Breaking up with a housemate

by Greg on September 3, 2014

Bad housemate

Have you ever come home, arms filled with groceries ready to cook dinner, only to find every pot and pan in the house unwashed in the sink?

Or maybe you’ve had friends over for drinks but your moody housemate has just sat there, not joining in and making everyone feel uncomfortable.
Or perhaps you’ve just spent too many sleepless nights listening to your housemate party in the middle of the week.

Whatever it is that’s driving you crazy, if you’re living in a share-house of horrors then it’s time to do something about it. It’s time to break up with your housemate.

Sharing accommodation can be hit and miss. You can find the best friends in complete strangers, but you can also lose friends you mistakenly thought you could live with. Despite how well you get along outside the house, unless your social habits and idea of cleanliness are on par, it can become impossible to live together. So if it’s gotten to the stage where you avoid going home at night just to avoid your housemate, it’s definitely time to move on. The question is, should you be the one to go? Or should you ask your offending housemate to leave? And if so, how do you even go about that?

Breaking up with a housemate can be tricky and there are lots of factors to consider. Ultimately, who stays and who goes will have to be worked out between you, and may depend on who’s on the lease or who was there first. But no one wants things to turn ugly, so when you broach the subject of separating here are a few tips to remember:

  • Communication: When you have an issue with your housemate, make sure you sit down and have a conversation face to face. Passive aggressive notes written on the chalk board will get you nowhere!
  • Honesty: Whether you’re thinking of leaving or asking someone to move out, honesty is the best policy. If it’s because they’re too loud, say so. If it’s because they’re continually eating your expensive imported cheese, then let them know. You might find they’re willing to change their bad habits before either of you has to pack your bags
  • Composure: Stay calm. You may be feeling worked up and angry, but it’s hard for people to hear what you have to say if you’re aggressive. If it helps, write down all the points you want to get across to keep you focused
  • Listen: You might be upset, but listen to what your housemate has to say. There are always two sides to every story!
  • Respect: If you decide to leave, do the right thing and pay your last rent, any overdue bills and put in for any repairs. No matter how annoying your housemate is, always take the high road and keep your self-respect intact

If you’re unable to resolve your issues and decide the best thing to do is move out, don’t forget to tie up loose ends before you go:

  • Lease: If you’re on the lease, be sure to tell your real estate agent you’re moving out and arrange for your name to be removed. Your agent will let you know if there are any financial issues you need to settle before you leave
  • Bond: If you contributed to the bond when you moved in, then you are entitled to receive your share when you move out. In sharehouses, it’s quite common for the next person to who moves in to pay your bond and take your place on the rental bond agreement
  • Utiliites: Before you go, make sure you remove your name from any accounts such as gas, electricity, phone landline, Foxtel, internet etc. to avoid any unwanted debts down the track

Sharing a home can be lots of fun. But finding the right person to live with can take some practice. If you’ve had an unfortunate living experience, there’s no need to dwell on it. Dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes and make sure you know what to look for next time. When you’re ready to look for a new flatmate, head over to Gumtree to find a new share house or even put up your own ad. Just remember to meet with potential housemates beforehand to make sure you’re a match before you move in together!

Andrew Rodrigues

Andrew is a regular contributor to is Australia’s number one free classifieds.

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