5 common housemate issues & how to solve them
When we move into a house share, we might assume we’re going to be living on a sitcom set, a ‘Friends’ inspired utopia where it’s laugh a minute and hilarious hijinks around every corner. And most of the time it is! But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be a few issues along the way. It’s totally normal to have a few gripes with your housemates, but if you can resolve them there’s no reason you can’t live together happily.
Here at Lyvly we are housesharing experts - and know how to navigate the bad times as well as enjoying the good ones. Here are 5 of the most common issues housemates face and our advice on how to resolve them.
“You still owe for the gas bill - from two months ago!”
There are many dynamics at play when you move into a house-share. There will always be one person who is slightly more organised and responsible than the rest, who takes on the parental role. If this is you, you will probably find that you tend to be the one to taking charge of all of the household bills.
Whilst this might mean that you get peace of mind knowing your gas and electric is always paid on time, it can also mean that you spend more time than you would like chasing debts from your housemates.
An easy way to resolve this is to ask your housemates to set up a direct debit to you each month, that comes in before any bills come out. This way you know that you’ll have enough money in your account to cover any outgoings - and you won’t need to keep chasing Dan for that £5.40 for the broadband.
At Lyvly we take all of the hassle out of household bills. Each member pays one bill to Lyvly each month which covers everything from council tax to Netflix.
“Can someone else please buy toilet paper? I’ve bought the last 5 rolls”
Even if you get your monthly bills organised properly, there are still plenty of shared goods in the house that can cause conflict if not paid for equally. Toilet paper, washing liquid, and even fridge essentials like milk and butter are the kinds of thing housemates tend to share, which is fine - unless you're the only one who remembers to buy them.
Some houses find that setting up a monthly shopping delivery for these household basics can be helpful. You always know it’s going to arrive just as you’re running out and you can split the regular costs up with the rest of your bills.
This is a similar system to how Lyvly homes work - we provide things like bin liners, dishwasher tablets and cleaning products each month, and the costs are included in your rent. If you still find that your house is buying shared items piecemeal, there are some great apps like Acasa, Splitwise and Divvy that help you keep track of shared expenses.
“Turn. That. Music. Down!”
Throwing a bunch of people together in a living situation can sometimes result in major lifestyle clashes. When moving in together, it's useful to establish a few ground rules on things like late-night noise, throwing parties and mid-week guests. If you all agree that Monday-Friday the house should be a quiet, chilled place by 11pm - then stick to it.
Whilst house shares should definitely be fun - you don’t want to feel like you’re living in a library - you should respect the pre-agreed rules and always run plans past your housemates if you feel like they might be pushing the boundaries. If you have a housemate who’s treating your home like a Frat house, it’s probably best to calmly chat with them the next day, rather than in the heat of the moment when emotions - and possibly alcohol levels - are running high.
At Lyvly, our membership committee works hard to match you with housemates we believe you’d be suited to. Whilst we can’t guarantee no one will ever wake you up by stumbling in at 2am, we try to make sure that you have shared values and similar lifestyles, so these clashes should be kept to a minimum.
“Whose are these dirty plates?”
Untidy housemates are one of the biggest causes of strain in a house share. Your room may be as pristine as the Four Seasons but if the kitchen is full of dirty plates and the bathroom is resembling a cesspit, it’s impossible to enjoy your home.
Some house shares find a cleaning rota can be helpful for making sure everyone does their fair share of chores. However, it only takes one person to stay out overnight and forget to take the bins out for it to become an even bigger bone of contention.
A cleaner for common areas is a great investment if you need to relieve the pressure off you and your housemates - it’s one of the reasons a weekly housekeeper is included with all Lyvly memberships. At least if you know that the mould in the bathroom is going to be taken care of, it will give you some peace of mind.
However, even a regular cleaner won’t be able to deal with the general mess. As with all housemate issues - communication is key. People who are naturally messy don’t always notice how much they leave their stuff around - and many would be devastated if they knew their actions were making you unhappy.
Try to calmly point out when people are impacting the atmosphere of the communal areas by making a mess, and if all else fails, piling their stuff outside their room tends to get the message across!
“Please don’t go in my room without asking”
Ever come home and get that sixth sense feeling that someone has been in your room? Whether it’s because they’ve been borrowing your hairbrush or letting their mate crash in your bed, invasion of your private space without your permission is not ok.
It’s really important to set clear boundaries with your housemates - whilst they might not mind you borrowing their stuff or going into their room when you’re not there, if you do, you need to tell them.
This is one of those times that it can be useful to set house rules so that everyone knows what is acceptable and the process to go through if you do want to borrow something or go into their private space. As your relationship develops you may find that you are less affected by them popping in when you’re out, but it shouldn’t be a given.
Obviously, if this becomes a real issue and you are concerned about the security of your belongings, you could ask to have a lock instilled on your bedroom door. Whilst this can be a divisive move, it might be something you have to consider in extreme cases.
The Five Step Guide to Resolving Any Housemate Dispute
- Speak face to face.
Passive-aggressive WhatsApp messages never got anyone anywhere. If you have an issue with your housemates, always try to start off with a friendly but frank chat.
- Write things down.
Even though you should definitely start off by speaking, if you come to any agreements about money or house rules, make sure you follow up your conversation with an email clarifying what you agreed in writing.
- Call a house meeting.
If the issues is getting bigger and still not resolved, bring the whole house together to discuss the problems you’re having. You may find that other people feel similarly to you and the extra support may be enough to force some change.
- Escalate the problem to your landlord or estate agent.
Now, that’s not to say you should bother your landlord with a moan about someone not buying their own toilet paper, but if your housemate is disrespecting the house, breaking rules and putting your tenancy in jeopardy, it may be time to bring in a third party to deal with them.
- Think about moving out.
Whilst moving can be a real hassle, house-shares are like relationships, you don’t have to stay in a bad one when there are plenty of great ones out there. Sometimes in life, you have to cut your losses and walk away - why not come and have a chat with us at Lyvly?