Flat-sharing: How to lay down some ground rules

21 Sep 2018
By Jeneill C., Student at Leeds Beckett University

Whether you’re sharing a house or flat, if you’re about to move in to new accommodation you’re probably hoping everything will run smoothly. And, with the right approach, there’s no reason why it won’t.

It’s important that everyone knows where they stand.

Here are some tips for avoiding conflict and things to consider if the atmosphere does get tense.

Assign the storage space

When it comes to storage, spend time deciding amongst yourselves what cupboard or fridge shelf belongs to each person. This should be done as evenly and fairly as possible.

If, after some time, you realise you need more space than someone else in the flat, ask them nicely if you can use a bit of their space rather than just going ahead and stealing it.

Get a grocery plan

Everyone is different when it comes to sharing food - some like to, others don’t. So it’s important that everyone knows where they stand.

Consider whether you will buy your food separately or as a flat. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each option.

The latter, while potentially cost effective, can be problematic as grocery needs are different for each person and the amount of food used by each individual will differ too.

If you choose to buy separate groceries, it wouldn’t hurt to showcase your culinary skills and provide a meal for flatmates every once in a while - or when finances permit.

Budget for your bills

Everyone needs to do their part to ensure that bills are paid on time, especially if utilities are not included in your rent. This collective effort may be made easier if everyone puts aside the money at the beginning of each month or quarter.

Have an honest conversation soon after everyone has settled and gets to know each other. In this conversation, talk about efficient ways of conserving energy and water.

Issues generally arise when one person opts to collect everyone else’s money. The unpredictable nature of some may lead to that person being out of pocket quite frequently. Instead, consider a joint account with standing orders in place.

Create a cleaning rota

Ensure that you and your housemates are on the same page when it comes to maintaining a clean flat - this is a sure-fire way to reduce the potential for conflict.

Create cleaning rotas together for the communal areas and put rules in place for washing dishes - whether that be directly after cooking or eating or within a certain time period. Leaving it up to each individual may see communal areas in undesirable conditions for a week or more!

Read more: Cleaning: Pro tips from our housekeeping team

Know when noise is okay

It should go without saying that, when sharing a space, consideration is due and noise should be kept at tolerable levels.

But having guests and playing your music when you want to are some of the pleasures of being away from home. So, make it clear to everyone when the appropriate times to do that are.

3 Easy ways to diffuse a disagreement

1. Communicate. Communication in any relationship is key, and that goes for the relationships with your flatmates too. If you can’t do your flat duties one week, make sure you arrange to switch with someone.

2. Be understanding. University is a huge adjustment period for many, so approach issues delicately. You never know what your flatmates have on their minds, and personal worries might affect their behaviour around the flat.

3. Have a group chat. Besides building a great rapport, a group chat can be a great way of communicating quickly when issues arise. This should be a plan B though, handling issues in person is always recommended.

It’s important that everyone knows where they stand.
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Jeneill is in the final year of her Architecture MA at Leeds Beckett University.