Housemate ground rules

Living with other people can be a nightmare sometimes – especially when it comes to cleaning and noise. Here’s how to set some housemate ground rules, so you’re not stuck swearing under your breath while scrubbing their skid marks.

dirty washing up

And breathe...


Issue 1: Cleaning and tidying

Whether you’re working full time, studying or working from home, living with more than one person can lead to a build up of bathroom mildew, dirty dishes and criminally huge dust balls.

Ground rule 1: If you make a mess, clean it up.

It sounds simple but it’s a rule that’s easily ignored. That means no dirty undies on the floor after showering too. Also try and set up a cleaning rota to ensure the house gets a deep-clean at least once a week. This stops the place turning into a cesspit, without taking up too much of your time.

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Issue 2: Bad habits

We’ve all got them. Picking your toenails and leavings piles of them on the floor. Shaving your beard all over the sink. Blasting music early in the morning. Whatever your vice is, chances are it’s going to annoy someone.

Ground rule 2: Before you move in, stop and think about what your dirty habits are. Imagine if the tables were turned. If you would feel revolted at the idea of someone doing that near you then don’t do it yourself.

If your housemates filthy habit is really getting your back up, simply sit down and talk to them about it. It’s much easier to get it sorted rather than seething in silence whenever they leave their hair in the plughole. Chances are they didn’t even realise what they were doing and the impact it was having.

Issue 3: Social interactions

This one can be a deal breaker. If one of you is partial to late night weeknight drinking sessions, it can become hell within four walls. On the other hand, constantly tiptoeing around noise-obsessed housemates can be a pain.

Ground rule 3: Establish a weeknight curfew you all agree on.

Weekends are more fair-game, unless one of you works shiftwork. This issue is all about respect and communication and it’s good to determine a curfew before moving in. It’s much easier to not move into a house full of dubstep lovers than try and control their volume one you’ve signed a rental agreement with them.

Issue 4: Food

Nothing is more annoying than coming home to find your housemate has eaten your leftover Chinese. That said, we all hate housemates who lock themselves in their room with their biscuit tin so they don’t have to share. After all, sharing is caring.

Ground rule 4: Make a list of food you’re all happy to share, as well as a change pot.

If each of you chip in a pound per week, that should be enough for the essentials such as milk, butter, teabags etc. Take turns each week buying what is needed. Then assume the rest of the food is out of bounds. This should hopefully help avoid the dreaded game of passive-aggressive post it notes.

Issue 5: Household goods

A similar issue to food – who’s turn is it to buy the loo roll? Without any ground rules, martyr-like behaviour towards buying washing-up liquid, bin bags and other essential household products can escalate into hellish situations.

Ground rule 5: Make a household goods change pot.

Each chip in another pound per week, next to a sheet of paper and pen on the fridge. When something runs out, dip into the change pot and make a note of it on the paper. You’ll have a lot of change pots when you’re done with this article but it’ll be worth it.

So, is that everything then?

These rules are just a starting point. You can change and adapt them according to your own personal needs. The key skill for getting along with housemates is communication, and hopefully the above should start off some conversations. Talk openly and establish the rules before or when you move in and it should result in a peaceful household.

You can find out more about shared housing on Shelter Scotland’s blog, here.

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By Daisy Phillipson

Updated on 09-Nov-2015

Photo by Shutterstock