Living with housemates can be quite a surprise in comparison to living at home. These are the people you will be living with for at least the next year, so it is worth getting to know everyone, and work out how you'll be living together in the year ahead - will you be sharing anything? How is that going to work? Who needs to pay what bills? Who is buying the toilet tissue?
Aim to sit down with your new housemates on day one (or before then if you already know each other!) and work out some basic rules. Agree on whether certain things will be shared or not, who is taking responsibility for what, and anything else you all feel is important to allow you to get along. Once theyre written, stick it on the fridge or somewhere prominent. These are the basic rules you'll come back to all year, so make sure you have them set out now.
Creating and agreeing to stick to rotas or other plans can be helpful to keep the whole house on board. Plan a cleaning rota that makes keeping communal areas clean easy, and equally everyone's responsibility. Keeping communal spaces (especially kitchens) clean are a frequent issue raised in housemate disputes. Planning with each other from the start can head off these issues.
Equally, if you are on a meter for gas and electric, creating a rolling rota for who goes to put this on each week takes the onus off one person to pay every time.
You may choose to share certain groceries to cut down on costs, again coming to an agreement on who goes to get them and when is helpful to the whole house.
Also, don't forget that showing your housemates a little respect and forewarning if you want to plan a get together can be handy, especially if you don't know each other too well. If a housemate has an exam at 9am tomorrow, don't decide to bring everyone to your house for the evening.
Sharing a home can be stressful at the best of times, let alone with the added pressure of studying. If you are having ongoing issues with a housemate/s that you are unable to resolve, this can have an impact on your studies and wellbeing.
Talk to them first
Sometimes, situations can be resolved before they get too serious just with a simple chat. Your flatmate may not realise how loud their music is, or how annoying their behaviour can be. Sometimes a quiet word in private can be the best way to resolve things. Try not to be too accusatory- be assertive but polite, and don’t get drawn into an argument.
If talking to a person one on one has no effect, then it may be worth getting other flatmates involved. However, if someone feels like they’re being ganged up on, or if everyone in the flat doesn’t like them, their behaviour may actually become more antisocial.
If you want to tackle something as a flat, maybe try discussing a few issues at once in order to seem less like you’re singling out one person. Including yourself and generalising issues can also help e.g. suggesting everyone is a bit quieter after 11pm during exam season, or you all do more cleaning may have a better effect than singling out one person. Setting clear ground rules for chores and noise is a good way to avoid disputes.
If you’re living in private rented accommodation
Private landlords and letting agencies don’t normally want to get involved in disputes between tenants. It’s also worth bearing in mind that you can all be held responsible for any damage caused or anti-social behaviour. This is why it’s so important to choose your housemates carefully and not rush into anything.
It’s also much harder to leave private rented accommodation part way through the tenancy agreement- you’ll normally have to find someone to take over your room, or you’ll end up paying two rents. However, if you really want to leave, the first step is normally to discuss things with your landlord.
If you’re having serious issues in private rented accommodation, it may still be worth speaking to the landlord, especially if someone is breaching their tenancy (e.g. having guests to stay more often than permitted). If the landlord is willing to speak to your housemate, then this might help resolve the situation.
You can also contact us in the Students’ Union and if all the housemates agree then we can organise some mediation to try and resolve the issues you are facing.