There are lots of great things about having a roommate – a built in Netflix buddy, someone to split household chores with, less spent on rent and utility bills. That’s probably why nearly 79 million U.S. adults are living with a roommate.

Regardless of whether your roommate is your dearest friend or someone you met on Craigslist, navigating life with a roommate can be tricky at times. There’s different schedules and lifestyles to deal with and, of course, fights over the proper thermostat setting.

To help you out, we’ve come up with a list of the most common roommate problems, along with advice on how to resolve roommate conflict.

Four Common Roommate Problems

1.    Keeping it Clean

Cleanliness can be a sensitive subject. Plus, it’s an easy topic to argue over since “cleanliness” can be a bit subjective. One person’s dish in the sink can be another person’s uncontrolled mess. It’s important to realize that not everyone has the same definition of what “a mess” looks like, and everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to how many dishes can be piled in the sink before washing them.

2.    Unexpected Guests

Maybe your roommate loves to entertain and is known for her awesome, impromptu potlucks. Or maybe you have a significant other and like for them to spend the night a couple of times a week. Whatever the case, unexpected guests or guests who outstay their welcome can be a major cause of tension in a shared space.

3.    Excessive Noise

Noisy neighbors can be a pain to deal with, but what do you do when your roommate is the one causing the problem? Even if you knew in advance that your roommate has dreams of becoming a jukebox hero, three consecutive hours of drumming practice can grate on anyone’s nerves. Maybe you’re an early riser with a heavy footfall and a tendency to slam doors at 6 a.m. In either case, finding a comfortable compromise on noise levels can be a struggle for roommates.

4.    Borrowed Items

When items go missing—whether it’s your carefully labeled yogurt or your roommate’s cherished jacket—tempers can flare, even if the item is recovered or replaced. No one likes to feel that their boundaries and their possessions have been disrespected.

How To Deal With Roommate Conflict

Find the right roommate

If you ask the right questions up front, you can get a pretty good idea of the areas in which you might be incompatible. If after all that pre-work and vetting there are still problems, it might be best for one of you to consider moving on. Don’t forget to be a good roommate yourself!


Many common roommate conflicts can be resolved by simply setting aside some time on a regular basis to have a calm conversation about the issues at hand. It could be that your roommate doesn’t see a problem with practicing the bassoon at midnight. Or, it could be that they’re retaliating in response to your significant other staying over five nights in a row. You’ll never know what’s on someone else’s mind until you talk it out.


You know that old adage about “picking your battles?” It’s true for roommate relationships, too. Decide on your roommate deal breakers, what are just simple annoyances to be overlooked, and what doesn’t even make it onto your radar. Once you’ve identified each other’s sticking points, establish rules and guidelines and put them in writing. Maybe you can agree to a set of “quiet hours” and your roommate can agree to wipe the toothpaste grime out of the sink after brushing.

Leave Common Roommate Problems Behind at Southern Management

At Southern Management, living with a roommate doesn’t need to be stressful. Our apartment communities and floor plans include plenty of space and amenities, so you won’t feel like you’re living on top of each other.

If, however, you are ready to move out on your own and want the perfect studio or one-bedroom, we can help with that, too.  With over 25,000 apartments across Maryland and Virginia, Southern Management offers beautiful spaces of all sizes.

Take a virtual tour of our communities and talk to a property manager today!