My Roommate Ignores the Roommate Agreement: What Can I Do?

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My Roommate Ignores the Roommate Agreement: What Can I Do?

Rachael Weiner · Nov 25, 2009

Nothing is more frustrating than living with a roommate who ignores your roommate agreement. Unfortunately, how the situation resolves itself depends on you. It all boils down to two choices: you can either keep your mouth shut and internalize your frustration or you can say something to your roommate. The latter is preferable, especially if you want to continue living in an enjoyable environment and maintain a civil relationship.

Think about What You Need to Say before You Say It

Chances are you’re mad about the situation, and rightfully so. The roommate agreement was put into place so that you and your roommate could cohabitate peacefully and comfortably. If you’re doing your part, your roommate should be doing his part, too. Your roommate’s negligence or lack of concern throws the entire living situation off balance.

There are several variables in this type of situation that will ultimately affect how you go about solving it. The key variables are both the kind of relationship you have with your roommate and the kind of person you are when it comes to confrontation. Some people have no problem with confrontation while others are stand-offish and worry about hurting feelings. And, obviously, the way you approach a friend about the situation is bound to be different than the way you’d approach a roommate you know only on a surface level. Whatever the case, you need to take some time to sort your thoughts. Never approach your roommate when you’re heated or emotional. Wait to clear your head and get back to level thinking before doing anything. You’ll only make the situation worse if you say something in the heat of the moment.

Be Specific and Present Your Case Effectively

Broad generalizations about your roommate’s behavior won’t necessarily make your case. Rather than telling your roommate that he or she isn’t holding up to his or her end of the cleanliness agreement, cite specific instances and examples (hasn’t cleaned the bathroom in two months, leaves dirty dishes in the sink every night). At the same time, don’t be condescending or bossy. In stating your case, focus on how the situation makes you feel. Saying that you feel like he or she doesn’t care about your surroundings or that you feel taken advantage of comes across as less accusatory and will be better received by your roommate.

Compromise

Even after talking with your roommate, there’s always the possibility that nothing will change. In such a case, the next best option is to re-evaluate the roommate agreement. Are you possible being too rigid in what you expect out of the living situation? Like a neat freak living with a slob or a partier living with a home-body, some people are simply bound to have completely different perspectives and expectations. Think about where you can compromise.

If things really don’t work out with your roommate, one of you can move out or you can break the lease. Always try to work things out first-these extremes should only be used as last resorts.

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Rachael Weiner: I’m a communications professional for a non-profit, which financially necessitates my status as an apartment dweller. Constantly “on-the-go,” I’ve resided in five different apartments across the United States over the past five years. Roommate issues, budgeting, organizing and handling problem neighbors are my specialty.

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