Wednesday, May 22Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

How to Deal with Terrible Housemates

Everybody has at least one domestic horror story throughout university, starring the notorious ‘terrible housemates.’

Shared accommodation means living within very close proximities to friends and also those you may not consider friends. Whether it’s the flatmates you are allocated in first year (and have no choice but to share with) or your very own, handpicked housemate, there are many disasters just waiting to happen. So how do we deal with the ‘terrible housemate’ trope? Whether it’s the party animal stumbling in and leaving pizza all over the kitchen, the slob or the 3am virtuoso, try and keep your cool. Here are some ways to deal with them once passive-aggressive post-it notes have failed!

Firstly, you should always try and talk to the person. It could be work-related stress causing them to be extra messy, extra loud or extra inconsiderate. Let them know how you feel before it also starts to stress you out. If you think the interaction will be too awkward or confrontational face-to-face, send them a text or leave a note. Remember that you probably aren’t always the perfect housemate either, and cut them some slack at first. Try and avoid pranks or playing them at their own game, as it will probably fuel any agenda they already had and make you just as bad as them. If the problem persists, here are some ways to deal with them.

  • Go on strike.

If the housemate in question is the messy type, give them a taste of their own medicine. Stop cleaning up after them and let it pile up! Hopefully when they see how much mess they’re causing they will do something about it. It’s easy to ignore a couple of bowls of Coco Pops and dirty cups, but when it starts to become a mountain of crockery it needs more attention. Even if it drives you insane, try it for a few days!


  • Create a cleaning rota.

Nothing says passive aggression like a cleaning rota. It lets your housemate know you’re not happy with the level of cleaning they’re doing, and also highlights how much you do. If it’s in black and white that you’ve taken the bins out for the past four weeks, they can’t argue against it.


  • Contact the RSAs.

If you’re in halls, don’t be afraid to call the RSAs in for some help addressing and resolving the problem. They’re able to help you talk it out in a neutral and fair environment, and may be able to help you to come up with a solution.


  • Have a house meeting.

This is a good idea to discuss things and also take the opportunity to thank housemates for certain things they may do. If they’ve collected your post or accepted your shopping delivery say thanks and make sure it’s not all negative. Talk about bills and payments, and tackle some of the issues that are causing tension. There may be a side to the story that you haven’t considered, a little communication goes a long way!


You can contact the RSAs for your appropriate halls here: Residential Support