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I moved homes a few months ago. I’m living with roommates: 1 couple and the landlady. I’m not sure if the landlady is currently living in the home as I haven’t seen her for several weeks.

This morning I received an upset email from the landlady about me cooking and making noise after midnight. Given my work schedule (and other factors) I am up latter than what’s considered normal. I thought I was being quiet and am sorry I have disturbed the other roommates and would like to solve the problem in an agreeable way.

There’s a few things I'm having trouble navigating

1) I have trouble communicating with the other roommates. They are extremely non-direct and sometimes when I’m speaking to them they quickly say their sentence and walk away before I can reply. They also haven’t done things I’ve requested of them like dry their hands before touching a door knob so it’s not wet for the next person.

2) It seems the landlord and the other roommates feel they can arbitrarily make rules for me. We had agreed to a signed lease which says I pay money to use this as my home and I really don’t appreciate extra rules being added on top. I would really appreciate if they phrase these things as requests or negotiations instead of orders. Another example includes the landlady was unplugging an appliance of mine because she doesn’t like it left plugged in (even when turned off).

The email stated "your roommates have talked to you about cooking and making noise after midnight yet you continue to do that". First off, they didn’t talk to me. Second, they don’t get to decide when I cook. I know midnight is late but they are up themselves cooking until midnight so part of the thing is I have to wait until they’re done.

How should I reply to this? My goal is to keep doing what I’m doing without having people try to impose additional rules and get mad at me when I’m not following them. Should I tell the landlady that the couple isn’t making an effort to communicate? Knowing what specifically is making noise would help because if it’s something like opening the fridge door then using a mini fridge might help.

Does one necessarily take priority: not talking to me vs I wouldn't have agreed to it even if he did? Or are these two separate issues that should be individually addressed?

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As a former RA, I've seen my fair share of roommate conflicts, and this sounds pretty familiar. I once had a roommate who left post-it note complaints on my door instead of talking to me.

I would respond to your landlady and inform her that you will discuss the issue directly with your other roommates.

Next, schedule a sit down meeting with the couple. Inform them that you don't appreciate them going to the landlady instead of addressing you directly:

We're all adults, and we should handle our disagreements as such. If you have a problem with me, please address me directly. There's no need for passive aggressive behavior.

Next, address the cooking:

I understand your frustration about me cooking at midnight, but it's what my schedule allows for. I will do my best to be quieter. Also, part of the reason that I have to cook so late is because I have to wait for you to finish cooking. Would you consider cooking earlier, or letting me use the kitchen while you're cooking?

As for the other issues you've been having with all three of your roommates, I would recommend addressing those as well. Schedule an in person meeting, or send a group email since your landlady hasn't been home. Remind them about the doorknob and the appliances respectfully and directly.

If your roommates' inability to properly communicate in person persists, I would recommend starting a group message so that communication is direct, and there's a record of it. Going forward, you also might want to consider adopting the 2 day rule with your roommates - if something is bothering you, but not enough for you to address it within 2 days, you must drop it, because clearly it didn't bother you enough.

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    Group messaging is indispensable in this situation. – user13972 Aug 24 '18 at 22:42
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I had a pretty good track record of getting along with roomates for almost a decade and I always found the key is to be brief, to the point, and unemotional. You do not want to start mixing issues together (eg the hand-drying thing mixed with the noise after midnight thing). Focus on each issue individually and only ever address one at a time.

In your case I would respond to the landlady with something like

"Thank you for bringing this to my attention. This is the first I am hearing about this issue. I will make an effort to be as quiet as possible when I need to cook at night in the future".

Thanks again, refbobby

This communicates that you did not know about the problem, will endeavour to resolve it, but will not be told when you can or cannot use facilities in your home. If you need to cook after midnight, you are cooking after midnight, people have to eat.

If you want to address the situation with your other roomates (which is optional), I would say something like

Sorry if I was too noisy in the kitchen while cooking, in the future, if I'm too loud, you can let me know right away and I'll do my best to quiet down.

This invites them to communicate with you first before escalating to the landlady, and it gives them an incentive, which is that you might be able to fix the problem instantly next time.

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