Things to Discuss With Your Flatmates Before Signing An Agreement

As we’ve discussed before, picking roommates needs extra care and consideration before you end up with a nightmarish home-sharing experience. When interviewing roommates, for example, there are points that all parties need to come completely clean about themselves to avoid falling out in the future. To avoid making your candidate flatmate feel like you’re interrogating them throughout the entire interview, we’ve highlighted some things to discuss with your flatmate in a nice way. Remember, everyone involved must be thorough and honest when discussing them.

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1. Hygiene and Cleaning Habits

First off, open up about your hygiene standards and how clean and tidy you’d like your apartment to be. Next, discuss cleaning habits and expectations. They can range anywhere from chore division (like laundry and mopping) to clutter in shared spaces. For example, which do you prefer: washing your dishes and cooking utensils right after use or letting them pile up in the sink for later? 

Tip: Gauging personal hygiene levels between different people can be very tricky. What’s gross in many peoples’ standards may not apply to others’. What you can do, however, is observe your candidate’s appearance. Do they look unkempt? Does their body odor bother you? If something is off (and more than just slightly), keep in mind to move on to other candidates.

2. Visitors

Another dealbreaker that may drastically affect your rooming experience is the presence of visitors. Talk openly about possible friends, family, or even romantic partners coming over to your house any given time of the week. You should also be upfront about having overnight visitors and how long you’d expect them to stay at a time. Another point to negotiate is gatherings and parties. Detail how many people would come, whether or not they all belong in the same group, and how often they’d be coming over.

This next one is minor but equally important to some. Carefully discuss how you expect interactions to go between your roommate and your visitor. For example, roommates should inform their housemate(s) to avoid barging inside their room when their romantic partners are around. Also, be clear if you’re not comfortable with the idea of seeing other people cuddling on your sofa. Whatever they may be, be sensitive to how your preferences may impact others.

Tip: It’s always a good idea to introduce your more frequent visitors to your candidate (albeit indirectly). Bring your romantic partner along if they’ll be a frequent plus one in your apartment.

flatmates women held a dog and a man

3. Pets

Speaking of plus-ones, the topics of pets should never be absent from the interview. You can write this point out if the property forbids keeping pets of any kind —but tenants can be crafty. Discuss whether or not you’ll be expecting any creatures, big or small, anywhere in the apartment. Some people may even not like having pets around.

Even if you never let your pet venture out of your room, you can’t keep all your pet supplies inside. Negotiate spaces where you can store your pet supplies or food away so they won’t clutter common areas.

women smoking

4. Smoking

Non-smokers don’t always feel bothered when friends and family members smoke around them, but they can be in for a nasty surprise when their roommates’ undisclosed smoking habits result in a living space that smells like cigarettes. No matter who starts it first, bring up smoking in your talk. Do you mind if your roommate smokes? If any of you smokes, which places are allowed for smoking and which ones must be completely smoke-free? 

Additionally, discuss how to deal with smoking potential visitors as well. Your romantic partner has no excuse smoking inside your room if your roommate’s made it clear they don’t allow it.

5. Dietary Restrictions

People have different types of food or drinks that they can’t consume, either for health or religious reasons. Some people are strict about what can go and can’t go into their fridge. If you’d rather have some food items away from the kitchen and dining area, tell your prospective roommate about it. 

While this seems like a form of respect for your roommate, it also saves you from moments of panic when either of you accidentally ingests a food item they shouldn’t have. People with severe peanut butter allergies, for example, can exhibit severe allergic reactions just by using a knife previously used for making a PB sandwich (even if it looks clean).

6. Reactions to Conflict

They say that drama is the spice of life, but not if it leaves your relationship (and apartment) in shambles. Be it just between you or involving a third party (like a difficult landlord or landlady), conflicts big and small need to be resolved if they begin to prove detrimental to your daily life.

For starters, ask what they liked or didn’t like from their previous roommate. When listening to their pet peeves, pay attention to word choices and how they frame the other party. Be wary of candidates who keep complaining about their roommate for vague reasons or playing victim without any self-evaluation. This part can be tricky especially if you’re not a very good judge of character but trust your gut instincts more and you’ll be fine.

Next, talk about previous problems they’ve encountered while rooming with other people. Let them talk about how they deal with it and let your judgment do the rest. Do you think they were acting passive-aggressively? Do you think you’d be able to handle their way of communicating problems? 

Decide whether or not their ways of resolving or reacting to conflicts are compatible with your own and avoid letting your apartment turn into a toxic environment.

Tip: If you’re still unsure, contact their references before or after the interview. They must be someone who knows them well and already know them for a year. All the better for you if you can get hold of their previous roommate or landlord/landlady.

If your candidate is a first-timer in sharing apartments, consider whether you’ll be fine acting as their guide. If you don’t think you have the patience, pass the candidate over for more experienced roommates.

Other dealbreakers may include various roommate pet peeves like a homebody, excessive alcohol consumption, or asking to cover their rent all the time. Talk them all out and be direct, but remember to respect your candidate the entire interview and appreciate their honesty when answering questions. Best of luck! We hope this list helps you!

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