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How to Handle Troublesome Roommate Problems
| by Pauline Flores

Roommates are like a box of chocolate… I think you can see where I’m going here. You’ll never completely know what you’ll get when you room with a random person. Even if you decide to live with your best friend, you might encounter unpleasant surprises. Here is some advice on how to handle roommate problems.

Set Expectations

Right when you start living with someone, have a thorough conversation about ground rules. If you live in a dorm, this advice is especially crucial since you’ll be sharing such a small space with someone. Here are questions to talk about during your conversation:

What if I want to bring a boyfriend/girlfriend over?

Who is in charge of what chore?

How often will each of us take out the trash and/or do the dishes?

What time do we each wake up/go to bed?

What are the expectations with drugs and alcohol?

Be Direct

When a problem arises, people tend to bottle up their emotions until it’s too late. The pressure builds until, eventually, they explode. Don’t try to brush off anything that your roommate does that bothers you. Be direct and tackle the problem head-on. Have a talk with your roommate, but try to be understanding and diplomatic. If you confront them condescendingly, then they won’t listen to what you say.


Don’t be demanding when your roommate does something wrong, but don’t be stubborn if your roommate accuses you of doing something wrong too. When a conflict is too heated for one side to get what they want, try to compromise. You’re both adults now, so a compromise is a perfectly fine way to handle conflict resolution.

Ask for Third Party Help 

For roommates living in dorms, RA’s could be your third party. If not, then maybe the third party could be a mutual friend between you too or even another roommate. Get the third party’s perspective on the problem. Having an objective viewpoint would be a fair way to solve the conflict.

Move Out

It’s rare that a roommate conflicts escalates to this level, but it happens. If your roommate is too unbearable, then you always have the option to move out. Most apartment leases must be renewed every year or nine months, so you could stick it out until the end of your lease.

If this is not an option for you, make sure to let your roommate know in advance that you will be moving out. No matter how much you hated them, it’s not very fair to leave them without a roommate to help pay rent.


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