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House Rules for Roommates

by Erica Loop

The moving van is packed and headed to a new shared house. You're about to move in with a new roommate and need to set boundaries right away. Creating house rules is an essential first step in order to prevent disputes and disruptions. From finances to friends, house rules can keep the peace and create a calm living environment.

Financial Policies

Rent, utilities, food, decor and other expenses can quickly pile up. Organize the house finances by setting rules that dictate who owes how much, for what and when. These rules cut down on having to nag your roomy for money he owes for the bills, suggests Fredric Neuman, director of the Anxiety and Phobia Treatment Center, in his article "Getting Along with Roommates" on the Psychology Today website. Each roommate should know when to pay whom without anyone asking for money. Decide if one of you will write a rent check and collect money from everyone else, who will pay which utility bill and how you will split your grocery budget.

Friends, Guests and Boundaries

Setting rules for who can -- and can't -- come to visit or stay overnight is a must. If your roommate's girlfriend sleeps over every night, you and any other roommates may feel like she's getting a free ride. Set policies for hours that friends or other guests can come to visit and what is acceptable for sleepovers. For example, you -- and your roommates -- may decide that it is not acceptable for girl or boyfriends to spend the night, but a friend or family member who is visiting for a few days from out of town can. You also need to set boundaries with roommates when it comes to privacy and comfort. Address noise issues -- such as loud music or shouting guests -- by deciding what levels are tolerable and when.

Chore Chart

Someone needs to clean the bathrooms, do the dishes, sweep, vacuum, dust, take out the garbage and do all of the other chores necessary to keep the house clean. Instead of letting the trash pile up or expecting that one person will take care of the cleaning, create house rules for who does what. Create a chore chart that clearly defines each roommate's responsibilities. For example, you're in charge of taking out the trash, cleaning the kitchen and vacuuming and your roommate must sweep the floors, clean the bathroom and dust.

Privacy and Shared Spaces

Living with other people -- even if they're close friends -- isn't always easy when it comes to privacy issues. Even if you're extremely social, you'll want space at times. Create rules that dictate personal and public spaces. For example, bedrooms are off limits to other roommates unless they are asked in, but the living room and kitchen are fair game at any time.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

  • Catherine Yeulet/iStock/Getty Images