Living with people can be extremely rewarding, but it isn’t always a walk in the park. Sharing space, facilities, bills and household chores means there are lots of things to clash over.
Expert Home Tips guide you through resolving issues in your flatshare, without things getting out of hand.
Nip it in the bud
The worst thing to do with any issues is to let them linger. Problems that are left undealt with will lead you to harbouring anger towards other flatmates.
Avoid a hostile environment and tense encounters by nipping issues in the bud as and when they arise. Confrontation may seem intimidating at first, but it’s important to act fast to prevent lasting damage in your flatshare community.
One of the worst things you can do when dealing with flatshare issues is try to tackle them over phones – it’s never a good idea.
Messages, however intended, can sometimes come across cold and sharp, increasing agitation amongst the group. It’s also much easier to say things you don’t mean in the heat of the moment with the protection of a screen in front of you, and as a result people tend to be a lot more confrontational over the phone.
Texting is fine for simple request or reminders, but keep the important stuff for face-to-face discussions.
Get everyone together
When you’re having a talk about flat-related stuff, everyone should be there – not including certain people will only add fuel to the fire.
Arrange a day and time that everyone can make and hold a sort of ‘meeting’ in a communal area of the flat, such as the living room.
Depending on how many of you there are, and the complexity of the issue, you may decide that someone should take notes – this helps keep everyone accountable and prevents backtracking.
Plan what you’re going to say
Just as you wouldn’t go into a work meeting without planning what you’re going to say, you shouldn’t go into a flatshare meeting without a bit of pre-planning either.
Sit down with yourself beforehand and make sure you have the points you want to bring up – if any – stuck in your head. Be sure to rationalise each one thoroughly first – are you being reasonable?
When bringing up an issue, it’s important to avoid being too general. Preferably use specific examples. This will mean the person at fault can’t deny anything and also make the occasion easier for everyone else to remember too.
Let everyone speak
We were all taught the importance of letting everyone have a fair say at school – don’t forget it now.
During the meeting, it’s important that everyone gets a chance to speak. Any issues, however big or small, should be voiced, taken seriously and not dismissed by others. No nasty comments should be made, and problems shouldn’t be made personal.
Once everything’s been said and done, the issues need resolving. If it was a one off occasion, a simple ‘sorry it won’t happen again’ may be enough.
If the issue is more regular, perhaps some new rules need to be set into place. If it’s a case of people being kept up by a noisy flatmate, make a ‘no loud noise after Xpm’ rule. If one flatmate brings their partner back every night and takes up the living room, look at limiting the amount they’re allowed round and get them to check it’s ok beforehand. If a cleaning routine isn’t being adhered to, reiterate exactly what’s expected, and look at bringing a professional cleaner in – the price will put most people off!
Be prepared to compromise
Before you even move into a flatshare, you should be aware that life is very much communal and compromise is essential – remember, everyone has different standards and lifestyles and these must be brought together as harmoniously as possible.
If you’re the one that’s caused the issue, be aware that you may have to compromise on your lifestyle or do things slightly differently in the future. If you’re the one with the issue, again, don’t presume your exact expectations should be met – you too may need to compromise.
The idea is to reach a solution that makes life easier for the person with the issue but which everyone else can also agree with.
Once it’s done, move on.
The whole purpose of a flatshare meeting is to resolve issues and any animosity caused by them. Once a solution has been found, it’s essential to leave everything in the past and start afresh. After all, everyone deserves a second chance.