Freshers' Week 2015: Top 10 flatmate fallouts at university and how to resolve them

If you're a fresher-to-be, here are a few challenges to watch out for if living in a shared house - and how to resolve them

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The Independent Online

After weeks of being back at home, the second year students among you are no doubt salivating at the prospect of heading for university again to get back to living with your mates and away from the nagging folks.

Having spent your first year getting into the swing of your course, finding your way around the city, and finally getting an understanding of the best student nights, you can return bold and confident, knowing there will be no surprises this year. Or will there?

One thing’s certain: if you’re a fresher, there are a few things you need to watch out for. So, to keep you from getting a shock to the system, here are the top ten flatmate fallouts you can expect to have in your first year of living in a shared house, and how to get around them:

1) Who does the washing up?

Expect piles of plates left for several days, burnt-on stains in cooking dishes, and glasses containing unidentifiable liquid. Everybody has contributed to the mess but getting volunteers to clean it up is arduous at best.

Tip: Unless resolved, expect to be eating with disposable cutlery and crockery by the end of the year.

2) Who gets the box room?

Unless agreed before, this is almost certainly going to be a bone of contention because in most houses, there is a room that resembles a shoe box.

Tip: Agree the parameters (i.e. reduced rent), draw straws and – if it’s you – take your punishment.

3) Whose round is it?

Of all of the fall-outs, this one will occur with the most frequency. Chances are, over the course of several nights out, identifying the one (there’s always one) that is reluctant to go to the bar will happen organically.

Tip: When it’s their turn, it’s your duty to make sure they fulfil their obligation. Oddly, it becomes harder to remember to do this as the night goes on.

4) Who drank my milk?

OK, own up: who’s taken it (nobody will)? There are two ways to address this.

Tip: You can either a) go militant, mark the levels on your liquids, and lock-up your tinned food, or b) relax and share the frequently used products amongst the house – chances are, it will level itself out over a year.

5) Who is paying for this?

Probably the biggest blow-up you can expect. With so many bills and so many people to manage, keeping a close eye on this is key.

Tip: Fortunately, there are free tools out there to prevent somebody pawing over countless Excel trackers. Download the app, Splittable, which does it all for you. It will help prevent housemate Armageddon.

6) Whose turn is it on FIFA?

This one is usually for the gaming fraternity and traditionally male-dominated households.

Tip: Winner stays on tends to solve this. Trouble is, there’s always somebody who is much better than everybody else.

7) Whose phone charger is that?

They all look the same and have no discernible markings, except the one charger that is permanently plugged in for communal use. Woe betides anybody who unplugs it.

Tip: Treat all your phone accessories like gold bullion.

8) Who’s taking the bins out?

Much like the washing up, all housemates will contribute to making your flat look like a mini-landfill site.

Tip: Have the rule that when you change the bin bag, you take the full bin out. It works, but you’ll be surprised how much can be forced to fit into to one bag.

9) Whose seat is this?

It is an almost certainty – especially in large house shares – that there won't be a seat for everybody at the same time. While the times you will all be there are rare, they will occasionally happen.

Tip: In this case, don’t reinvent the wheel – shotgun rules.

10) Who wants to watch…?

In the days of boxsets, Netflix, and series records on Sky, the viewing choice is endless and ‘spoilt for choice’ springs to mind. If you can manage it so that you’re all there to watch every episode of House of Cards in sequence - good luck. I suspect your attendance will suffer.

Tip: Best get used to catch-up.

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