There are lots of great things about having a roommate — a built-in Netflix buddy, someone to split household chores with and 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 are different schedules and lifestyles to deal with and, of course, arguments 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 for how to resolve roommate conflict.

Five Common Roommate Conflicts

1. Keeping it Clean

Cleanliness is 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.

How to resolve: Have an open and honest discussion with your roommates about what cleanliness looks like for everyone, and try to find a happy medium. This means that some roommates may have to be okay with the occasional pile of mail left on the counter or dish in the sink, while others may have to add some cleaning tasks to their general routine. 

Consider making a list of tasks that need to get done each week and splitting them up evenly. You can rotate through tasks to make sure everyone’s taking on an equal amount of work. Be sure that everyone’s on board before implementing the chore chart. 

2. Unexpected Guests

Maybe your roommate loves to entertain and is known for their awesome, impromptu potlucks. Perhaps you have a significant other and like 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 roommate conflict.

How to resolve: As with many other roommate issues, this one is best solved with an open conversation. Discuss your boundaries around unexpected guests and try to come to a compromise – for example, ask that your roommate check in with you before committing to host a party or let a friend stay on the couch. If your roommate’s significant other is constantly around, ask to limit sleepovers to a certain number of times per week or contribute financially. 

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 had an interest in making music in your apartment, hours of band practice can quickly become grating. Maybe you’re an early riser with a heavy foot 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.

How to resolve: If you don’t already have a pair of noise-canceling headphones, consider investing in some to help you relax. Additionally, talk to your roommate about how the noise is affecting you and what your schedule is like. Ask them to be mindful of their noise when you’re around and enjoy louder activities when you’re out of the house. 

4. Borrowed Items

Whether it’s your carefully labeled yogurt or your roommate’s cherished jacket, tempers might flare when items go missing — even if they’re recovered or replaced. No one likes to feel that their boundaries have been disrespected, especially in their own home.

How to resolve: Start by keeping items that you don’t want to share in your room to avoid any confusion. If you do want to borrow something from your roommate, make sure to ask ahead of time and respect their decision. If your roommate has been borrowing items from you without asking, don’t be afraid to set some boundaries and kindly ask them not to do so in the future. 

5. Invasions of Privacy

It’s important to have some time to yourself while living with roommates. Unfortunately, everyone has their own preferences when it comes to socializing with roommates, which can lead to conflict. If your roommate frequently comes into your space without asking, you might start to feel overwhelmed or disrespected. 

How to resolve: This is one that can easily be solved with an open dialogue. Your roommate might not realize that their attention isn’t always welcome. Set some simple boundaries: for example, a closed bedroom door or headphones in can be an indication that you’re not interested in a conversation. 

How To Deal With Roommate Conflict

Respectful Communication

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.

Make Compromises

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

Learning how to deal with roommate conflict is tricky, but ultimately, it all comes down to communication and respect. 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 leasing professional today!