Roommate Issues

Now that you have decided to move out on your own and you and your roommate(s) have found a place to live, it is important to keep a healthy roommate relationship. To assist in keeping a healthy relationship with your roommate(s) we have gathered information you may find beneficial. This information can assist you through the process of choosing roommates, avoiding conflict, and how to deal with conflicts that may arise.

The best way to prepare for conflict is by signing a roommate contract with all roommates. A roommate contract is an agreement with specific conditions that each roommate agrees to before moving into a rental unit. This can include everything from rent payment to:

What are your class schedules like?
What are your noise tolerances while studying (phone, stereo, TV)?
When/where do you study best?

What time do you go to bed/get up?
How much sleep do you need?
Noise tolerance/intolerance?

How often and how thoroughly will you clean?
Are you a neat freak or a slob?
How clean should the bathroom be? Kitchen?
How often will the trash be taken out? Who does it?
How will the cleaning be shared?

Do you like to party? How frequently?
Does there need to be advance warning?
What guidelines, if any, will be set for guests?
How do you feel about guests sleeping over?

How much personal space do you need?
Do you smoke, drink?
Will pets be allowed?
How we we pay the bills?
How will we keep our property safe? Renter’s Insurance?

Helpful Hints for Roommate Relationships
1. Set realistic expectations. You don’t have to be best friends to be successful roommates
2. Have an open mind. Always listen and respect your roommate(s)
3. If something is bothering you, talk to you roommate(s) about it. Don’t let the small things to continue to add up to something bigger
4. Check in with one another to see how the living situation is from their perspective
5. Don’t assume that your roommates have the same living habits and expectations. Talk about it
6. Compromise
7. Be courteous to your roommate(s) and their guests
8. Encourage others to stay out of conflicts that do not involve them
9. Remember that being successful roommates is a long process and you must work toward it

Frequent Sources of Conflict
Having a roommate can be both a rewarding and challenging rental experience. You may hope to have a roommate who you have a good time with and shares common interests, but being roommates can also cause conflicts. To have a successful roommate relationship takes time and effort. Even with proper preparation and a roommate contract, conflicts may arise. Here are some common conflicts to be aware of:

  • Use of Personal Property
  • Paying Bills
  • Pets
  • Parties
  • Cleaning
  • Sleeping Schedules
  • Guests and Visitors
  • Locking Windows/Doors

Before you confront your roommate(s) with an issue, try to identify those issues for yourself. Be sure to understand why they are problems for you and how the problem can be solved.

Strategies for Conflict Resolution
1. Communication. Effective communication is essential for resolving conflicts between roommates. Be willing to make an effort to speak with one another without interruption. Try to avoid placing blame on one another by not using “you” statements. Instead, use “I” statements to explain your thoughts and feelings.
2. Define the problem. Be as specific as you can about what the problem is. Discuss the problem together and make sure you clearly understand the others’ opinion.
3. Brainstorm solutions. Talk with one another about a variety of solutions, allowing all parties to voice opinions.
4. Evaluate all solutions. Review and evaluate all of the solutions you have brainstormed. At this point you will be able to negotiate your wants/needs. Always be sure to communicate the places you are willing to negotiate.
5. Take Action. After you and your roommate have chosen the best solution you must develop a plan of action. Be very clear about how you will accomplish your solution.
6. Check in with one another. Be sure to check in with one another every so often to be sure that the other party is happy with the solution and the current living situation. Checking in and talking with one another will help in preventing future conflicts.