Protect yourself from the “Guest-Roommate Effect”

Protect yourself

You’ve seen it before, the guest who becomes the new roommate, but how do you prevent it from happening to you?  Over the course of your rental period, you and your roommate will most likely have guests.  To avoid the “guest-roommate effect” you should establish a guest policy with your roommate, preferably before you ever have a problem.

There are three general guest policies you can adopt: no policy, a strict policy, or a flexible policy.

No Policy

If you decide to go without a policy, be prepared!  While you may not want to restrict your freedom in your own house, you must realize that when a conflict arises it is partly your fault for not setting some ground rules.  Do not be surprised when you cannot watch your favorite TV show because the guest is constantly playing video games or when you find yourself wondering if the guest uses more utilities than you do.  A lack of “policy” tends to encourage rather than discourage the “guest-roommate effect.”

Flexible Policy

A flexible policy allows you to set guidelines without outlining every little detail.  The policy could be interpreted for each situation.  For example, you might suggest that whoever invited the guest to your house or apartment is responsible for cleaning up after them or that you only offer guests your own food.  This policy allows you and your guests to have a good time while respecting the space of your roommate.

Strict Policy

A strict policy will help you and your roommate(s) know exactly how to handle guests.  You may declare everything from how long a guest may stay to where a guest is allowed to hang out in your apartment or home.  Can a guest stick around after the housemate who invited them has left for work or school?  After how many showers should a guest chip in for utilities?  On what nights are guests allowed to sleep over?  If someone finds a partner they want to see all the time, could they “move in” and start paying rent, or are there limits to how often the partner can stay over.  Keep in mind using a strict policy will limit not only your roommate’s guests but also your own guests!

Whether your policy is extreme or somewhere in between is all up to you.  Just remember, the policy you choose can determine the degree of the “guest-roommate effect” you experience.  Of course you should also make sure your lease doesn’t prohibit parties before you invite everyone you know over to your place!

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