How to Deal with Roommate Problems

Having a roommate is a smart financial move. It allows you to afford a decent apartment and save some money by splitting the living expenses in half. A lot of roommates are friends from college who decide to extend dorm life out in the real world. You could also find a roommate through a roommate service. Whether your roommate is someone you know or a total stranger, the hope is that you will live in perfect harmony. Of course, there can be the occasional problem. Will you know how to deal with your roommate issues?


It would be nice if your roommate held the same standards of cleanliness as you do. Technically, you can’t tell them to clean up their room as if they were a teenager. After all, they are paying for that private space and as long as they’re not causing damage, they can keep it as messy as they want to. What about the common areas like the kitchen, bathroom or living room? If you have a roommate who leaves a trail of mess in those areas, then it can become a very frustrating situation. It will help if you set some cleaning boundaries before they move in. The basic rule should be, “if you make a mess, then you clean the mess immediately.”

Outside of that rule, you might designate a cleaning day where you both share in the chores of cleaning the apartment together. The option of last resort would be to share in the expenses of hiring a housecleaner. That will certainly get the job done.

Splitting Costs

The whole reason for having a roommate is to split the costs. Sometimes one person becomes the “bill collector.” That means they are in charge of paying for things like utilities, cable and internet. If you agree to split the cost with your roommate, then you can both set up Venmo accounts that makes the transfer of money easy. At the beginning, you could ask, “Would it help if I write out what is owed?” That way there shouldn’t be any question of how much to pay and when to pay it.

The Extended Guest

Sometimes a roommate will have overnight guests. Again, that is totally allowed. However, your lease might put a limit on those guests. It might not be enforced by the landlord but it can be the fallback position you use if the guest is spending a lot more nights than just the occasional weekend. This becomes an issue of tolerance. If you’re not bothered by the guest, then it shouldn’t be a problem provided they kick in for food expenses and do some cleaning. However, if it feels like your privacy is being compromised, then you need to have a discussion around the issue of you not signing up for a third roommate.

Of all the potential roommate problems, the extended guest is the most problematic to deal with because you might essentially be saying that you roommate has to choose between their guest and the living arrangement. Of course, kicking extra money might soothe those feelings.