Have you got housemate problems? Living with other people requires a certain level of tolerance, patience and humour and many people experience problems with housemates. This takes practice and is a life skill that doesn’t come overnight. However it is essential for everyone’s happiness that you try hard to gain these skills as soon as you’re able.
Setting ground rules
Before you move in with your group of friends, take time to set some ground rules, establish what your expectations are of each other, know each other’s red lines and define all of your understandings of individual rights and responsibilities. See whether they match! It is very likely that there will be differences so chat about how you can make compromises. It’s a good idea to reach an agreement now even if this is hard as this will set the boundaries straight away.
Once you have reached an agreement, you might want to write this set of principles down and put this up in the kitchen or a common area. Take time to read it every month.
Also make a decision about how you will resolve issues that arise as you go along. Is it that you will ask another housemate or mutual friend to help mediate? Do you agree to sit and talk about the problem at a time when you are all calm? Are you as a household going to have a monthly meeting to discuss any issues? This doesn’t need to be formal, you could do this over a shared meal.
Keeping the lines of communication open is the best way to deal with tricky housemates and problems that arise, because the longer housemate problems remain unresolved, a wall of silence can develop which is difficult to break down. Choose your moment carefully when you are all calm because a heated discussion will make things worse.
If fellow tenants do things that annoy or upset you, try to remain calm and show some understanding and tolerance. Most people don’t do things deliberately to annoy others, it’s often that they are just not thinking. Also think about the outside factors that could be making you less tolerant than you would be normally so that dissertation deadline could be a contributory factor!
Remember that all tenants have the legal right to be there and to use all the common parts of the property so it’s not ok to invite all of your friends around to spend all night in the kitchen preventing the other tenants from cooking their dinner. However, on the flip side, you are allowed to have guests so if you want to invite your friends around, as long as they and you are respectful of the rights of the other tenants, this is ok.
It’s important to bear in mind that you don’t have to be best friends with everyone you live with, you just need to get along enough to live together and be polite and respectful of each other.
Sometimes, disputes and housemate problems can get out of hand. Small issues can blow up into bigger disputes where positions become entrenched and there is no way back to friendship or even tolerance. Sometimes, a co-tenant’s behaviour can be unreasonable or threatening out of the blue with no warning or prior history.
It can be very difficult to deal with an issue like this as generally the co-tenant cannot be reasoned with.
If you feel threatened or unsafe in the property, then you should leave and find somewhere to stay immediately as your safety is of paramount importance. In such a situation, you may wish to speak to security at your university. You can also speak to a Welfare adviser and the Police and of course tell the landlord or agents why you have moved out.
A co-tenant who behaves unreasonably and in a disruptive manner is likely to be breaching the tenancy agreement and you should get advice from your student adviser to see if this is the case. You could speak to your landlord or agents about this, but they may be unwilling or reluctant to act. There may be grounds for eviction against the co-tenant but the court process moves slowly and you may find that even if your landlord is willing to act, it could take several months to progress this to a decision at court if the co-tenant refuses to leave.
If you leave, remember that your liability will continue despite not living there and you will still need to pay the rent unless you find someone to move in and replace you.
Phone: +44 (0)116 257 7595, option 3
Or visit Student Finance and Welfare, Student Gateway, Gateway House
Phone: +44 (0)116 223 1185
Or visit the Student Service Centre, Charles Wilson Building