When you live in a shared space, how do you decide on a fair guest policy?
Some people love a crowd, they truly believe in the more the merrier, and are happy with friends passed out on every square foot of their apartment on a regular basis. Others prefer personal space and would rather check into a hotel than share a room for a night. Of course, there are plenty who fall in between this spectrum and others who can fluctuate between being a rambunctious host and a quiet homebody.
However, it’s impossible to read your roommates’ minds and know when they’re in the mood for entertaining or would rather have a night alone.
In my experience, I’ve felt that other people (not on the lease) have often disrupted my roommate experience. Either a roommate was dating someone I didn’t like, had a friend I thought was messy or obnoxious, or lent our couch out for a period of time that I didn’t feel comfortable with with. Always introduce your guest, even if it requires a knock on a bedroom door or a little extra effort, because nothing feels worse than a stranger in your home. When you live with roommates, it’s important to remember that whomever you bring into your shared space affects them too.
I once had a roommate who had someone stay with us rent-free for the entire summer. And that girl invited guests to stay with her in the living room! Basically, she was too lazy and cheap to find her own apartment, and mooched off my roommate’s generosity. It wasn’t that I didn’t get along with her, we could have been friends had the situation been different! But as a rent-paying member of the apartment, I wanted all the space to which I thought I was entitled. I also didn’t love hearing her practice guitar at midnight. By the time she had made a dent in our couch, it was too late to kick her out, but I learned for the future to create rules with my roommates about long-term visitors.
Some things to cover in a roommate guest policy are:
– How long before an overnight visitor stays do you want notice?
– Does it matter if someone of the opposite sex is sleeping in the living room?
– If someone wants to crash for two weeks should they contribute to utilities or shared supplies?
– Will the guest interfere with our regular shower times or uses of shared space?
– Are you comfortable with the guest having your roommate’s key?
Don’t be afraid to stand your ground—this is your place too, and anyone in it becomes your responsibility.