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 them!
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 housemate 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.
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.
Tricky housemate types
The Spoilt Brat
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.
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 The Spoilt Brat
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 are perhaps just so used to not saving money on 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.
They're great at sorting any problems 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 extra-curricular, making you feel pathetic in comparison.
How to handle The Nagger
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 - try going along to a volunteering session with them to expand your CV. If you can teach yourself to appreciate their enthusiasm, you'll grow to love having them around - nags and all.
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 PS4 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 handle The Slob
It may sound harsh, but The 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 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!
The Party Animal
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 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 meat this week.
How to handle The Party Animal
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 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 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 best solution – sit them down and have a chat about what's going on.
The Drama Queen/King
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 more commonly known as the Post-it Note King/Queen.
How to handle The Drama Queen/King
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 up 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.
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 here everyday - and it's your soap they're using in the morning.
How to handle The Soppy Lover
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 that 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.
The Invisible (Wo)Man
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 handle The Invisible (Wo)Man
Just be thankful that he/she actually does 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, have a chat and point them in the direction of our guide to looking after your mental health at uni.
The Music Lover
We all love a banger (heck, you can even get paid for reviewing music). 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 delivery of a new pair of speakers could feel so much like death?
How to handle The Music Lover
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.
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 handle The Prankster
You could just prank them right back (here are some cheap pranks if you're stuck for ideas), 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.
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 check out our tips on finding the perfect student house and our guide to the pros and cons of living with friends.
The most important lesson you'll 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?