Roommate Conflict Resolution 101

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Living with a roommate in an apartment can be an enormously rewarding experience. It saves you both money and provides companionship and convenience.  When you decide to share your living space with another person in an apartment, there’s always the chance that conflict may arise. 


It doesn’t matter the context of an argument, it can become serious and detrimental to the roommate relationship. These conflicts can deteriorate to the point where it puts your living arrangement at risk. Here are a few strategies to use when you’re confronted with the most common things that roommates fight over:


  1. Messy or Neat?

    Stop arguing with your roommate over cleanliness and housekeeping tasks. Obviously, it’s ideal to find a roommate that sees eye to eye with you on housekeeping, but this is often difficult to decipher before you move in with someone.

    If you find yourself with a roommate that doesn’t have the same cleanliness needs as you, it doesn’t have to put an end to the roommate relationship! Talk to your roommate face to face and brainstorm ideas that can help make it work in a shared space.


  2. Who Pays What Bill?

    Debating with your roommate over who pays what apartment expenses can be stressful- discussions about money are often emotionally charged and hard. If you casually discussed payment before you signed a lease and your roommate ‘forgot’ some of the conversations, it can cause a roommate conflict.

    It’s very tempting to figure financial details out as you go, but be a good roommate and instead sit down with your roommate and put agreements in writing. This is the best way for active conflict resolution to avoid misunderstandings and problems that can add stress to your roommate experience.

  3. Late or Non-payment of Rent

    If you split rent with a roommate, both of you are responsible for getting the full amount of rent to your landlord on time every month. It doesn’t matter if you pay your share each month- if your roommate stops paying rent, you could put your tenancy at risk as well.

    Since both tenants are on the hook for the full amount of rent, one roommate’s poor fiscal responsibility can lead to the eviction of both tenants.

  4. Fighting Over Food

    Every household handles the food responsibilities differently. Some roommates take turns buying common items like eggs and milk. But if you notice your roommate has been dipping into your personal items in the fridge, what do you do?

    One option is to start labeling your food and see if that helps alleviate the situation. You have to decide your boundaries here- maybe you’re okay with people using your stuff, but you just want to be asked.

    Once you’ve decided your boundaries, communicate to your roommate. It’s important to have a conversation that sets the expectations around respecting each other’s things.


Roommate conflict can be likened to a cold. When addressed early and given the attention it needs and deserves, it’s not that big of a deal. But if you neglect it and ignore it for too long, it becomes a much bigger problem that will eventually spill over into other parts of both of your lives.

The secret to peaceful roommate conflict resolution is to have respectful, open communication. Respect is key here- you must be honest without being condescending or rude. Tone is crucial as well. Leave the sarcasm at the door, no matter how frustrated you are.

If your roommate doesn’t understand your request- don’t get frustrated or angry! Just clearly explain how you feel. This is obviously a two-way street as well- don’t brush off the things your roommate comes to you about. 


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