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Student Accommodation

How to deal with annoying housemates

When you're in uni halls and student houses, you'll discover all sorts of people you never knew existed. From the messy housemate to the spoilt brat, we'll show you how to deal with them.

angry woman and dirty dishes

Credit: Torwaistudio (left), Paul Michael Hughes (right) – Shutterstock

Your first few weeks in shared accommodation might pass by in a friendly, vodka-fuelled haze, but pretty soon you may end up realising that there are many different types of annoying housemates you never knew existed.

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 day, the cracks in the friendly house dynamic might slowly start to appear and the old "I hate my housemate" catchphrase may come out of the woodwork.

Worse still, there's not just one type of difficult housemate – they fall into several categories. While we'd never encourage stereotyping, labelling bad housemates in this way makes it much easier to work out how to handle them.

Being friends and living together are two very different things, and your relationship with someone may be more suited to one than the other. Keep this in mind if you're planning on moving in with your bestie.

How do you deal with bad housemates

Here are the most difficult housemates to live with at university and how to deal with them without losing your mind:

  1. The Spoilt Brat

    veruca salt in charlie and the chocolate factory

    Credit: Paramount Pictures

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

    They probably took a gap year 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 deal with The Spoilt Brat housemate

    Unfortunately, being super friendly and rational is the only thing that will work with people who aren't 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 there's a chance they're not used to saving money on energy bills because 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

    They're great at sorting any issues in the house, like fixing power cuts or tackling mouse-shaped problems.

    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 extracurricular, making you feel pathetic in comparison.

    How to deal with The Nagger housemate

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

    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. You can try going along to a volunteering session with them to enhance your CV. If you can teach yourself to appreciate their enthusiasm, you'll grow to love having them around – nags and all.

  3. The Dirty Slob

    marshal from how I met your mother sitting on the sofa in underwear

    Credit: CBS

    Their dishes are permanently 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.

    Why aren't they helping out? Well, they're too busy playing on their PS5 and scoffing last night's leftover kebab or watching Peep Show re-runs in bed at 4pm.

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

    How to deal with The Dirty Slob housemate

    It may sound harsh, but The Dirty Slob needs to be 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 constantly reminding The Dirty Slob that they aren't pulling their weight, so the most effective way to shake them into action is to make them aware of what they're doing.

    Making jokes in front of other flatmates (and even friends who dare to come over) about the smell of their room could work. But 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 excessive, but it's often the only way to keep the house clean and ensure everyone is doing their bit. Make sure you keep up your end of the bargain so that it can't backfire on you.

    If The Dirty Slob won't get their act together, just console yourself with the fact that your house isn't quite as bad as this one.
  4. The Party Animal

    When you need a crazy night out, this is the person to turn to. The only issue is that 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 you'll 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 because 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 this week.

    How to deal with The Party Animal housemate

    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 home the message that while they're slowly destroying their liver and rinsing their Maintenance 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 how their cheek has left you feeling shocked and appalled.

    Try not to ignore the phone calls too much, as they may actually need your help every once in a while. But should it start getting out of hand, communication is the best solution – sit them down and have a chat about what's going on.

  5. The Drama Queen/King

    Beyonce crying on the phone

    Credit: Columbia

    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. They pick fights for no reason, and you can't help but wonder whether they don't secretly enjoy it.

    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 more commonly known as the Post-it Note King/Queen.

    How to deal with The Drama Queen/King housemate

    This is a bit of a tricky one. While some people undeniably overreact to things, others may be going through a tough time and it's best to consider that before losing your cool with them.

    Try doing things to cheer them up or distract them, and see if it has any impact on their mood.

    With regards to the post-it notes, the key is to play them at their own game. Start a little chat on your own piece of paper, pointing out something selfish or gross that 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.

    We've uncovered the biggest student housing problems, plus what to do if you encounter any of them.
  6. The Soppy Lover

    You might like their other half, but that doesn't mean you want them living with you rent-free.

    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. They've got their own toothbrush and they shower at yours every day. And it's your soap they're using in the morning.

    Let's be honest, they might as well have their name on the tenancy agreement. At least if they did, you could start asking them to contribute to the bills.

    How to deal with The Soppy Lover housemate

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

    Be careful not to criticise the significant other, and 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 daily.

    If they argue that they're only hanging about in your house so much because going out is too expensive, point them in the direction of our list of low-cost dates.

    Otherwise, set a sleepover quota so you only have to endure the canoodling and baby voices every other night instead of every night. 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

    harry potter wearing the invisibility cloak

    Credit: Warner Bros

    Maybe it's a full-on timetable, a full-on significant other 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 deal with The Invisible (Wo)Man housemate

    Just be thankful that they actually do exist! In a busy student house, a ghostly flatmate can be a blessing in disguise. They pay their share of the rent yet never wake you up with loud music.

    On a serious note, take a moment to consider why they're not being more sociable. Are you and the rest of your flat being the best housemates that you can be, or are you committing some of the co-habitation crimes that we've listed here?

    Or are they struggling with their mental health? If you think they might be shutting themselves away because things are getting on top of them, reach out and have a chat. A problem shared is a problem halved.

    Making your room your own personal haven to escape to will make dealing with annoying housemates that bit easier.
  8. The Music Lover

    We all love a banger, but when it's 4am and you have a lecture in five hours, it's understandable that you're not so keen on having it blaring through the walls.

    Who knew that the delivery of a new pair of speakers could feel so much like death?

    How to deal with The Music Lover housemate

    The thing with The Music Lover is that they pretty much always want to listen to their tunes at maximum volume. However, chances are that 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

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

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

    How to deal with The Prankster housemate

    You could just prank them right back, but the chances are that 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.

Not having a nice place to live will make things even more difficult, so check out our tips on finding the perfect student house to make the transition as easy as possible.

Laura Brown

WRITTEN BY Laura Brown

Laura Brown, Head of Editorial at Save the Student, is an award-winning writer with expertise in student money. She project manages influential national student surveys and has presented findings to MPs in Westminster. As an expert on student issues, Laura has been quoted by the BBC, the Guardian, Metro and more.
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