A Fresher’s Guide to Flat Politics

Your first flatmates at uni often become the first friends you make on your new adventure – but if things go wrong, you may end up with an unwanted arch-enemy. To stop World War III breaking out, here are some simple solutions to the most frequent flat frictions.


Problem: Household supplies

Undoubtedly one or two flatmates won’t consider themselves responsible for contributing to the cost of toiletries or cleaning provisions. However, these items are vital to the cleanliness of the flat, and its occupiers, so excuses like “oh, but I bought the last batch of toilet roll” (when they didn’t) and “the cleaner is due in four days, let’s just leave the kitchen covered in mold until then” are not valid. Everyone needs to buy their share.

Solution: Club together

Things like bleach, toilet roll, furniture polish and disinfectant tend to be available in large quantities; it doesn’t make economic sense to buy them for personal use. Decide which items you’ll all utilize regularly, agree on a budget and make a kitty. This way, the flatmate who uses the last piece of toilet roll, or finishes off the bleach, can simply dip into the kitty, nip to the shop and restock. Remember and keep receipts to ensure the kitty is being spent on its intended purpose!


Problem: Morning queues

Morning queues tend to creep in around the end of semester during peak examination and placement time. When you have a 9am exam, the last thing you want is to be banging down the bathroom door  while your flatmate is getting ready demanding to be let in – it will only make you later.  Also, telling your boss you’re late for the first day of placement because someone was “hogging the shower” will NOT make a good impression. These scenarios can easily be avoided.

Solution: Communicate

If you need to be up at a particular time, let this be known to your flatmates. There’s a chance they have  an early start too so it might be worth arranging a ‘bathroom rota’. During my last year of uni, there was a time when all three members of my flat had to be somewhere for 9am. We simply agreed on when we would each drag ourselves out of bed and had a limit of 30 minutes in the bathroom. No-one was late, no-one was fired and no-one fell out.


Problem: Cleaning

Nobody likes to clean, and unless you live with Monica Gellar 2.0 you will have to sort out a system – leaving leftover food and dirty dishes lying does not provide a pleasant, homely smell.

Solution: Get organised

The simplest way to avoid living in a rubbish bin is to tidy as you go along. But in case some are not disciplined enough for this method – draw up another rota. Decide who will clean the kitchen at the end of each day and stick to it. You can even create a penalty system to punish anyone who fails to fall in line; a week of washing dishes will soon teach them!


Problem: Noise

Of course we all like to play music, invite friends over and generally have a ball when we’re not studying, but just because you are free from the books doesn’t mean your flatmates are. Music and loud impressions of lecturers at the ‘Just Handed in an Essay’ blowout of 10 guests in the living room may not be appreciated.

Solution: Be considerate

If you’re planning on having friends round and things have the potential to get rowdy, check with your flatmates first. On the occasion where they have an exam or deadline approaching, it may be wise to ask someone else to host.

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