Back to Blog Home

5 Common Roommate Problems And How To Deal With Them

catherinemurphy profile picture
Kate MurphyGuest Blogger
September 18, 2016 · 1.4k Views


Roommate problems. Whether you are a college freshman sharing a dorm room or in your late 30s living in a 2-bedroom apartment, they can happen. Perhaps your personalities don’t mesh, or you have different views on finances or how to maintain the communal space. Whatever the issue is, it can lead to conflict and a difficult living situation. Here are ways to resolve 5 common roommate problems you may be experiencing.


1. The messy roommate


One of the reasons you chose Jill as roommate was because you were certain that she shared your same standards of cleanliness. Well, it’s been a month since Jill moved in and you’ve come to find that she is messy. Rather than acting like “no big deal” while fuming on the inside, talk to her about it.

How to handle the problem:

  • Be honest about exactly what is bothering you. Tell her your frustrations regarding her messiness in the shared living space. She can’t read your mind. If you are fed up with a sink of dirty dishes or stained kitchen counters, say so. Work at reaching a compromise that both of you are comfortable with.

  • Don’t accuse. Telling her that she is a disgusting pig will only lead to hurt feelings and defensiveness.

  • Propose solutions. As you point out things that are bothersome, follow up by proposing solutions. For example, “I know you are really busy and I don’t expect you to always clean the dishes after using them. But if they could be washed by the next day, that would be great.”

 SEE MORE: 5 Must-Haves Ever New Apartment Needs & Where You Can Get Them for Cheap

2. Problems over paying the bills and other expenses


Managing money is never a comfortable topic to discuss with roommates.

How to handle the problem:

  • It is best to establish how bills such as gas, electric, and Internet will be paid at the start and put your agreements in writing.

  • You’ll also want to talk about how to handle paying for household items like dish soap, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.

  • However, you’ll want to avoid sharing the cost of groceries and furniture.

 SEE MORE: 21 Useful Ways to Organize a Small Kitchen

3. Visitors and the boyfriend/girlfriend rule


A big roommate issue is conflicting views on having visitors and significant others staying overnight.

How to handle the problem:

  • If you spend a lot of time in the shared space, but your new roommate is always having friends over, it is going to impact how you feel in your own home. One solution is to designate certain evenings for having people over. You can plan to stay in your room or go out during these times.

  • If you or your roommate has a partner, be sure to talk about the expectations of that person staying over night. Otherwise you could end up with a roommate who doesn’t pay the rent.

  • Remember that the visitor and boyfriend/girlfriend rules should be applied equally to the both of you.

 SEE MORE: 15 Surprising Things Your Dishwasher Can Cook & Clean for You

4. The roommate who doesn’t pay rent on time


Sharing an apartment means that the both of you are responsible for getting money to your landlord on time. Having a roommate that flakes on rent money each month is not only a huge stressor, but could lead to the BOTH OF YOU being evicted.

How to handle the problem:

  • Before moving in together, put everything in writing. A written agreement should outline:

    • The date rent must be paid each month

    • Late fees for paying rent late (late fees are usually stated in the lease agreement)

    • Consequences for not paying rent on time

    • A traceable method of payment

  • Keep open communication with your roommate – they may simply be forgetting that rent is due.

  • Let them know the financial stresses you have when they pay rent late.

  • Remind them that if you are evicted, it will affect your ability to rent in the future.

  • If they continue being late on payment, and you are in a position to call the shots regarding who lives with you, tell them that they have to move out.

  • In the worst-case scenario, you may have to sue for late fees and back rent.


5. Pets and parties


When it comes to the issues of pets and parties, roommates often have varying views.

How to handle the problem:

  • Begin by establishing if the both of you are cool with having a pet. Remember, they are a big responsibility and can make a huge mess.

  • If your roommate comes into the apartment already owning a pet, talk about how it will be taken care of while they are gone. Do you want to deal with feeding and taking a dog for walks?

  • Talk about whether or not parties will be thrown in the shared space. Be open about the type of party (dinner party vs. raging kegger) and how the both of you feel about drinking and smoking in the apartment.


A conflict with your roommate is bound to happen at some point. By taking preemptive measures and maintaining open communication, you can deal with problems head on before they erupt into a toxic living environment.


catherinemurphy profile picture
Kate Murphy is a native of Pennsylvania. After receiving a degree in art history, she moved to New York City to test the waters. She enjoys writing about art, culture, fashion, design, and travel. In addition to writing, Kate works with artists, leads, street art tours, and moonlights as an illustrator.

Related Posts