Living with Flatmates

Flatmate Disputes – Your 5 Step Guide To Solving Disagreements About Personal Possessions

Do items in your household seem to mysteriously disappear because one of your flatmates lives by the saying “Whatever is not nailed down is mine. …”? Your household is not the only one. Many households have members that borrow or use other people’s belongings without permission which can lead to heated arguments and disputes.

While you and your flatmates may not have the option of nailing your belongings to the floor, you can find a solution to disagreements and help prevent the same issues from occurring in the future. When sharing a household with flatmates, disputes over personal items usually occur when flatmates feel differently about personal possessions. Some people are strongly attached to their belongings especially to items that have special significance while other flatmates believe that all items on the premises are available for everyone to use. These differences can cause conflicts when flatmates do not respect each other’s belongings and do not take in consideration the thoughts and feelings of other flatmates.

So, how can your household solve disagreements over the handling of personal possessions? Just follow each of these 5 steps and your household can find the right solution to solve and prevent these disputes from happening again.

1. Separate Fact From Fiction
Before talking to your flatmates, you should check whether the item you suspect has been taken is missing. If you falsely accuse your flatmate of taking your belongings it can cause a rift in your relationship and disrupt the harmony of your household.

2. Talk To Your Flatmate First
The next step is to approach your flatmate in a friendly manner and ask them whether they’re aware that they have taken your belongings and the reason behind it. When talking to your flatmate, you may find that they’ve simply taken the item by accident or they were unaware it belonged to you. Many times, after hearing their story you’ll find there’s a plausible explanation and you’ll be able to find a solution that you can put into action straight away.

3. Finding A Solution
You will find the right solution by looking at the reason given to you by the flatmate who took your belongings. Any solutions you choose should be ones that you can implement yourself like keeping receipts of the items you purchased, labelling your belongings and leaving your possessions in your room or separately from the items belonging to other people.

4. Discuss The Issue With Your Flatmates
If you feel the solutions you have implemented do not solve the issue, bringing up the subject of personal possessions in a group conversation allows you to talk about your problem without pointing fingers or singling out a particular person. It lets each flatmate express their opinion and helps your household find a solution that is supported by all flatmates. Solutions could include changing or setting new household rules like asking flatmates to seek permission before borrowing items, changing where personal items are kept and introducing group shopping.

5. Revise and Implement Improvements or New Solutions
Whenever you and your flatmates feel that the implemented solutions aren’t working, your household should re-address the issue. This may mean finding a more innovative solution. For example, a flatmate that takes another person’s food or clothing without permission would need to pay for the week’s groceries or do each flatmate’s laundry for a week. When implementing these types of solutions, it’s important that each person supports and agrees to complete the necessary tasks in good faith. Alternatively, if the possessions taken are high value items or continuously cause friction within the household, it may be necessary for a flatmate to find a new place to live. Even though your household may not wish to take this option, it may be the best solution for everyone.

It’s important to remember that it’s possible to find the right solution no matter the dynamics of your household. By understanding that people have different attitudes to possessions and implementing a workable solution, you’ll discover that you won’t need to think about nailing your belongings to the floor again.

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