overnight guests

Dealing with Your Roommate’s Overnight Guests

When you’re finally off on your own you want independence but might not make enough money to afford the neighborhood you truly want — without a roomie. Problem is, even though you signed a lease with one person, you sometimes wind up with more than that in the form of the occasional (or frequent) overnight guest.

Having a roommate isn’t a negative in and of itself. In fact, it can be a positive in the sense you get to significantly lower your cost of living and have a built-in buddy. But living with another person, or multiple people, can be a daunting task when you realize all of the different habits (not all of them good) that people have. It’s even worse when boyfriends and girlfriends are involved.

roommates in bed

How often should a roommate have an overnight guest?

At times, living with a roommate who’s in a relationship can feel like you’re living with a couple, which is probably not what you signed up for. The extra noise, dishes, remote-control battles and various debris can prove extremely annoying.

But there are ways to prevent awkward situations from arising, and tactics to keep in mind if problems surface. Simply put, when a roommate has guests over all the time, they need to abide by proper etiquette, so they don’t step on your toes and cause uncomfortable situations and even worse, festering resentment.

Below are a few helpful tips to make sure you and your roommate have the best living experience possible, especially related to overnight guests.

Speak up about roommate problems

The idea that honesty is the best policy is true. You’ll be much happier if you’re honest with your roommates about your needs and concerns. If you find that you can’t stand having an unwelcome guest spending days on end at your place, speak up! Your roommate problems won’t go away if the other parties aren’t aware there’s an issue, and since they probably aren’t mind-readers you’ll need to say something.

Of course, you should be wise in approaching the conversation. Here’s one way the chat could go:

1. Opt for one-on-one

Don’t barge into the room and demand that the guest leave. Find a time when it’s just the two of you to bring up the issue.

2. Lay out your concerns

Calmly start with a line like, “Hey, your boyfriend has been here a few days now and while I like him, the situation is becoming inconvenient for me. I’d really like it if he left soon.” Be prepared with a mental list of reasons why the guest has caused distress, whether on purpose or by unknowingly.

3. Stand strong

Be open to questions and prepare for your roommate to get defensive. As long as you stay level-headed, non-accusatory and reasonable in the situation, you’ll carry no fault. That’s not to say you should turn into a noodle — be assertive and hold your ground, just don’t be a jerk about it!

Establish rules for overnight guests

A lot of overnight guest problems can be avoided by establishing ground rules upfront. If you have the foresight to do this, good for you! Otherwise, it should be tackled from the back end if it’s becoming a problem. Of course, this means that you have to abide by the rules, too, when and if it becomes necessary. No one likes a hypocrite!

Whatever you do, don’t let the tension build! Let your roommate know why it’s important to practice proper guest etiquette by establishing simple rules in your roommate agreement.

1. Determine guest frequency

There’s no hard and fast rule about how often a roommate should have a guest. It’s really dependent on what your needs are, and how often you’re willing to put up with an extra human in your space. Perhaps weekends are fine, but you prefer not to have a disturbance on work or school nights. Or maybe one weeknight and weekends are acceptable. Make sure to establish frequency expectations that you’re comfortable with.


2. Utility impact

Frequent guests become a strain on utilities. If you and your roommate split the utilities 50/50, let her know that their frequent guests have negatively impacted your finances, as you have to pay more for electricity, gas, etc. that you didn’t even use.

Verbalize your dissatisfaction and ensure that guests who stay frequently contribute in some fashion. If possible, refer to previous billing cycles that did not include overnight guests and compare them to current invoices to illustrate the impact.

3. Common area use

It can be bad enough to have to share the apartment with one other person, but random house guests definitely cut into your morning routine, leaving you without vital things like hot water and coffee. It’s OK once or twice, but when you routinely show up to work late and drowsy, you may start to reconsider the whole roommate thing. Make it a point to have an agreement in writing about the use of common areas and items therein.

4. Cleanliness expectations

Hopefully, any houseguest has manners enough to pick up after themselves. But if they don’t, let your roomie know that they’re responsible for taking care of the mess in a timely fashion. Establish an acceptable time frame upfront, so there’s no confusion.

5. Handling bad habits

A lot of people don’t want someone smoking, vaping or using drugs in their home, but that doesn’t mean someone won’t try. Lay out exactly what’s acceptable to you and what isn’t, because this is pretty important territory. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for laying down the law.


6. Parking problems

If your rental property has limited parking, you may find yourself battling over spaces more than you’d like. That’s compounded when your roommate has over unannounced guests. Make sure your roommate knows that guests should park in the guest spots and not take the space of the actual tenants.

7. Noise no-nos

Loud music, late-night chatter, blaring TVs and the sounds of, um, “love” can significantly disturb your peace. Lay out the ground rules for excessive noise so that you (and your neighbors) can enjoy the peace and quiet to which you’re entitled. Consider the time of day/night and decibel levels when establishing your particular guidelines.

Whatever you do, don’t be vague about any of these issues. That will only lead to more questions, or worse, your roommate won’t fully understand what you deem acceptable and you’ll get resentful all over again.

Find a compromise

The danger of confronting your roommate about overnight guests is that the situation could get complicated. Uncomfortable conversations often don’t go as smoothly as you would hope, so be ready to handle some bumps in the road as you establish the new normal.

Furthermore, let your roommate know that you don’t necessarily dislike the guest (as long as it’s true), you just didn’t sign the lease with this person. Don’t let your home life get out of hand. Stand up for yourself and make clear there’s proper etiquette involved with overnight guests.


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