The day that FruGuy and I moved into our own flat, completely free of housemates, was one of the best days of all time. No more waiting ages for the bathroom! No more putting up with other people’s friends camping on your couch for a week at a time! No more fishing mouldy plates and cutlery out of other people’s bedrooms when the cupboards run bare! Hallelujah!
In my time I’ve had both good and bad housemates (and I’m sure I’ve been both a good and bad housemate myself). I had the guy who left the front door open – not just unlocked, wide open – so that some dude walked in off the street and stole a bunch of stuff. I had the couple who broke up three months into a yearly lease, leaving the rent to be divided by three people rather than four. Then there are those people who are just lousy to live with, never washing up, never replacing the last of the milk when they use it, and being generally crap.
And when you think about it, a lot of these things can leave you seriously out of pocket. Besides getting robbed and experiencing a rent increase when that couple broke up, things I can think of off the top of my head that hurt me financially are: your things getting damaged and going missing (CDs and DVDs), kitchen items being accidently broken (crockery) or set fire to (good chopping board), or messed up (kitchen knives and non-stick pans); my stash of eggs, butter, bread and milk magically spirited away and never replaced; good and expensive wine being drunk; towels and linen being borrowed and never seen again. The list goes on.
Things like this might not seem like such a big deal – more an annoyance than anything – but then there’s big ticket things, like being stuck covering the rent if you are the ‘adult’ housemate because the direct debit comes from your account and there’s always one housemate who is late paying their share into your account. Being hit with a huge phone bill after someone’s friend used the house phone to call home to New Zealand for an hour. Or there’s the worst thing that has ever happened to us: just before moving to London we spent two weeks in the city house-sitting for a friend and starting our new jobs. When we arrived back to collect our things and move into our new flat, we found said housemate had completely trashed the house – there were literally bags of garbage in the hallway, EVERY kitchen item had been used and left to go mouldy, and there was VOMIT on the kitchen floor (which I STEPPED IN). Needless to say we didn’t get our deposit back on that house.
So yes, housemates can be a costly affair. I suppose it’s one of those things you live and learn from, but if I had some advice for youngsters out there about to hit the share house circuit for the first time, it would be: DON’T have a house phone; Have EVERY tenant’s name on the lease; Have an overdraft set up on your bank account to ensure any household direct debits coming from your account are paid without incurring fees; BUY A LOCK FOR YOUR BEDROOM DOOR; and don’t leave your good wine anywhere in sight!
Do you have a housemate horror story? Please share below!