peaceful living:
Discuss issues with other roommates: If you have a problem with one roommate, talk to your other roommates to see if they have the same problem. Involve them in the conversation to avoid the same issue with them in the future. Everyone will be on the same terms, and you can even avoid putting the blame on one person when everyone is there to listen.
Compromise when possible: When you and your roommates have different schedules, lifestyles or ideas on living in an apartment, you have to accommodate all of your needs. Figure out how to compromise with your roommates, so everyone gets some aspect of what they want.
Review your apartment’s policies together: If you notice your roommate breaking the rules of your agreement, sit down together and go over your apartment building’s rules. Every location is different, so going over policies will ensure you both know what’s off-limits in your building. This is also a good opportunity to go over personal rules for your apartment. Then, you’ll all know how to avoid roommate conflict.
Remember, communication is essential when dealing with your roommates. Talk about what’s wrong, and listen if they have an issue with you. With any luck, you’ll all be able to resolve the problems that can happen with roommates.
The Roommate Agreement
If you lived in a dorm in college, you may have had to write up and sign a roommate agreement. While a roommate agreement may seem a little extreme to some people, even just the idea behind them can be really helpful.
Everyone is different and has unique expectations and ways of life. When you share a space with other people, it will become obvious how you and your roommates differ. Sometimes, these differences can cause issues and even fights between roommates. A roommate agreement will make each person’s expectations clear and prevent conflict.
Why Make One?
You may think you don’t need to make a roommate agreement. Maybe you’ve decided to live with one of your friends or feel like you can settle anything when it comes up down the road. You can live with roommates without an agreement, but it can help everyone have a good relationship.
It may not be obvious right away that you may need one. But after a few weeks, you may start seeing your differences and how they affect each other. You may need to get up earlier than your roommate to get to a job that’s farther away, or maybe your roommate keeps bringing guests over without letting you know first. Instead of getting annoyed or passive-aggressive, make a roommate agreement to work out these differences.
Your roommate agreement can be as simple or as thorough as you want. It can be a few rules you both agree on or go into much more detail. Whatever you need to discuss to make your relationship better, talk about it!
The agreement you and your roommate come up with will probably be very different than an agreement two other people would make. What you and your roommate find important may not be a big deal to other people.
These are the types of concerns you should consider covering in your roommate agreement:
It doesn’t matter if you’re living with someone you just met or a longtime friend. A roommate agreement, at the very least, gets important conversations started and helps make it clear what your expectations are for each other and your home.
Do They Work?
A roommate agreement isn’t a guaranteed way to prevent conflict between you and your roommate — it’s only useful if each person follows it. When you’re open and honest about your own behaviors and expectations for your home, your agreement can help you have a good roommate relationship.
Colleges and universities use roommate agreements for a reason. Even if you don’t write anything down, having a conversation when you first move in together can be a huge help down the road.
Rent an Apartment From Triple Crown Corporation
Learning how to solve conflict with roommates is an important part of living a stress-free, harmonious life. Hopefully, some of these roommate solutions will help you with you future living situations.
Now that you know how to handle roommate conflicts, it’s time to find a place to share with someone. At Triple Crown Corporation, we have a wide selection of rental communities in various locations. You’ll find what you need in our apartments, and with your newly acquired roommate skills, you’re sure to have a more enjoyable living experience.
Take a look at our rental properties and contact us with any questions about our apartments.