Living with Flatmates


Here are some scenarios you may encounter when flatting and some tips for preventing or resolving issues that arise. OUSA Student Support can be your ally before the situation turns into a full-blown flatting drama.  

Scenario 1:

One of your flatmates has decided they no longer want to live with you, have moved out and stopped paying their share of the rent. They are responsible for finding a new tenant and organised some people to view but these have been unsuitable to you. The Landlord reminded you that you are all responsible for paying the rent.

Response: You are most likely ‘jointly and severally liable’ for the rent. When one flatmate stops paying, you need to keep paying and find a way to settle it with the other flatmate.  Early communication can prevent this arising – work out issues as they arise. If one person decides to leave, plan together to find a suitable replacement. Claims can be taken to the Disputes Tribunal to recoup money owed by one flatmate. Keep records of who has paid what and when.

Scenario 2:

You and a group of friends signed up for a flat in the middle of last year.  Over time, you realise you don’t want to live with one person in the group because some of their habits could create issues for you. At the beginning of the year, you have decided that you want to ask them to leave.

Response: It’s best to make sure that you know your potential flatmates before you sign. If you see ‘red flags’, try and iron these out early. A Flatmate Agreement can set some guidelines for what works well. If you are all certain that you can’t live with another person, consider the needs and alternatives they may have. OUSA Student Support can help navigate this complex scenario. Communication is key in situations such as these!

Scenario 3:

At the beginning of the year, you and your flatmates drew up a flatmate agreement. You all agreed to not use recreational drugs in the flat. Last evening two of your flatmates and their friends were smoking weed in the lounge. You raised the issue and the two flatmates said that they no longer agreed with the rule. You don’t like being around drugs and worry about your tenancy agreement.

Response: It’s great that you drew up a flatmate agreement, but it’s a shame there is no longer an ‘agreement’. Calling a flat meeting is probably a good place to start to re-negotiate what is acceptable to everyone. If the issue seems unresolvable, seek out some facilitation or mediation support from OUSA Student Support. Timing is everything here; you would not want to bring up this issue while your flatmates are under the influence, so pick a time after the incident when your flatmates are sober. 

Scenario 4:

One of your flatmates is not so well known to you all.  They are very quiet and from the beginning of the year tended to stick to themselves within the flat. Over the course of the first semester, you notice their behaviour becoming more and more reclusive, to the point that they stop coming out of their room and don’t appear to be attending any Uni classes. You have tried hard to engage with them and include them in flat activities, but this hasn’t really made any difference. They don’t appear to have any friends or other supports and you are concerned for their mental well-being

Response: It’s great that you care about your flatmate’s wellbeing. Chat with them about what you are observing, your concerns, and the impact that this behaviour is having on you. Your flatmate may not be ready, or they may be relieved to hear this feedback. Keep communication open so if the situation worsens, you are able to guide them to get help. OUSA Student Support is a non-threatening starting point for this kind of first contact for everyone involved. 

Scenario 5:

You are doing first year Med and need to work hard to achieve good grades. You need a quiet space at the flat but your flatmates regularly party hard. Most nights there are extra people around with loud music and the flat has become a pig sty. You soon realise that this arrangement isn’t working for your needs.

Response: Best to draw up a flatmate agreement at the beginning of the year and have conversations about flat standards. Before signing up, ask yourself ‘how well do I know these people?’. When you realise it isn’t working, seek resolution by changing behaviour or creating an exit plan together. Collectively take responsibility for finding a suitable replacement for you on the lease. Keep communication channels open with your flatmates, and your landlord! 

Scenario 6:

One of your flatmates never seems to have enough money to pay her share of the rent and flat costs on time. She regularly borrows from flatmates to cover these costs and now has significant debts to you all. You have talked to her about managing her money but this hasn’t made any difference.

Response: Try and get on top of the situation early before your flatmate owes too much money. Help her work out whether income or spending is the issue, and how she might budget for flat costs. Suggest she could get some budgeting help from OUSA Student Support or have a facilitated conversation together to work out a solution.

Remember to reach out to an advocate at OUSA Student Support if you have any questions, concerns or queries surrounding any flatting situations that you are unsure about.