Tips for Living Together
Maintain open communication
Be open and honest about issues that you have with your roommate(s) as they come up. Address things when they are little. Do not let problems drag on without talking about them, because it will only allow the issue to escalate and create more tension.
Have weekly chats to make sure that everyone is on the same page. You want to be sure that household chores are being completed, bills are being paid, etc.
It is good to check in with roommates on a routine basis, because then it holds them and you accountable.
Set a rental agreement
A rental agreement exists so that guidelines are set up at the beginning of a lease. These guidelines lay out the responsibilities of each person in the living environment to ensure a living situation acceptable to each tenant. It is best if all roommates have signed and dated copies of the agreement to avoid problems.
Several topics can be included in a rental agreement including:
- household duties/cleaning,
- abandonment, and
- guest policies.
All of these topics are important to talk about up front in order to avoid future issues between tenants.
Respect each other and each other’s personal belongings
Don’t forget the golden rule. Treat your roommate like you want to be treated. You may not always like your roommate, but it’s important to remember to give him/her the respect that they deserve.
Don’t degrade or ridicule your roommate. Try to work out issues without resorting to anger and hostility.
Respect your roommate’s personal belongings. If you wouldn’t want him/her borrowing your clothes, eating your food, and using your laptop, give him/her the same courtesy.
Be open to difference
Remember that you and your roommate(s) likely come from different backgrounds. You were probably raised differently and may have different beliefs and values. It is important for you to respect one another’s beliefs and values, but yet, to embrace people who are different from you. College is a time to learn, grow, and have new experiences.
Know your rights
As a tenant, you have the right to feel safe, comfortable, and clean in your own living space. You also have the right to seek aid from staff in resolving conflict/issues after your own unsuccessful attempts.
Understand that you don’t have to be best friends with your roommate(s)
Sometimes roommates end up being best friends, but more often than not, they don’t. And that’s okay. It is important for you to understand that you don’t have to be best friends with the person or people that you live with. You just have to be able to respect each other enough to make it work.
Even if you are moving in with your best friend, understand that just because you’re good friends doesn’t mean that you will make good roommates. Some of the best friendships can turn into negative roommate relationships. Don’t set your expectations too high when moving in with your best friend. Remember to set ground rules and guidelines from the get go, just as you would with a stranger.
Hawkeye Housing Liaison
Brock Student Center