Because you can choose your friends, but sometimes you can't choose your flatmates...
Have you officially entered Flatmate from Hell territory? Here are the signs to look out for, with some real-life examples from our community...
1. Serial borrowing
It starts innocently enough with a tea bag. But before you know it you come home to find your flatmate cooking with your saucepans, wearing your jumper and smelling suspiciously like that nice scent you got for your birthday. You also have no idea where your Going Out Pants have gone, and you're definitely not going to ask.
2. Money 'mares
Sharing a place means sharing responsibility for all the bills. Problem is, your flatmate didn't get that memo and things have started to get a bit frosty as they fail – again – to pay their share on time.
One anonymous user knows just what it's like. “Every month she has underpaid me on bills,” they say about their flatmate, “and she's gone through this entire year thinking a fixed rate energy contract means you can use unlimited energy. She's just ignoring my messages and refusing to pay her share.”
3. Safety hazards
Some housemates are a nightmare without really meaning to be. The hazardous housemate just has their brain elsewhere, so they leave the hobs on after they've cooked, or manage to splash water all over the bathroom in hilariously lethal places. Worse still, they come home drunk and leave their keys in the front door so you can't get in, or – the horror – they just leave it wide open and pass out on the sofa, inexplicably naked.
This is one of the hardest ones to handle: the flatmate that steals your stuff. It's usually food and drink, and is always super annoying.
“My flatmate keeps stealing,” says Rleah1998. “I looked in my cupboard this morning and she's drank loads of my alcohol. She claims this is because anyone can take her stuff at any time, but she never has any stuff to steal because she just uses everyone else's!”
5. Not knowing where the boundaries are
Some people find social situations tricky to navigate, and need tolerance and understanding. Others, however, just need to step away from your life for a minute. The ones who barge into your room when you're working, say; or who stand over your shoulder while you're cooking and offer 'helpful' tips like 'hey, make sure you don't burn that'.
Pity poor Sawyer803. “My flatmate talks non-stop. I can't even go to the toilet to escape, he follows me and keeps talking outside the door.”
6. The sex thing
OK, sometimes sex gets noisy, and if you share a place, sometimes you're going to hear each other. It happens, but with a little consideration and a sense of humour most of us manage.
The nightmare flatmate is different, though. They've got the bedroom door ajar, they're making the house shake and the noises (oh god, the noises) can be heard in the next town, underwater, by the dead. As Katenworb knows only too well: “She is so loud that the rest of the flatmates can hear it all over the flat, in the kitchen, in our rooms.”
But it's not just noise. Sometimes it's just icky. “My flatmate had sex with someone in my bed while I was away for the weekend,” writes Qwerty22. Eww.
7. Dirt and despair
Their room is a petting zoo for dust bunnies and biohazards, there are mould skyscrapers in the cups, and when you looked into the abyss that was your flatmate's used saucepan from two weeks ago, you felt a coolly malevolent intelligence look back.
“My flatmate left every single dish she owned dirty,” recalls Aleveltimes. “I had to clean them because I just couldn't stand the smell and I didn't have anywhere to clean my dishes as hers were everywhere.”
8. Being inconsiderate
Basically, your flatmate isn't well-equipped for living with other humans. They leave their stuff everywhere. They're surly to your mates. They come in late, banging and crashing about.
Or they're like golidlocks' flatmate: “Every single day at 7am his alarm clock goes off, and stays on for hours. Not only that but he keeps me up till the early hours shouting on his games. So I'm getting about four hours of sleep a day, every day.”
9. Rage issues
They're wound up tight and flip over the smallest things – often without justification – sometimes leaving little passive-agressive notes for you about eating their cheese (you didn't) or moving their stuff (you haven't).
Or there's this, from Flipper6124: “So yesterday morning the hellish flatmate posted the following in the group chat, 'Right, I left a bag of prawn crackers on top of the microwave last night and this morning they're missing. So who's been eating my food?' Upon returning home, I did the logical thing and checked in the gap behind the microwave. They were there!”