Everyone who’s been to uni or lived in a house share at any point will recognise this problem: a housemate’s partner staying over at your house more often than they stay at their own home.
While it may sound innocent enough, it can cause all manner of problems for the rest of the housemates, which we’ll dive into in this blog post.
Firstly, we’ll look at precisely why a housemate’s partner sleeping over all the time might create issues. Then we’ll look at what can be done to prevent the problems, and also what to do at the time if a housemate is pushing their luck with the frequency of their partner staying over.
Don’t worry; this can often be resolved simply and amicably if dealt with well.
Why might your housemate’s partner cause issues?
There are many reasons an extra (and unofficial) housemate may not suit you or your household. We’ve listed the most common reasons below.
You didn’t sign up for an extra housemate
Often, when deciding who to live with for the next academic year, people don’t expect the number of housemates to change during that year; they signed up with three roomies and assume it will stay that way.
Introverts, in particular, may not appreciate an extra person in the house.
They’re not paying their way
They spend most of the week in your house — using your electricity, gas, water and wifi — but don’t offer you anything towards the bills.
Meanwhile, you and your housemates are all paying your way — and essentially paying for them to live there, too.
They hog the bathroom
A common complaint in shared houses is that the boyfriend or girlfriend of a housemate spends ages in the bathroom — using water and electricity but also preventing everyone else from getting ready for their day at uni.
They are untidy
They don’t tidy up after themselves in communal areas, and neither does your housemate on their behalf. Perhaps they leave the bathroom in a state or cook food in your kitchen but leave the washing up in the sink for someone else to deal with. Not cool.
They eat food that’s not theirs
Sometimes, unwanted visitors feel it’s okay to help themselves to any food in the house — be it some cereal from the cupboard or some leftover pizza from the fridge. This is not OK.
They’re overly affectionate
If your housemate and their partner are constantly engaging in PDAs in communal areas of the house, then that could get old pretty fast. Likewise, if you have the room next to theirs are they’re unflinchingly vocal in the bedroom.
You don’t like them
Potentially a bigger problem than all of the above is: you may not like your housemate’s partner. They might not be very nice in general, or you might not gel with them as a person. Whatever your reasons, you are having to put up with someone you don’t enjoy spending time with.
What to do before you move into a house share
The best time to tackle this scenario is before you and your housemates move in together. When you sit down to discuss how you’ll split the rent, bills, food, cleaning and so on, it is also the perfect time to chat house guests and what the plan is regarding partners staying over.
While you may all be single when you move in together, the chances are that one or all of you will couple up during the year and will want your partner to stay over at some point.
During your meeting, make an agreement whereby a housemate’s partner can stay over for, for example, a maximum of three nights per week — as long as they are respectful of the house and all who live in it. Set this number based on your discussion and what is agreed upon.
If you feel it appropriate, agree that a partner who regularly stays for, for example, three nights per week is expected to contribute to the household bills. You may set this amount in advance (for example, £10 per week), or you may agree to accept any contribution as a sign of willingness and understanding.
It should go without saying, but it’s always worth mentioning — the partner should tidy up after themselves too, or, if not, the housemate should be willing to do it on their behalf.
It is worth putting this agreement in writing, to be referred back to if you later have an issue whereby, as an example, a housemate’s partner is staying over at your house six nights a week and not contributing.
What to do after you’ve moved into a house share
If you didn’t make an agreement regarding house guests before you moved in together, then you’ll only realise you should have done when it has already become an issue.
However, don’t fret — the situation should be able to be resolved with a simple conversation. Don’t be tempted to deal with it via text message or sticky notes!
If you are unhappy about a housemate’s girlfriend or boyfriend staying over frequently, think about why this is and then give some thought to how the issue can be resolved.
Is the house too small for an extra housemate? Would you be happier if they contributed to the bills? Do you just want them to spend less time in the shower in the morning?
Once you’ve thought it through, mention it to your fellow housemates to see how they feel about the situation.
Next, arrange a casual ‘house meeting’ to discuss it — either just you and the housemate, or all of you. Think about how you would feel in their shoes and plan the meeting accordingly.
Make sure your housemate doesn’t feel attacked at any point. Explain that you like their partner but, as they are staying over quite often, you would like to suggest a change or two to make it fair on everyone in the house.
If you’d prefer neutral ground, you could arrange for this meeting to take place over lunch in a cafe instead of in the house.
If your housemate feels angry or hurt following the meeting, give them some time to cool down and process things, and suggest that you chat again in a few days. Be sympathetic. Remind them that you value them as a housemate and friend, and wish to find a way for everyone to be happy — them included.
All being well, you will then all be able to move forward. If not, or changes are promised but not made, it is time to sit down together again and make it clear that the issue is a serious one.
What to do if it is your partner staying over
If it is you who has coupled up and has your partner over to stay, remember to be considerate to your fellow housemates at all times.
Before it becomes frequent, chat to your partner and discuss whether they are happy to contribute to the household bills if they start staying over regularly. If they are happy to do so, call a house meeting and talk it through with your housemates — they’ll thank you for it.
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