Check out our tips on how to deal with a bad roommate before having to deal with a potential financial nightmare and kick them out (or move out yourself).
25 million Americans lived in shared housing as of 2017.
Sharing a house is fast becoming an attractive option for many. Splitting living expenses can help you save for other necessities. It also doesn’t hurt to have the company around.
While sharing a home is not all about cost saving, the dynamics of human relationships do come into play. Before you put out an invite, you need to know how to deal with a bad roommate.
Here are some ideas to help you cope should you end up with a difficult roommate.
Table of Contents
Understand Their Behavior
If you are wondering how to deal with a bad roommate, you are probably stuck with someone you don’t like.
Every roommate will offend you at some point or another. The critical indicator to determine if you can get along is whether they listen when you air your grievances.
Take them out to lunch or coffee and chew the fat in a relaxed environment. At times the issue might not be that your roommate is inconsiderate.
They may be reacting to a preconceived notion of you that, once they spend time with you, will become irrelevant.
If after multiple attempts to create rapport outside the house you find that there’s no change in negative behavior, you may need to consider other courses of action.
Have a Clearly Defined Agreement
When you saddle up with a roommate for the first time you should define the roles and responsibilities everyone has.
Discuss how you will share the house and set firm operational rules around chores. A critical aspect to look at is the financial obligations you and your roommate will have.
Do not assume that it is obvious your roommate knows what their financial contribution is and when it will be falling due. Discuss it till there is no point of ambiguity.
To avoid a back-and-forth situation during misunderstandings, it is wise to draft an agreement and sign it.
It may not be a legally binding document, but it creates an air of expectation that will help run things smoothly.
Some of the most horrific roommate stories are due to lack of clarity on who does what and when. If you don’t mutually agree on how things will work, it might frustrate you and even drain your finances.
Set Boundaries Concerning Visitors
Few things can drive bad roommates to butt heads with you than issues surrounding visitors they invite over. You will need to set boundaries around those issues so that there is little to no friction.
When you move in with someone, tactfully ask them how often they have any guests over. If there is someone in the picture they are dating, you will get to know about it.
As you find out about their approach to having people over, you need to keep an open mind. Remember that we have different worldviews and approach things differently.
Find out what areas of common ground you and your roommate can have in regards to having visitors.
If there will be regular visitors, you can agree on a visiting ‘schedule’ so that everyone can have their privacy.
Then there is the matter of sleepovers. Will there be regular overnight visits? If so, how many times in a week?
The issue of finances when regular guests come around needs to be discussed as well. If your roommate will be having a regular guest over it means that there will be an extra person to feed. It also implies that you will spend more on utilities.
Will your roommate contribute a little extra to the budget to cover this expense? Or will you split it instead? If you don’t have the financial discussions you might end up overspending and run out of money.
Avoid being passive-aggressive with your roommate when it comes to visitors so that you can reach a lasting arrangement.
Talk About Changes in the Lease
At some point, circumstances might change.
Your roommate might wake up one day wanting to pack up and travel the world, for example. Or you might find a new job and no longer be able to share the house.
Discussing in advance what changes in the lease would mean for you and your roommate will help allay any fears.
Some people are fortunate to find a flexible landlord when they have to break the lease. In such cases, it is more about discussing how to handle exiting the house or amending the lease.
What if your landlord is stubborn and refuses to let you break the lease? You and your roommate will have to plan ahead of such a scenario so that you can come up with alternative means of handling the matter.
A coordinated discussion around lease breaking will help accommodate you and your roommate’s financial situation.
How to Deal with a Bad Roommate: Set Ground Rules for Conflict Resolution
Interpersonal relationships with others will inevitably lead to conflict. That includes your relationship with your roommate.
Owning this fact at the start of your sharing a house will help craft healthy ways to resolve conflict. It is when roommates cannot deal with issues at all that horror stories develop.
Understand your temperament in relation to your roommate’s. If there are differences that will affect how to process conflict, you can use that insight to work through matters.
For example, if your roommate is the type to handle a matter on the spot while you prefer thinking it over, you can come to a compromise. Whenever disagreements arise, you will not feel pressured to speak, and they will not feel disregarded.
Talking it out is one of the most potent ways to eliminate difficult relationships with roommates.
Understand that Human Relationships are Complex
Sharing a house is an attractive option that can help you cut down on your living expenses. You can redirect those savings to other necessities that enhance your life.
However, living with a roommate requires you to understand the dynamics that influence human relationships. You must know how to deal with a bad roommate if you find yourself in an unfortunate situation.
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