I live in an apartment with 3 other people. Nice people and we get along pretty well. We have a cleaning rotation where everyone gets to clean a quarter each week which rotates. Which is fair a thing.

The problem is that for the last couple of month I do spend at least 5/6 out of 7 nights at my SO. Meaning I mostly go from work directly to her and then I am almost never at my own flat.

In the time I am at home I spend 95% in my room, don't cook, very rarely take a shower there because I shower at SO most of the time. To put it bluntly, I was pretty lazy and didn't do my part for at least a month or so. But I do help A LOT at cleaning etc at my girlfriends flat (she does not live alone, also flatmates) which I think is fair because I spend time there, make a mess, and so I clean. Which is not the case at my own flat.

The thing is, that on one hand, it might not be nice to the others that they have to take over my part, but on the other hand I am ALMOST NEVER at home, and only spend time in my room (which everyone cleans themselves) and never cook, meaning I maybe contribute 5% to the dirt in the apartment.

Question

How could I communicate to my flatmates that I want to organize the cleaning schedule differently so that I have to take over a smaller part because I am practically never at home?

Addendum: I would subjectively like to know if you personally find this okay and if you got alternative ideas for such a cleaning schedule.

  • A scenario to consider; what would happen if the 3 others suddenly had the same routine as you? On one hand, there might be less housework to do, but would you be happy having the responsibilities evenly divided again? – Kozaky Nov 23 at 11:17
  • @Kozaky Of course. If everyone wouldnt be at home mostly, it would be equal again and it would seem fair to split the small amount of work in 4. – MansNotHot Nov 23 at 11:52
  • Do you expect a reduction in rent too? If you have an equal share / interest in a property, do you not think you have equal responsibilty to maintain it too? What if you did less, the others didn't maintain it to a good enough standard, and the landlord charged you all. Do you think you'd be let off that? – Astralbee Nov 23 at 12:36
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    @Astralbee I think there is a difference between rent and cleaning. Even when I am not here and dont pay the rent, the rent HAS to be payed from someone and that would impact them directly. If i am not here and dont clean (a lot) my share of makin dirt is not present as well so not really more work for them – MansNotHot Nov 23 at 12:59

I read this question and a big red klaxon labelled "Classic Roommate Error Alert!" started blaring all over the shop.

I'd say in my experience that the #1 cause of room mate arguments is the perception that a member of the household isn't pulling their weight with regards to the domestic chores.

While you are technically correct in that you aren't now contributing as much "mess" as you used to the reality is that the amount of actual work involved in cleaning the flat hasn't diminished by 20% (25% - the 5% you still contribute), things like cleaning the bathroom or whipping the hoover around are still the same amount of work. So you are basically asking your housemates to do more work because of how you are choosing to spend your time.

It's like agreeing to go even share on a large pizza then trying to weasel out of paying your share because you only choose to eat one slice as you'd picked up a burger on the way home and saying "I paid for my burger, why should I pay for my share of the pizza?"

I do help A LOT at cleaning etc at my girlfriends flat (she does not live alone, also flatmates) which I think is fair because I spend time there, make a mess, and so I clean.

It's good and right that you help out at your GF's place but that doesn't mean squat to your housemates.

There's also the issue that your housemates may see this as the proverbial thin end of the wedge - if they agree that you shouldn't clean as much will you be coming to them next month saying you don't think you should pay as much towards the bills?

How could I communicate to my flatmates that I want to organize the cleaning schedule differently so that I have to take over a smaller part because I am practically never at home?

I wouldn't - yeah that means you'll be doing some extra work but it's your choice to be spending as much time away not theirs so it's just the "cost" of your lifestyle choice.

I would subjectively like to know if you personally find this okay and if you got alternative ideas for such a cleaning schedule.

Honestly? I'd be pretty annoyed that your choices were making extra work for me. Especially in the context of you already having slacked off for the last month.

  • Adding to this already good and detailled answer: You and your flatmate have equal rights and thus equal responsibilities. Think about it this way. You both pay the same rent, regardless of who's more often at home. So why would you split the housework not equally aswell? – Suimon Dec 6 at 9:26

Logic may seem to be on your side in this request. If you're not there then there ought to be 25% less mess, so if you do 25% less cleaning that works out, right? They may not all see it that way.

If you have ever walked into an empty house that hasn't been lived in for months it can be as dusty as hell. Dust doesn't take a vacation, nor do germs. Some things just need cleaning on a regular basis, regardless of how many people are using them. A toilet or drain will start to smell after [x] number of days because of bacteria, and bins with food waste need emptying before they start to smell. It doesn't matter how many people are in the house - if you clean these things less frequently, they will stink.

Fact is, you went into a house-sharing situation with 3 other people. You all expected to pay a quarter of the rent, a quarter of the bills, and do a quarter of the cleaning. Your housemates may not have to clean your room or pick up your rubbish, but by taking your name off the rota entirely, they will have to do some things more often. Even if the bin bags are 25% less full, they will have to be taken out just as regularly, and the toilet cleaned just as often. I imagine there are also set days for refuse collection, and someone has to take out the trash. If that is a weekly job on rotation, then it is going to come around every 3 weeks instead of every 4. Without you, all the worst jobs are going to become more frequent for your housemates, and frankly, they may start to wish they had a different 4th housemate.

If you go into a discussion asking to be taken out of the rota entirely, or even doing less, you should at least expect some dispute. Before you do, think about a reasonable request that sees you do at least some of the cleaning chores - the ones that don't place an additional burden on your housemates. It may even be preferable for you to ask them what they think would be a fair reduction in duties.

Perhaps call a house meeting and say:

As I'm spending most of my time away from the house at the moment, I don't feel like I can be here for all my cleaning chores on the rota. But at the same time, I don't feel like I'm creating as much cleaning work here either. I don't want to place any additional burden on you all - what do you think would be a fair way to reduce my cleaning duties to reflect the amount of time I am in the house?

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    Agreed that things that must happen on a schedule should still be divided up, but what about things like dishes? Maybe the key is in distinguishing these two types of chores? – Kat Nov 25 at 1:56
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    Just note.. toilet and drain doesn't smell from the bacteria (it has them but smell is not from that). It's from the U drain drying out. All you need to do is pour a full glass of water into it and air out the bathroom. The smell is actually sewer gas... – Nelson Nov 26 at 16:30
  • @Nelson Firstly, the U-bend isn't going to dry out if there are other people in the apartment flushing the toilet, which the OP makes clear there are. Secondly, when I say "the toilet" I mean the room that has the toilet in it. Pee gets on the floor and on the toilet rim, and that is going to smell. That isn't anything to do with the drains, which I'm assuming are okay, as they are in most well-maintained properties. And thirdly, I don't really think minor details about bacteria improve my answer in any way. – Astralbee Dec 6 at 15:40
  • Properly made washroom have a backup floor drain in case there is flooding. I bet you never poured water in that one... – Nelson Dec 6 at 16:19
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    @Nelson In the US you very rarely see a home washroom with a floor drain. I can imagine how useful it would be for cleaning the floor and in case of flooding, yet I have only seen them in public restrooms. – Meg Dec 6 at 19:46

You staying at your girlfriend's is your choice. If you alternatively stayed in the apartment all day, would you agree if your flatmates expect only you to clean the whole apartment?

Think about this another way. Let's say you moved out and got a smaller flat or something. You would have to clean more often, now you don't have to. So just do it!!

I don't know how you guys have split up the chores. But if you feel it's not fair, just talk to them openly about the part you feel is not a good split. Tell them something like "I don't really eat here often so me doing all the dishes seems not right? Maybe we can do it after our own meals? What do you guys think?" I don't know how close you guys are also but this is something you can do with just being straight to the point about it.

But you can't say no to everything. It's not gonna happen. You are still one of the tenants. So you still have to pull your weight.

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