Resolving issues with flatmates

See our advice for getting on with your flatmates and the support available if you are having problems.

Getting on with your flatmates

When living with new people, there are simple things you can do to encourage a positive environment.

You should:

  • discuss personal habits with your flatmates
  • address issues that are affecting you as soon as they arise and talk about your feelings
  • keep low-level problems within the house – don’t canvas friends for support and don’t mention disputes on social media
  • be understanding and accepting of alternative lifestyles
  • plan in advance for overnight guests
  • respect your flatmates’ privacy – always knock before entering someone’s room and respect their private lives
  • be cautious about becoming romantically involved with one of your housemates – if you don’t stay together, living together can be difficult
  • replace broken items and return items you borrow
  • not leave argumentative notes around the flat for others to see
  • make an effort to keep your living space clean, comfortable and pleasant.

Some practical steps you can take include:

  • agreeing on a cleaning rota
  • arranging group activities such as house meals or film nights
  • deciding whether you want to buy food individually or together – if you think someone is eating your food because they can’t afford their own, ask them to contact the Student Life Centre, which can provide hardship support
  • keeping accurate records of the bills you share
  • if someone isn’t doing their washing up, doing your own and then politely asking them to do theirs if it’s still there the next day.

Important: Look out for each other – if you notice a housemate is neglecting, isolating or harming themselves ask if they need help or talk to the Student Life Centre.

Resolving issues with your flatmates

If conflicts arise, or you’re having trouble with housemates, often the best way to resolve them is by talking through issues.

Try to:

  • listen so you can understand each other’s issues – sit down and make eye contact
  • stick to the issue – don’t bring up unrelated matters or unresolved disputes
  • acknowledge when the other person makes a valid point
  • avoid saying deliberately personal or hurtful things.

Don’t spend more than an hour arguing about something. Separate if the discussion becomes heated but agree a time to talk again.

Talk to a Residential Adviser

If you are living in University-managed accommodation, and struggling to resolve a disagreement with a housemate, you can contact your Residential Adviser for mediation.

A Residential Adviser can help mediate disagreements between flatmates.

Mediation is non-judgemental and non-directive – it’s not about who’s right and wrong. It allows both parties the opportunity to explain how the situation is affecting them and decide together how best to resolve the situation.

In more difficult circumstances you can be invited to an arbitration with one of the officers or managers of the Residential Adviser scheme.

You can look in your kitchen for your Residential Adviser’s contact details, or email campus-support@sussex.ac.uk if you need further support.

Your accommodation agreement

If you live on campus, you will have signed an accommodation agreement. The agreement is called a licence to occupy [PDF 511KB].

This covers your responsibilities when living in our accommodation. The same responsibilities apply to your flatmates.

Renting privately

See our advice about getting off to a good start and living in the community.

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