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How to Deal With Bad Roommates

Updated on June 24, 2012

Have you ever had a downright terrible roommate?

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"You flooded the kitchen!?"

"I'm sorry, but you can't eat my food."

"You set the dryer on fire?!"

"No, I'm serious. You can't have my food."

"How many people have you invited to live with you?!"

"Touch my food again, and I'll bludgeon you."

If anyone knows what bad roommates are like, it's me. Everything listed above was something I had to say, and each phrase was accompanied with a growing mix of exasperation, anger and frustration. My freshman roommates had been awesome and I was good friends with them when they went home for the summer. Then, I moved into an apartment and was exposed to the dark world of bad roommates.

So how do you deal with people who lack manners, sense and even morals? Sometimes, it's impossible and you may need to move. But for times when you just have to sit it out, you'll need some handy tools to cope. I wish you all the luck!

If there's one thing you should take from this article, it's that passive aggressive notes will only make a bad situation worse. Source: Shanna11
If there's one thing you should take from this article, it's that passive aggressive notes will only make a bad situation worse. Source: Shanna11

Communication With Roommates

As hard as it can be sometimes, as cliched as it may sound and as repetitive as it is, this handy piece of advice can really be the fine line between avoiding your apartment or home at all costs, and co-existing peacefully with difficult people.

You need to communicate! Your roommate is not a mind reader; they don't know what you dislike, what irritates the snot out of you and what you absolutely loathe. If they're doing something inappropriate, wrong or illegal and you're unhappy or uncomfortable with it, let them know. My roommates were once all from Mexico City and never spoke English in the apartment, and even I (French minor that I am) managed to communicate with them.

Have meetings with your roommates if needed and NEVER leave passive-aggressive notes unless you have an insatiable urge to be an obnoxiously bad roommate yourself. If you've spoken already with a roommate on a particular subject (say the dishes), then feel free to leave a note or two reminding them of your agreement or discussion, but leaving a note without a previous conversation makes you look like an antisocial prick.

Go to Management

Sometimes, communication fails. One of my roommates was a kleptomaniac. She moved into the apartment with nothing of her own. This meant that she used my hygiene products without permission (often wastefully), cooked and ate with my dishes, devoured my food and when possible, rooted around my room. This led to a lot of locked doors, angry confrontations, and finally a call to management.

Don't deal with illegal or inappropriate behavior and don't let it chip away at your happiness and peace of mind. Go to your landlord or apartment offices if things have progressed beyond your control, especially if your roommate is violating a contract they may have signed along with their lease.

Your landlord or apartment manager has more resources at their disposal to deal with an unruly roommate, and often a visit from the higher up's can shock some sense into your roommate and show them that you aren't going to tolerate their behavior anymore.

Moving Out

In some cases, moving may be the one option you have left. It should not be the first option you resort to, as it can be expensive and cause unnecessary hassle for you. Don't let someone chase you from an apartment or home you really like!

If you do need to move, do so quietly. Don't make a big deal out of your decision and if possible, find your new residence before you tell anyone. Move quietly and if your oblivious roommate asks you why you're leaving, don't give in to your desire to rant about your displeasure with them. Tell them you're just searching for a change of pace and move on. Maybe your last parting gift can be "Social Etiquette for Dummies".


Cease and desist right now! Satisfy yourself with only thinking about revenge, and never act on it. Please, just trust me on this one. I've seen and heard too many revenge stories that ended absolutely horribly for both parties. Even if your roommate is a serial killer who leaves dismembered body parts on the kitchen table and blood in the sinks, don't act on those impulses.

Satisfy yourself with complaining to your parents or writing down stories about your nightmare roommates. If needed, keep a record of your roommate's bad behavior to prove to management or even police that your roommate is a problem, but never, ever try to solve a problem yourself with revenge.


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    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      7 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      This hub not only applies to the college and postgraduate experience but also to those entering the work world. Many young adults just entering the work world have to room with others in order to cut expenses as the average apartment is often overpriced. Great hub and voted up!

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Shanna, have to say been there and had much of that done to me. Brilliant hub written with humour and yet packed with great advice! Voted up and shared!

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      I've never had a roommate because I know I couldn't handle it - I'm too private and too picky about my things. But you offer great tips for anyone co-habitating. Voted up.


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