Student Accommodation

9 tricky housemates and how to deal with them

When you're in uni halls and student houses, you'll discover all sorts of people you never knew existed. From the messy to the bossy, we'll show you how to handle 'em!

How to deal with tricky housemates

Your first few weeks in shared accommodation might disappear in a friendly, vodka-fuelled haze, but pretty soon you'll realise that there are so many levels of annoying housemate you didn't even know existed – and you're probably living with most of them.

As the dirty dishes pile up, opened cans of old tuna start appearing in the fridge and you run out of clean forks three times a daythe cracks in the friendly house dynamic slowly start to appear.

Nightmare housemates fall into several categories, and while we'd never encourage stereotyping, labelling tricky flatmates in this way makes it much easier to work out how to handle them.

Still getting used to the whole flat-sharing lark? Have a look at our concise guide to surviving shared living for more tips!

Tricky housemate types

  1. The spoilt brat

    How to deal with tricky housemates

    AKA: Veruca Salt, Gap Yah Kid IRL

    The Spoilt Brat is a common entity at uni, and if you live with one you'll sure as hell know about it.

    They probably took a 'gap yah' to explore their 'inner selves' (and love telling you about it incessantly). They have more designer gear than you can shake a stick at but are constantly moaning about having nothing to wear.

    They're also the only person in the house without a part-time job, and are constantly on the phone asking mummy and daddy for money.

    Money's no object to them, so it must be the same for you right? They'll run up your bills, steal your stuff and refuse to do the grotty (but necessary) tasks of domestic life.

    How to handle them

    It will take a bit more time and patience to initiate housemates like this into the social rules that the rest of us minions already abide by.

    Unfortunately, being super friendly and rational is the only thing that will work with people who're not used to being told what to do. Save the outbursts for situations where your patience has been thoroughly exhausted!

    Don't be embarrassed to explain (nicely, mind) to those who have a lot of cash that the rest of you just can't afford to leave the heating on 24/7. If they have any decency they'll understand, and are perhaps just so used to not caring about bills that they don't know any different.

    Make it clear that you have to work for your money and can't afford to waste it.

  2. The Nagger

    Tricky housemates

    AKA: The Bore, Do You Ever Do Anything Fun?, Parent Part II 

    They're great at sorting any problems you have at the house: if the power is cut off and nobody else can figure out why, or you have acquired a small mouse-shaped problem in the kitchen.

    However, you came to uni seeking independence, and sometimes naggers make you feel like you've moved out from under one parent's nose and straight under another.

    They disapprove of your antics, lecture you about your diet, and refuse to participate in any social frolics. Even more annoyingly, they're seriously extra-curricular, making you feel pathetic in comparison.

    How to handle them

    Be kind, because in reality The Nagger is full of good intentions, and they normally have a pretty big heart.

    Seriously, you need a sensible housemate to add some stability to your hangover-riddled life, and what would you do about the mouse problem if they weren't around to deal with it on everyone else's behalf?

    The trick to getting The Nagger off your back is to befriend them. Bond with them over human rights issues, go along to a volunteering session with them to expand your CV – teach yourself to appreciate their enthusiasm and you'll grow to love having them around, nags and all.

  3. The Slob

    How to deal with messy housematesCredit: Mike McCune – Flickr
    AKA: Lazy Bum, The Messy One

    Their dishes are consistently covered in mould (when you can manage to stop The Nagger from cleaning them, that is) and it would never occur to them to muck in with the clean-up after a party.

    They're too busy playing on their Xbox and scoffing last night's leftover kebab, or watching X Factor re-runs in bed at 4pm.

    The smell emitting from their bedroom is becoming overwhelming and they're also responsible for pretty much every stain on the carpet. Heaven only knows how the 'rents dealt with them back home.

    If you're still having trouble identifying a slob, check out our gallery of the worst offenders.

    How to handle them

    It may sound harsh, but The Slob needs alerted to the fact that they're a slob. The longer they live in this bubble of lazy grossness, the less likely they'll ever be able to pull themselves out of it, ever.

    No one wants to be issuing constant reminders to The Slob that they aren't pulling their weight, so the most effective way to shake them into shape is to embarrass them (if they are able to feel any shame, that is).

    Making jokes in front of other flatmates (and even friends who dare to come over) that their room smells like it's fermenting is a good way to get through to lazy bums.

    Failing that, a cleaning rota for everything that needs doing will ensure it becomes obvious who isn't doing their bit.

    This may seem a bit anal but it's often the only way to keep the house clean, even if only for one day! Make sure you keep up your end of the bargain so that it can't backfire on you… and it's at this point that you realise maybe you're The Nagger?

  4. The Party Animal

    How to deal with tricky housemates

    AKA: The Wild Child, The Mess

    When you need a crazy night out, this is your guy/girl, but they always seem to take things too far. You pass them in the hallway the morning after, half naked with toilet roll trailing from the bathroom, or find them asleep under the kitchen table because they couldn't quite make it up the stairs to bed.

    They make the house smell of stale smoke and you're constantly being woken up to let them in at 4am, cause they've lost their keys and need money to pay the taxi driver.

    The Party Animal's lifestyle leaves them perpetually without funds, and you find yourself buying them drinks when you can't even afford to eat meat this week.

    How to handle them

    Try being annoyingly chipper when they're lying on the sofa with a rotten hangover. Turn the lights on and hoover under their feet to really hammer the message into their boozy head that while they're slowly destroying their liver and rinsing their student loan, the rest of you are getting on with your lives.

    When you see they're heading out to a club after making excuses for not being able to pay the bills, don't hide your incredulity at their cheek.

    Start ignoring the pleading phone calls – if they don't have anyone to bail them out of tricky situations so often, they might be put off getting themselves into them in the first place.

  5. The Drama Queen/King

    dramaqueen

    AKA: Why is this even a big deal?

    Everyone is scared of the dramatic flatmate due to their terrifying mood swings. They fly into a rage at the slightest thing, like someone using the last of the milk or borrowing their frying pan and not cleaning it before they sit down to eat dinner.

    You often find yourself being enlisted as their shoulder to cry on or moan at, but funnily enough, they never seem interested in listening to your problems when you're in need.

    The Drama King/Queen also tends to double up as the infamous passive aggressive flatmate also known as the Post-it Note King/Queen.

    How to handle them

    Remain calm! The Dramatic flatmate thrives off raised voices and tension. Make it clear that you aren't going to put up with their childish dramas any longer.

    Instead of feigning sympathy, laugh off their woes and start talking about something that really matters.

    Useful quote: "Bloody hell [insert name here], do you ever run out of things to moan about?" They'll soon get the message. You shouldn't have to tiptoe around someone in your own house.

    With regards to the post-it notes, the key is to play them at their own game – start up a little chat on your own piece of paper pointing out something selfish or gross they've done in the house recently too (there are normally lots to choose from). Once they've gotten over the rage at your reply, they'll probably bin both notes and forget that tactic next time.

  6. The Soppy Lover

    How to deal with tricky housemate

    AKA: [Insert soppy pet name here], The Stomach-Turner

    You might like their other half, but that doesn't mean you signed up to paying for them to live with you. You have to lie in bed listening to them talk to each other in stomach-churning baby voices; you get up in the morning and they're in your kitchen eating your cereal with your milk.

    Lets be honest, they might as well live with you, as at least then you could start asking them to contribute to bills. They've got their own toothbrush and they shower here everyday – and it's your soap they're using in the morning.

    How to handle them

    It might be difficult to speak up as they're your housemate's other half and they're obviously happy, but the bottom line is the rest of you never signed up to live with them.

    Be careful not to criticise the significant other, but just make it clear to your flatmate that if things continue the way they are, they should contribute their fair share – whether that's in bills, milk or helping to clean the shower that they use together daily.

    If their rationale for hanging around your place so much is that going out is too expensive, point them in the direction of our list of low-cost dates.

    Otherwise, set a sleepover quota so it becomes every other night instead of every night that you have to endure the canoodling and baby voices. Make sure you get the backing of your other flatmates before you say anything, though. Otherwise it might look more personal than you intend it to be.

  7. The Invisible (Wo)Man

    Tricky housemates

    AKA: Whats-His-Name, The Ghost

    Maybe it's a full-on timetable, a full-on other half or perhaps they just go home every weekend. Either way, you haven't seen The Invisible (Wo)Man since the day you moved in, and now you're starting to think you imagined them.

    You think you heard a thud from their room one night, but you can't be sure…

    How to handle them

    Just be thankful that he/she actually does exist! In a busy student house, a ghostly flatmate is truly a blessing in disguise. They pay their share of the rent yet never wake you up with loud music.

    And you could always turn their room in to an at-home brewery…ok, maybe not.

  8. The Music Lover

    How to deal with loud housemates

    AKA: The Cool Guy/Girl, The One With Broken Eardrums

    We all love music (heck, you can even get paid for reviewing it), but when it's 4am and you have a lecture in five hours, it's understandable that you're not so keen at this moment in time.

    Who knew that delivery of a new pair of speakers could seem so much like a death knell?

    How to handle them

    The thing with The Music Lover is that they pretty much always want to listen to their tunes LOUD. However, chances are they don't even realise how much it infuriates you or that your schedule is so vastly different to theirs.

    If you don't want to tell them outright (which probably wouldn't be as bad as you think, by the way), just make it clear to them when you've got stuff to get up for in the morning. A loud "I'm going to bed now" can work wonders!

    As a last resort, a surprise gift of some headphones (courtesy of a flatmate whip-round) is probably worth the expense. Whatever you do, don't turn this into an argument, otherwise you'll never get a peaceful night's sleep again.

  9. The Prankster

    dealing with tricky flatmates

    AKA: Not-so-funnyman, The Troublemaker

    Waking up to find your door handle has been removed is hilarious the first three times, but by the time you've been pranked for the 12 millionth time, the laughs start to wear off.

    To make matters worse, The Prankster will continually think their jokes are hilarious, even if you're on the verge of tears.

    How to handle them

    You could just prank them right back (here are some cheap pranks if you're stuck for ideas), but the chances are this will spiral wildly out of control into a prank war of unseen proportions.

    In reality, it's probably better to just stop laughing at their rubbish jokes and pranks. A lot of the time, if they don't get a smile or a laugh, they'll get bored and take their pranks elsewhere.

You'll quickly learn that being friends and living together are two entirely different things, and your relationship with someone may be more suited to one than the other.

That's why it's pretty important to choose your housemates wisely if you can, as you will become privy to their every flaw. Poor living conditions won't help either, so read our expert guide to finding the perfect student house.

The most important lesson you learn when you share a living space is the necessity of compromise, to have a little courtesy for others, and finally: what you are prepared to put up with from other people (and what you aren't).

Now the only question is… which housemate are you?

Let us know in the comments below if you've discovered a new species of flatmate we haven't covered!

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