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Dealing with Roommates: Making It Work with a Hard-to-Handle Roomie

July 28, 2012 | Apartment Lifestyle, Roomie Relations

As college students prepare to return to cozy, shared dorms and not-so-spacious apartments in August, has some cohabitating tips to minimize stress for renting roomies that just might be the key to success. surveyed renters about their worst roommate ever to better understand what renters look for in a co-tenant and discover what pet peeves drive them to the edge. The must-do for roomies who can’t seem to get along—set aside their differences and clean! Here are some tips for dealing with roommates.

Clean Up Your Act

According to the survey, about half of respondents (45 percent) admitted to having particular pet peeves with a current or past roommate, and the largest group (20 percent) said the problem resides in cleanliness, or lack thereof. While a messy roommate was the most popular grievance, other pet peeves include a roommate who doesn’t pay bills on time (10 percent) and a roomie who uses things without asking (nine percent). Following closely behind in roommate complaints, no one enjoys a roomie who constantly has visitors—especially a live-in significant other—which six percent of respondents selected as their primary peeve.

Make Up Before You Break Up

Finding the right roommate is almost like realizing you are in a perfect relationship. Everything just fits. However, some relationships aren’t meant to be and suffer from lack of communication, pent up frustration or selfishness; and, likewise, many roommate relationships fall victim to the same cohabitating vices. Yet, there is hope! has a few reliable roomie tips that could hold the key to making up before you break up.

  • Make it Known: Don’t skirt the issue when it comes to describing your day-to-day activities. Before you sign your apartment lease, it’s important for your roommate to understand your schedule to avoid conflicts later. If you are an “early to bed, early to rise” kind of person, a roommate who works on mixing his DJ tracks at night may not be your best bet, no matter what kind of parties you could get into.
  • Talk It Out: Working to communicate your needs and expectations to one another is crucial for a happy roommate relationship. For example, if your roommate is a student and wants to use the kitchen table to study, decide not to watch TV loudly in the same room during study hours. Likewise, if you’re hosting a small Bachelorette season finale party at your apartment, give your roommate fair warning to make other plans.
  • Give a Little: As the adage goes, “Sometimes you have to give a little to get a little.” This saying is spot on when it comes to cohabitating. By speaking with your roommate about both of your priorities and interests, you can find the greatest common ground and meet somewhere in the middle. Giving a little on both sides shows mutual respect, which makes for an ideal living situation.
  • R-E-S-P-E-C-T: One secret to roommate success is creating boundaries between public and private space. Bedrooms should generally remain off limits to the other roommate, and personal items should not be borrowed without permission. Make sure to talk with your roommate about what is meaningful to you and set clear boundaries together.
  • Clean Up Your Act: As indicated by’s survey, keeping clean is a must. While some people are naturally tidier than others, it’s important to divide cleaning responsibilities so the burden is shared. Be sure to discuss expectations for cleaning before you sign on the dotted line. Talk about who will clean what and how often, and what’s acceptable in terms of daily and weekly up-keep.
  • Bills, Bills, Bills: Make sure you decide on when and how bills and rent will be paid for before making the roommate bond permanent. For instance, if one person is in charge of utilities, make the other in charge of submitting the rent check each month. Designating bills as a shared responsibility helps foster timeliness when it comes to deadlines.

On the Lookout

Once you’ve found a compatible roommate and you are ready to start your apartment search, visit, which makes apartment-hunting as quick and easy as possible. helps renters find the home of their dreams and rewards them with a $100 prepaid Visa® debit card if they locate a place on, tell their new landlord they found their apartment on, and report to that they signed a lease with a property that participates in the $100 Reward Program.

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted among 516 U.S. renters. The interviews were conducted online by RedShift Research between January 10th and 11th, 2012 using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas were set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total populations aged 18 and older. The margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level is, plus or minus, 4.3 percentage points.

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