Housemates: don't sweat the small stuff

StudentsIf you're moving into university halls soon, you may be feeling a bit anxious, the Internet is filled with stories about the worst possible housemates that you could end up living with, and while most of these stories seem to be exaggerations, it’s difficult not to feel a bit uneasy.

The same is true if you're moving into a student property with friends, people you’ve known and become close to over the last year or two. It's often said that friends don't always make the best housemates, but if you’re able to get over minor squabbles, living with friends can be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience.

The question is, what should and shouldn't be a problem when living with other people? Today, we’re going to look at situations where it's acceptable to leave passive-aggressive notes, and when you should just put the post-it notes away.

Quiet housemates

You are more likely to encounter the quiet housemate when you move into university halls, but they can still pop up if you’re moving into a house with friends.

The quiet housemate may be shy, may already have a close group of friends, or possibly spends all their free time chatting to their friends from home. Either way, you’re very rarely going to see this elusive person, and you may even begin to doubt their very existence.

If you’re in student halls, the best approach is to either continue trying to befriend them, or move on. There are hundreds of other people to befriend while at university, so get out there and make friends!

As far as “annoying” housemate archetypes go, the quiet housemate is probably the least annoying, just as long as they contribute to the household bills and other communal responsibilities.

Loud housemates

The direct opposite of the quiet housemate is the loud housemate, the person who comes home at 3am and decides that’s the perfect time to give the house or flat a full rendition of all the songs from Beauty and the Beast. If you like your sleep, these flatmates can be terrible.

Unfortunately, there’s little you can do to stop a loud person from being loud other than politely confronting them and explaining the impact they’re having on the rest of the household. No angry shouting, or notes left in secret needed, just politely ask them to keep it down next time. You’ll be surprised how many people don’t realise how loud they’re being!

Messy housemates

There are plates in the sink that have been stacked to the ceiling, there’s mould in a half empty bowl of corn flakes and for some reason there are muddy footprints that go through the entirety of your house, these signs point to a messy housemate.

Messy housemates seem to be the number 1 cause of all passive-aggressive notes left in student accommodation. The problem is that people assume they’re living with only one messy housemate, when they could be living with several. When you live with a large group of people it is inevitable that things are going to stack up; maybe leaving your washing up until the morning may seem harmless, but if you’re living with 6 other people all thinking the same thing, mess tends to build up.

The best way to tackle messy housemates is to stop leaving passive-aggressive post it notes, and create a cleaning rota instead. You are all responsible for the cleanliness of your property, and this way you can all contribute, and if someone then doesn’t clean up, they forfeit their right to complain about the house’s appearance.

Remember, the cleaner you keep the property, the more likely you are to get a full deposit return at the end of your tenancy.

Thieving housemates

Hopefully, you won’t end up with an actual thief for a housemate, the thieving housemate is more subtle, and they go after milk and pasta rather than gold doubloons (every student has gold doubloons, right?).

If you notice you have much less milk than what you use, or that your food is disappearing, it may be that you have a thieving housemate. The shared environment of student properties gives people the impression of common ownership, for example “Oh, Tom won’t mind if I use his knife, I’ll just clean the knife once I’m done.” Usually, when it comes to utensils most people will be more than happy to share, but food and drink (especially alcohol) becomes a sticking point.

The best way to stop this is to create a small house fund where everyone contributes to the purchase of commonly used products: milk, toilet roll, pasta etc. Not only will this stop people stealing, it can also avoid food waste and save you money! That’s definitely a win-win situation.

The housemates that cause your utilities bill to skyrocket

Do you have a housemate that has three baths a day, or one that “sneakily” puts a space heater in their room? If you’ve ever opened a utilities bill and almost choked in surprise by how extortionate it is, then there are two possibilities: either you’re with a terrible service provider, or you have someone who plays fast and loose with water, gas and electricity usage.

This is a tricky situation to be in, because it involves you as a group deciding what a fair amount of usage is. Things like having the heating on during the summer is an obvious one, but should you restrict the number of showers a person can have per day?

You could agree as a house an ideal amount to be paying for utilities (after receiving your first bill, so that you can have a rough estimate of how much you should be paying), and then if any bill afterwards goes significantly over you can discuss ways to bring this total down.

The perfect housemate

Each household has exactly one perfect housemate, someone who isn’t too loud or messy, never takes stuff and knows to not overload the power sockets, and that housemate is you. Every housemate believes themselves to be infallible, and that’s why communication is so important to ensure household bliss; there’s no need to be passive-aggressive or mean, because most of the time people don’t realise what they’re doing is a problem.

At CPS Homes, we have a range of beautiful Cardiff student properties to let in CathaysRoath and other Cardiff neighbourhoods. To find out more, or to enquire about a student property, contact us via email: or pop into our Cathays branch on Woodville Road.

15 June 2016


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