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I am living with a very messy flatmate. It is a shared living arrangement, where we both pay rent to the landlady.

Few instances:

  • Taking out trash: She never took out the trash. Initial agreement was that we would take up the responsibility alternately. But even when I would specifically tell her that I have taken out the trash today, can you do it tomorrow, she would say "OK", but next day would just make herself unavailable (sleeping/busy in washroom/have to leave early for work). About a week later, I started keeping separate dustbin for myself and informed her so.
  • Drinking water: We are supposed to call and pay for drinking-water cans. This responsibility also we decided to share alternately. But I started noticing that when its her turn, she would just put the money(after multiple reminders) at a common place making it my responsibility to call and get the can delivered. I didn't want any hassles with things such as 'drinking water'(it had happened on certain occasions, that our drinking water can would be almost empty, she would still not bother to make the call). I started keeping this separate as well and informed her so. When we had this conversation and I told that going forward I would be keeping my can separate, then she asked me for the shop's contact number which delivers the can.
  • Leaving the lights/fan on: She used to sleep with the lights on in common area (the switch was in her room and she sleeps much much later than me, so it would not be proper if I turned it off when I got to sleep). Initially I thought maybe she is scared to sleep in dark. But after asking her, her response was "Is it so?! I fall asleep talking on phone, so never realized." Though, since then she makes sure to turn if off before sleeping, I have seen on multiple occasions fan/geyser left on, even when not in use. This bothers me as it's wasteful and also we share 50-50 on electricity bill.

There are many other occasions where I feel maybe she is just careless like - talking very loud on phone till late in night, not opening the front gate when someone rings the doorbell (though her room is closer to the main gate) but I don't want to discuss each and every petty issue. We are both adults and I feel like I am being a "nag".

My current problem is regarding the shared washroom. As with other things, understanding was that keeping it clean would be a shared responsibility (she had agreed to sharing responsibilities in presence of the landlady), but lately it has become very dirty with her hair clogging up the drain. When I asked her, she flat-out said "We shouldn't be doing it, it's landlady's responsibility". I tried to explain her that we are supposed to clean up after ourselves, the landlady is not responsible for our trash/washroom. (The landlady lives about 15 kms away in the same city).

I have been living in shared arrangement for a few years and had various roommates but I am not sure how to deal with this. It has been few days already since the conversation and she has made no effort to clean. After her response I don't think there is any point talking to her (and I want to keep that to a minimum going forward for the sake of my mental peace).

My options at this point:

  1. Clean it myself: I am very reluctant to do this since we both use it, and I don't think there'll be any contribution from her (except more mess). Had i been the sole user, I would've no problem in cleaning.
  2. Talk to landlady: Ask her if she has any solution, not sure how fruitful it'll be though. I don't think asking her to come and clean is right/practical.
  3. Look for another living arrangement: It would be my last option. It would be a shame to let go of this flat. It's in a good residential area, walking distance from work, budget-friendly.

Any other options/suggestions that I might be over-looking are appreciated.

  • what kind of a lease are you on - is it possible to get out of this living arangement early? – Alex Robinson Oct 31 at 10:27
  • I can get out of this living arrangement on a month's notice. However as mentioned in Option 3, I want to keep this as last resort. – JaneDoe Oct 31 at 10:48
  • Welcome to IPS.SE! As it stands your question is a "What should I do?" question, which is off-topic here as it can lead to some pretty opinionated answers. To get better responses, could you narrow down your question to a specific goal? Do you want to confront your roommate (maybe with an ultimatum) or do you want to escalate and bring the landlady into the discussion? Maybe something else you'd really prefer? Picking something specific helps us help you. :) – Lux Claridge Oct 31 at 15:25
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    Maybe you should think more about option 2: talk to the land lady so that she warns the flatmate and ends her contract if nothing changes. If this is an acceptable outcome for you, I'm sure this community can help you on how to approach the land lady effectively. – Arsak Oct 31 at 15:46
  • I am going to accept this comment by @Arsak, as it worked for me. The landlady asked her to clean her mess and she did so. – JaneDoe Nov 4 at 4:57
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All three options, in that order...

It's okay to be the adult in the room—or the flat. The problem of "life with other people" won't go away; learn to overcome it now.

Consider each of your three options you gave at the end of your question:

Clean it myself: I am very reluctant to do this since we both use it, and I don't think there'll be any contribution from her (except more mess). Had i been the sole user, I would've no problem in cleaning.

Your stated drawback is for this option is that you wouldn't get "any contribution from her". The only reason that matters is if you are too concerned with her maturity. As thoughtful as that is, other people's choice to be mature isn't your responsibility. In your situation, it may be weighing you down.

If you can clean it yourself, do it. Don't clean her stuff, just keep hers off of yours and keep your own stuff clean. If she sets out the money for the water, take the hint and make the call yourself every time.

On a personal note, I just came off a flight and realized how much the airline staff had to clean up after me—at the airport and on the plane! Most supervisors, managers, and leaders of any kind spend most of their time cleaning up after the rest of society. Leaders clean up other people's messes without a thanks, maybe you've been called to lead. Lean into it.

Talk to landlady: Ask her if she has any solution, not sure how fruitful it'll be though. I don't think asking her to come and clean is right/practical.

After you've gotten into a groove with being able to survive this routine, let the landlady know what's going on. Don't ask for help. Don't ask for change yet. Tell her your plan so far and that you haven't fully decided what to do in the future. She needs to know.

Secondarily, if you are the one making the calls for all the water, that will give you some credibility with the landlady. You need to be in her good graces! Landlords and landladies love people who know how to clean up and take responsibility. The "emotional bank balance" from the time you put in will pay back huge dividends.

Look for another living arrangement: It would be my last option. It would be a shame to let go of this flat. It's in a good residential area, walking distance from work, budget-friendly.

Be ready for it. Keep open for a new flatmate. It really is magical—if you take the lead by cleaning up after others, your attitude elsewhere might change to give you that that "bring your own sunshine" reputation with others and new flatmates might start approaching you without you asking.

Any other options/suggestions that I might be over-looking are appreciated.

...I'd say "all three" is that other option. Good luck with this! Anyone going anywhere has been there.


Background: As per the discussion...

I have had difficult roommates, though I won't spread their business here. I have also been difficult because people are difficult by definition. Learning to live with each other makes us patient and stronger.

I also counseled a friend who needed to actually move out of a threatening drug situation with an abusive landlord and tennant. That had crossed a line when it was necessary to leave, this doesn't seem to be there yet. I have also been having to "clean up" after so many other people being in Asia 11 years and 10 years in food service before that. Given that background, this is my counsel based on the information given. Good luck!

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    Hey Jesse! Do you have experience with dealing with a roommate? Or is your answer based on something else? If so, what is it? – Ælis Nov 1 at 6:25

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