How to be the perfect student housemate

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Sharing a home can be a challenging experience. Any group of people is likely to contain individuals with very different approaches to life. When strangers (at least initially) find themselves living in the same space every day, conflicts can easily emerge. But don’t worry – handled intelligently, those conflicts can also be easily resolved or, indeed, avoided in the first place. Sharing a student house can be one of the best experiences you will ever have, forging genuinely lifelong friendships.

Here are 10 tips to help you be the perfect student housemate:

  • Make a good first impression. Remember, very possibly like you, your fellow housemates might arrive with a mix of emotions, from excitement to nervousness. If you all want to go out for a drink on your first night together, that’s great. But if one of your housemates is perhaps too shy to mix at first, respect their feelings. There will be plenty of time to get to know each other.
  • Knock before going into anyone’s room. No, let’s be more accurate – knock and then wait to be invited inside. You don’t want to catch a housemate [insert embarrassing act of your choice here].
  • Respect other people’s possessions. You might think this point hardly needs to be mentioned…but you might then find you are unpleasantly surprised. Don’t use someone else’s towel or eat their food from the fridge. What seems trivial to you could be a cause of major resentment for one of your housemates.
  • If you buy any items together, make sure everyone is clear on their financial commitments. Student friendships can be damaged when people avoid paying for communal purchases. Everyone should agree, in writing, to share the cost of that new TV!
  • Don’t encourage opportunist theft by carelessly leaving doors and windows open. You might not be the person whose computer gets stolen by a passing burglar.
  • If bills are not included in your rent and have to be paid separately, remember those costs will be shared among you and your housemates. Don’t create tension by wasting electricity, for example. Just because it’s a freezing cold December, you can’t go out and leave the heater on in your room all day.
  • Not wanting to sound like your mother, but clean up after yourself! Dishes don’t wash themselves. Dishwashers don’t load themselves.
  • Draw up an agreed rota, amongst you and your housemates, for domestic tasks. If you don’t have a written rota, at least be considerate. Keep track of when you last made the tea or cleaned the bathroom. It’s surprisingly easy for housemates to unwittingly slide into letting one person do all the work. That person might be seething and about to explode!
  • Have you heard of volume control? Incredibly, not everyone likes the same music as you. The person in the room next door might even be trying to study.
  • Respect your landlord and the property. Remember, if you and your housemates have signed a joint tenancy agreement together, your landlord will hold you collectively responsible for damage to the property. If therefore, one of your housemates breaks a window, part of the money needed for the repair work will effectively be taken from your personal deposit, even though you were in no way responsible for the damage. Check the terms of your tenancy agreement carefully. (If you have signed a so-called ‘individual contract’ with your landlord, rather than a joint tenancy agreement, you will be better protected against being held accountable for the sins of your housemates.) Do you really want to keep paying out for your constantly clumsy or irresponsible fellow tenant?

The rules of sharing a home successfully are really very simple – show respect; be considerate; build trust; have fun.