Signs of a Bad Roommate and My Personal Experience With The Problem


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bad roommate signs
Photo by Hal Cooks on Unsplash

What is considered a bad roommate? It’s the roommate who damages your stuff, shows no respect, or is late on the rent.

I’ve had plenty of personal experience dealing with bad roommates over the years.

Below, I share with you some of the worst things I’ve had to deal with from having roommates. 

Hopefully, you can gather some insight from my experiences and make your bad roommate situation better!

Let’s begin with a story about one bad roommate I had.

In 2009, I met a really nice roommate, and we completely hit it off. Then they moved in, and everything seemed normal for the first month. Then with a serious look on their face, they asked me if I could show them how to use the vacuum, broom, and mop.

I was in total disbelief that they would ask me this, but I found it a bit humorous at the same time. A bunch of other cleaning problems came up after that too, and I was not going to be their maid. They moved out a couple of months later.

The lesson here was I could have saved a lot of time if I had known about the cleaning problem before they moved in. So when screening a new roommate, I always bring that story up and see they might respond to it.

The last answer I’d want to hear from any new potential roommate is:
“I don’t know how to use a mop either, can you teach me?”

The best way to find out about your potential roommate’s bad habits is by having a great conversation with them. Asking questions and telling each other stories will reveal any red flags you might have about them. If you don’t hear anything bad you might have a winner.

During the first month, when you live with someone new, make sure you alert them to any of their bad habits. You need to catch it early on because the more time that passes, the harder it will be to correct.

Bad behaviors or habits become much harder to manage when you have more than one roommate.

The examples below are all true and something I’ve personally experienced. With the experiences I share below, use it to your advantage to filter out any bad signs you might discover with your next roommate.

Let’s Begin!

Let’s Keep The Kitchen Clean Please

Sometimes sharing a kitchen will be going well for one person, but the other person is thinking the following: “This sucks, what is this person thinking?”

Imagine this for a moment, you go to your favorite home store “Bed Bath And Beyond” and buy a new premium dish brush (one that will really scrub those dishes clean.)

You use the brush once to clean some dishes, and then you leave it by the sink. Then, your new roommate decides they want to use this brush.

They see it and say, “Wow! What a lovely new brush, how nice of my roommate to buy this. It will make a great brush to clean my muddy shoes with.”

You later walk into the kitchen to witness them doing this. Of course, you say: “Hey! What are you doing?” They get upset because you are yelling and in their mind, they are doing no harm.

What if you did not walk in on them? I guess you’d be using a dirty dish brush for washing your dishes.

This example shows you exactly why it’s important to make sure that your new roommate shares the same values as you for how things should be treated in the kitchen. The only way to find out what kind of values they share is by communicating with them as much as possible about the issues at hand.

Another interesting problem that comes up in the kitchen is when everybody stares at the overflowing trash in the garbage can; sometimes it will even get packed down. Then you can’t pack it down anymore, and it smells dreadful.

It should only get packed down once and never get to the point where it smells. Set the example and take it out yourself, then hint to your roommate to chip in if they are slacking.

The last big problem I have noticed in the kitchen is the floor. There’ll be a time when you’ll be finished sweeping and mopping it. You’ll look down when you are done and say “Wow does that floor sparkle!”.

You’ll leave for a few hours, and when you get back, you feel something under your feet. Then you realize what has happened. Your roommate cleaned the counter-tops and wiped all the coffee grinds and sugar straight onto the floor.

So you make a request to have them clean that up, and they say “Okay.” You come back a few hours later, and your feet are sticking to the floor like glue. They used a cold wet towel to spread it all over the floor. Then you find out that they don’t even know how to use a mop!

Believe it or not, this happened to me once with an old roommate, I was shocked, to say the least.

The takeaway: Make sure your roommate has cleaning experience before you move in with them!

Sharing a Bathroom

If you are not getting along in the kitchen, the bathroom will be hell. If you are getting along, it will be no big deal.

One of my favorite problems is when my roommate likes to use my clean towel as a floor mat! It’s nice for their wet feet to dry off, after getting out of the shower. Then they’ll mop up the water on the floor and hang your towel back up.

That was a problem I had once and why I don’t share a bathroom anymore.

If you get into the bathroom and can’t figure out why your towel is always wet, there’s a good chance your roommate is either using your towel, or cleaning up the floor with it.

So be on the lookout and be sure to communicate with them that using your towel for anything is unacceptable behavior!

The Laundry Area

Having a laundry schedule might sound like a good idea, but no one will ever follow it 100% of the time. (And in the real world, this is actually not the worst rule to break either.)

Once, I had a roommate who would always leave their clothes in the washing machine or dryer.

I also had a roommate who would remove your clothes in the middle of a wash cycle and put them on the floor because they needed to rush to clean their own clothes.

Dealing with each other’s clothes will always be an issue at some point.

With that said, anytime you are doing your laundry, be a good roommate and move your clothes from the washer to the dryer as soon as possible when the cycle finishes.

Then remove your clothes out of the dryer when they are cleaned and dry.

If you accidentally leave laundry sitting in one of the machines and your roomy needs to do laundry. Agree with them that they’ll gently put your clothes to the side on top of the laundry machine and not on the floor.

Also, please make sure to remove the lint from the dryer. Nothing is worse than burning up your dryer because it cannot vent properly. And believe me, people will not want to do this and will forget!

My last annoying experience was sharing a washer and dryer with a roommate and they expected me to fold their clothes.

Don’t ever expect a roommate to fold your clothes. Ever! Your roommate is not your personal caretaker.

Sharing a Living Room

Overall, I think the living room is the easiest space to share with roommates.

The only issue I’ve ever experienced was having my roommate leave food or drink stains on the couches, chairs, and floor!

You could set a rule that says no one can eat in the living room, but eventually, that won’t work if you decide to have guests over or a small party. Or if you like to eat snacks while watching your favorite show or movie on TV!

So do your best to keep food and drinks from spilling everywhere.

In addition:

Respect the furniture, whether it is new or old. Furniture pieces such as couches, tables, pictures, candles, lighting, and a TV with a DVR will benefit everyone.

The Garage and Outdoor Areas

What kinds of problems could you possibly run into, while sharing the garage and outdoor areas?

I’ve run into plenty, here are some things I’ve had to deal with.

If you have too much patio furniture, you’ll need to pick out the best pieces and leave the rest at the junkyard. No one wants big, heavy, rusty old furniture.

Barbecue time! Make sure you show all your roomies how to use the grill if you’re the one who owns it. I once saw a roommate take a Charbroil grill and preheat it too high. Then they forgot about it and it burned up the metal paint on the lid and ruined the burners inside.

Storing too much junk in the garage could take up valuable indoor parking. Or worse, your roommate moves out and leaves that junk behind. So be careful of having a roommate who wants to pack the garage with too much stuff.

When I bought my first single-family home I had selected a roommate who liked working on old cars. That roommate was the worst person to share a garage or parking area with, that broken car never left its spot.

Not to mention, all the scattered old tires, rims, tools, and engine parts throughout the garage.

In the future, if I ever consider a new roommate, they won’t be able to use the garage for any car projects! Period.

Roommate Agreements Can Fix Lots Of Problems

If you don’t currently have a roommate agreement with your roommates and you are experiencing problems, the solution might be to create one.

Every roommate agreement should have a section that will talk about cleaning and the common house rules to keep everyone living in peace.

Check out my other article about Roommate Agreements to learn more about how to create one.

Final Thoughts

Although I currently don’t have as many roommates around as I used to, these memories still bring back some very important life lessons about living with people.

The most important lesson being that you need to communicate well with the people you share a living space with.

In addition, being respectful and polite will go a long way in correcting any issues you have with someone you live with.

Over the years, I’ve been able to resolve at least 90% of my roommate problems without anyone having to move out.

Just be patient and respectful, most problems will work out just fine!

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