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Four Straightforward Tips for Handling an Obnoxious Housemate

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The dirty dishes have piled up, late-night guests have ruined your sleep once again, and you’ve finally decided that you can’t stand your housemate.

Maybe you needed to have someone else to help pay the rent and didn’t know of anyone else who could move in with you. Or, maybe the person is just one of those people who seemed real nice but is awful to live with.

In any case, you’re stuck for the time being. Erin Leigh of 407apartments.com, an apartment hunting service for the Orlando area, offers these tips: 

“Yeah, roomie, your dirty dishes are right where you left them. And are you really flossing your teeth in the kitchen again!?”

Approach your roommate directly regarding their behavior. It’s difficult to set expectations when you first move in with a new housemate, but most people have a good idea of proper behavior when living with other people. If subtle hints about their behavior have not stopped them from crossing the threshold into “unbearable,” it’s time for a frank discussion.

Start by writing a full list of your grievances, which will help you get your feelings and expected solutions in order. Take your housemate to a neutral location and calmly let them know how their behavior has been affecting you and how you’d like it to change. Make sure you avoid getting angry, and let your housemate have their say. If you can fix the problems with a simple conversation, you’ll both be happier.

Find a mediator. Some disputes may be too big for you to handle by yourself. If you are in college, you most likely have a number of student mediation or legal services to help you settle any disputes you may have with you roommates or housemates. Student legal services can help you resolve conflicts across many broad topics, helping both parties arrive at a solution that will meet your needs. Remember that you don’t have to be living on campus to take advantage of your school’s services.

Housemate conflicts are not limited to the college lifestyle, of course, but mediation is still an effective way to deal with an obnoxious, post-college housemate. The most important factor is finding a friend or counselor who can remain neutral and help find a workable solution. You may not be completely satisfied with the outcome, but compromise can dramatically help the situation.

Contact your landlord. This should be an avenue of last resort. A good landlord stays out of your business as much as possible, so it’s probably his or her worst nightmare to play referee to you and your housemate. If you feel your housemate’s obnoxious behavior is damaging the house, you may want to get your landlord involved, but it is best to settle any disputes internally.

Buy Your Housemate Out of Their Rent. Hopefully you can settle any dispute on good terms, but if you have gotten to the point where you can’t stand your housemate, you can negotiate a peaceful surrender. If you can swing it, offer to cover any damages to your current apartment and the deposit on a new apartment. Get everything in writing and agree on a move-out date. You’ll have to find a new roommate who is agreeable to both you and your landlord, but you’ll have a fresh start.

The best way to settle a dispute with an obnoxious housemate is to avoid flare-ups (the worst of which you can see here) altogether. Set expectations for your house or apartment early and make sure everyone sticks to them.

Be mature about the situation, Leigh said, and do your best to settle disputes like an adult.

Putting cheese under a housemate’s bed might work for Snooki, but if you keep a cool head you should be able to find a good solution without resorting to stink-bombing your housemate out of your pad.

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About Brian P. Russell

Brian Russell lives in University of Florida's Gator Country. He enjoys exploring new places and learning new things, plus sharing what he's found with others. Turnoffs include double spaces after periods and emails with unneeded CCs. He plays H-O-R-S-E at 3 p.m. EST every weekday at 352 Media Group.