Don't be the sucky roommate

BY PAUL ALLEN
Observer writer

Sunday, June 23, 2019

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Your girlfriend does not pay rent here so why do I see her as much as you do?

Whether we do it for school or for more affordable living, having a room-mate or house-mate is something most of us will experience, particularly, in urban areas where accommodations are scare and rent can be expensive.

Sharing space with someone can be quite a challenge to navigate, especially when individuals have separate interests, schedules, taste levels, and expectations. It can get even more difficult when the individual who drank your last bottle of Pepsi is a good friend or relative who you are reluctant to reprove.

Now, it is unlikely (read impossible) that you will see eye to eye on everything, as such, it is the responsibility of each room-mate to be open to dialogue, compromise, and cooperation.

This is where establishing house rules and boundaries become important because your comfort is of utmost importance.

BILLS

Money is often an uncomfortable topic but one which must be covered clearly and fully before space sharing is determined. Bills should be split fairly and paid on time, all the time. Fairly may not mean fifty-fifty, if there is an understanding that one uses far more water than the other because they choose to do laundry twice per week.

It's primarily about recognising individual use and allocating expenses accordingly. Beforehand, discuss what bills will be shared and how payment will be made, also accounting for reimbursement should one person pay any bill in full whether by request or circumstance.

DON'T 'BORROW' WITHOUT PERMISSION

We may live together, but never assume you have the run of someone's personal effects without asking. You cannot be sure of how they will respond, so regardless of how close you may be, it never hurts to ask. It's also the polite thing to do.

CLEANING IS EVERYONE'S RESPONSIBILITY

She took the trash out last week, did the dishes yesterday, and volunteered to sweep the yard this weekend. It should go without saying that the next time these things need to be done, unless otherwise decided, it's your turn, Linda. A schedule helps and is far less annoying than having to be constantly told.

RESPECT PERSONAL SPACE

Despite sharing common areas, sometimes people just want to be left alone and their belongings to be left untouched. Stay out of my bedroom. Leave my clothes alone. No reason is necessary, it does not have to be explained, just allow them the space requested.

REPLACE ANYTHING YOU FINISH

Don't be the person who uses the last of the toilet paper and leaves the empty roll behind. This should go without saying.

OVERNIGHT GUESTS ARE A DISCUSSION

If they don't pay rent, their presence overnight needs to be communicated and discussed. There should be no stumbling into a stranger in semi-darkness while trying to find the bathroom. Or worse, unusual night-time noises that make eating breakfast unnecessarily uncomfortable. Also, a quick text helps if the place is in disarray or you'd rather not be around when they arrive.

SHOWERS ARE NOT EVENTS

Get in, get clean, get out! A poorly shared bathroom can be one of the first things to make a room-mate situation sour. Be considerate of the other person who needs to get ready for school or work; you're not the only one trying to get out the house.

QUIET TIME

There's a place and time for everything. These must be communicated quickly and clearly to ensure that your study hours don't coincide with your roommate's impromptu games night.

DON'T GOSSIP

Perhaps most importantly, do not have discussions about your room-mate with someone who isn't your room-mate. It can be tempting to share your annoyance with someone just to get it off your chest, but you don't want to run the risk of having your room-mate hear it back. If you have an issue, say so. Ignoring it or sharing with a third party will not get it fixed.

As a general rule, don't make copies of keys to hand out without talking about it; if you smoke or have any other habits that will affect someone, stating that upfront can make a world of difference, and don't assume your pets are welcome even if the landlord is fine with them.


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