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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

You Know We’re Right: Reasons for advance roommate agreements

Published: December 2, 2011
Section: Features

Dear Leah and Morgan,

I have never had any problems with roommates in the past. After the housing lottery left my friends and me with less-than-ideal numbers, we decided to move off campus together. Everything was great at the beginning of the semester, but as the year has progressed I have been having problems with a couple of my housemates.

I have tried to be as accommodating as possible and have made concession after concession for the last three months and it is getting too be too much.

Recently I proposed a compromise in which the housemates get something they want and I get something I want.

I would move out to end the problem, but even if I could get into university housing I’d still be on the hook for rent through August. I don’t want to be a source of infinite discord in my house, but I can’t keep being nice and in return treated like a second-class citizen; if even a citizen. Do you have any ideas on how I can resolve stuff peacefully?


Sick, Tired and Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,

We’re so sorry to hear about your predicament. Living with friends can be difficult, as it is hard to balance friendship with housemate relationships.

Luckily for you, we have a few suggestions for you on how to make things a little better.

Keep an eye out

Moving back to campus might seem like a longshot, but it’s not impossible! It’s uncommon, but not unheard of for people to withdraw from housing at the midyear point. It’s always worth keeping an ear to the ground for anyone looking to move off campus, or anyone coming back from abroad whose housing plans fall through.

Talk to them

Sit down with your housemates and have a very frank discussion about how you’re feeling. In order to make sure your feelings are communicated clearly and completely, try to use “I statements” when confronting them.

It’s easy to get emotional and personal in these situations, so be sure to keep your cool and remain rational. Try to keep it from getting too personal, make sure they understand exactly why you’re upset, and that you’re partly to blame for the miscommunications. Even if you don’t think that’s true, you are partly at fault for letting things progress to this point. It also can’t hurt to admit some culpability.

Try Compromise 2.0

Without knowing the details, we can’t tell you why they weren’t willing to take your compromise. After you communicate your concerns to your housemates, try to reach a new compromise. Hopefully, once they know how upset you are, they will be more willing to try to work things out. Remember that compromise is a two-way street, it can never hurt to phrase it in a way that sounds like you’d be giving up way more than they would.

Starting fresh

In the future, remember that making agreements and setting boundaries with roommates is incredibly important. Remember that roommate contract your CA made you do your first year? Think that. It’s tough to set boundaries with your friends, but it will benefit you all in the long run. Come up with all of the hypotheticals: how you’ll share and pay for food, how you’ll pay rent and utilities, and, most importantly, how you’ll collect if your friends owe you money.

It’s way easier to establish strict house rules and loosen up as the year progresses than it is to try to establish strict rules when there are none in place.

We hope our suggestions help and that the situation gets better!

Best of luck!

Peace, love and good advice,

Leah and Morgan

Have questions that you want answered by the lovely ladies of The Hoot? Submit your questions to or at! They will be answered by Leah Finkelman ’13, Features Editor, and Morgan Gross ’14, Impressions Editor. We’re so excited to hear your questions!