Little problems left unaddressed soon become big ones. When you’re sharing a home with someone, especially for the first time, you might be surprised to learn they have wholly different ideas when it comes to paying bills, housekeeping and privacy. But if you live in a very expensive region like the San Francisco Bay Area, you may have no other choice but to share a place. Fortunately, living with others can be a lot more amicable when you know the most common roommate disputes to avoid.

Financial Obligations

You both know the rent is due on the first, so why the $#&% do you have to remind your roommate every month? There are a few ways to deal with this. First of all, everyone who lives in the place should be on the lease. And, while the landlord wants all of the money regardless, if your roommate isn’t holding up their end and their name is on the lease too, it will make it easier to replace them with someone more likely to pay. It’s a good idea to document in writing when all of the shared bills are due, how much each person is responsible for paying and what the consequences will be if they don’t.


Divide household chores equally among roommates. Here again, a written agreement will go a long way toward avoiding disputes. Work out a schedule; maybe one week you do the bathroom and the dishes, while your roommate vacuums and dusts. However, if you take it upon yourself to cook a huge meal, you should deal with the dishes afterwards. In other words, even with the weekly schedule in place, adopt a “you messed it up, you clean it up” rule. Additionally, institute a “clean it up immediately” rule. Conversely, if neither of you likes to clean, pool your cash and hire a housekeeping service to come in once a week to do the dishes and the bathrooms, as well as vacuum and dust.

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Even if you don’t mind your roommate, you may start to resent their steady stream of unruly guests. There will also be problems If one of you is quiet and reserved but the other is outgoing and craves the constant company of lots of others. You’ll want peace and quiet; they’ll want lots of friends around. If you have no choice but to share a place with someone who likes to party, reach an agreement about how often and when they can host events. Insist upon advance notice and their agreement to either clean the place or pay to have the place cleaned immediately after every event.

Your Stuff

Bedrooms and their contents should be private property and off-limits without express permission. You should treat each other’s’ toiletries, clothing and the like as personal items and leave them alone. When it comes to food, buy your own, label your own and leave the rest alone—unless you’re invited to share. Dishes are usually community property, as long as everyone cleans up when they mess up.

Ultimately, it comes down to communicating expectations and documenting them in writing. In this regard, a well-crafted roommate agreement will help prevent just about every one of the common roommate disputes to avoid.

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