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I share a 5 bedroom house with 4 others. We all get on and they are nice people.

As the Coronavirus spread in the UK I was put on furlough (temporary leave paid for by the government, as long as I don’t do any work for my company) by my company and decided to go live at my parents (I moved just before lockdown was announced in March). There is more space down here in contrast to my often crowded house share, especially with most of my flat mates now working from home for their respective companies.

I pay full rent on my now unoccupied room (fine by me, this is my choice, and rent needs to be paid!).

I also pay 1/5th of all bills. Now here’s the issue: I believe 3 of my 4 housemates have their partners living 7 days a week in the house as a temporary but indefinite plan for lockdown. 2 months later, none have offered to contribute towards bills (gas/electricity/water/internet/tax). I’ve been ok with this for the last 2 months, but as I might be out of work until October, I see no reason why this setup with the house share won’t continue until lockdown/isolation measures are gone. So I could be potentially paying utility bills on behalf of 3 unofficial housemates for months to come.

I'd like to ask my housemates to ask their partners to either:

A) contribute a small amount towards bill payments, which would lower mine. I’m not asking for all my £100 per month bills to be covered, just £10 a head maybe? So £30 in total directly to me. A nice, polite gesture I think!

B) split the entire monthly bill payments by 8 people (5 official tenants including me + 3 partners).

I’m thinking logically here but I know this can be an awkward topic among housemates especially when it involves girlfriends/boyfriends!

I did privately ask the only housemate who doesn’t have a partner what he thinks and he disagreed with my proposals... No explanation given I should add.

I am financially stable I should add, even with the recent 20% pay cut. However I think this situation is separate to my financial situation.

Also each of the unofficial housemates have their own house shares elsewhere, and pay rent and bills there. But this is not my problem. In pre-Coronavirus times they did stay over a few days a week each (as does my own partner) and there are no issues. This is a lot different in my opinion to staying over every night of every week.

How should I go about asking them to contribute towards bills?

Edit: all bills are fixed rate I believe, apart from electricity which is on a meter. I don’t believe they have gone up significantly since the extra people moved in. But my £100 is still enough on top of my £500 rent to make me seek help. Some bills come out every 3 months so I can’t really quantify it all.

Edit 2: I’m not prepared to go into arguments with housemates over this, I’m a very calm and peaceful. I prefer to avoid tension in the house but I also don’t like being walked over or people taking the p*ss when it comes to living for free at others expense. It’s a matter of principle.

  • Hey Theo, Welcome to Interpersonal Skills! I gave your question a quick edit, because questions asking us whether something is fair/reasonable/rude etc. are off-topic and too opinion based, see also our help center. But we can definitely help you have a conversation with your other roommates about this! I think it would be helpful if you could add two other details: Whether the bills have gone up/increased because of the partners living there fulltime now, and the harder part: how hard are you willing to push for this? Just mention the idea, or argue about it? – Tinkeringbell May 25 at 14:15
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    @tinkeringbell thanks, edits made – teo113 May 25 at 14:27
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    Looking good, thank you for the quick response! It seems you're already familiar with SE, but just a heads-up: IPS is a bit different so if you're also interested in answering questions, make sure to check out the citation guidelines for this site, which explains why and how answers should be based on sources/experience and not opinion. Good luck! – Tinkeringbell May 25 at 14:52
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    Are you contributing towards bills at your parents' house while you're living there? You said you "believe" these extra people live there full time. How sure are you that this is actually the case? Is anyone else involved our of work due to the crisis? (Are you sure you'd know if they were?) – Kat May 26 at 5:51
  • @kat i contribute towards food shops, cleaning and I help out with physical chores around the house and garden etc. I’m also building them a website. No strict rent payments though. I know for sure they are all in work. The partners however? Less sure. I know one of them is in work. – teo113 May 26 at 9:14
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I see the following three statements as being key to your problem:

  • So I could be potentially paying utility bills on behalf of 3 unofficial housemates for months to come.

  • I also don’t like being walked over or people taking the p*ss when it comes to living for free at others expense. It’s a matter of principle.

  • How should I go about asking them to contribute towards bills?

However, you also state that:

  • you don't want tension
  • all of these extra people are paying rent and bills for their own places just as you are
  • you yourself are living rent/bill-free with your parents

It seems to me the most important of these, in your view, are:

  1. the principle of people taking advantage of you
  2. your desire for peace and harmony

You state that all of this is the consequence of lockdown due to COVID-19. That being the case, the pandemic is the larger, overruling umbrella issue over which no one has any control. All of you are making the best of a very challenging situation. All of you are paying bills for services and resources you are not directly using. However, all of you are using these services and resources somewhere in the system.

Since you don't want to disturb the peace and harmony of your house share and cause tension, ask yourself:

  • Are people actually walking over me in this unprecedented situation, given that all of us are paying bills somewhere and living free elsewhere?
  • Am I violating my principles by not addressing the issue with my housemates, but instead paying the bills as I have been doing, since I can live rent and bill-free with my parents, too?

If your answer to the above is "Yes," you might have to be willing to compromise on the peace and harmony element and prepare yourself for a bit of tension because I can see no other way to raise this sensitive and awkward issue. However, if you are prepared to be reasonable and cooperative there is no reason to think the tension cannot be tolerated; peace and harmony need not be seriously disturbed. Inform them of your feelings stated at the opening of this post, something like this:

I could be potentially paying utility bills on behalf of 3 unofficial housemates for months to come. I don’t like being walked over or people taking the p*ss when it comes to living for free at others expense. It’s a matter of principle for me.

Pause to see if they are open to communication on the topic. If so, present your plans for how people might contribute. Remember that being reasonable and cooperative means to listen to what they have to say, taking their arguments into consideration, weighing all sides of the story, and coming to a mutual agreement all sides feel comfortable with. Some people may not be financially able to contribute.

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