The freeloader in the room: five ways to deal with your flatmate’s partner

on 14 April 2016 by Aaron

So your flatmate and their Tinder date from a few weeks back appear to have become regular thing. Good for them, right? Except you’re starting to see their new partner more than them. Not so good.


Most flat-shares are fairly open to having the occasional guest or partner stay over. However, when that occasional guest or partner is there most of the week, it can become a real issue. Rightly so, an extra person in the home means you’re sharing the common spaces, waiting longer for a shower and footing the bill for their use of utilities.

Like with any issue in a share house, open communication and compromise are the best approach.

How long is too long?

This is entirely up to the current flatmates to decide, probably based on their ability to tolerate the extra body in the home. As a rule, if a partner is staying over more than four nights a week, they are more or less living with you too.

1. Show us the money.

There are probably a million ways to calculate how much their partner—your new part-time flatmate—should be contributing. To avoid arguments, confusion or a headache each time they stay, try to keep it simple.

At the very least, the flatmate’s partner should be pitching in towards the bills. Either as a flat fee per month or based on a percentage of their stay.

Asking the flatmate to pay more rent can be a little more contentious, however, and the other flatmates should be weary about demanding reduced rents because the partner is present some of the time. Remember that flatmate is still only renting a room in the home, the private spaces haven’t change.

2. The Barter.

If you feel funny about asking people for more money or you’re just rubbish at maths, explore other ways the partner can contribute to the home. A great one that worked well for this author’s household was the happy couple would prepare a feast once a month for the flatmates. Should they fail possess any culinary skills, a weekly or monthly offering of adult beverages could go down a treat.

Additionally, the partner could be added to the cleaning roster to pitch in with chores around the home.

3. Share it around.

A great way to mitigate this issue is for the loved-up couple to alternate between one another’s homes. This will ensure that they never spend more than 50% of their time in either home.

It also means that their impact can be spread over both places keeping bills and time in communal areas unchanged.


4. Get a place.

While most share homes can easily navigate the issue, it’s important to recognise when things aren’t working. To be fair you didn’t sign up to be flatmates with their partner, yet it’s starting to feel like you are.

When it’s time for the love birds to get a place, let them know. The longer you wait, the more animosity there’ll be. 



5. Set the ground rules early.

A great way to avoid any future occurrences would be to set the ground rules early. Now, we aren’t talking some Sheldon Cooper style roommate contract, just a simple chat about if or when a flatmate gets a partner what the preferred boundaries would be.

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  • Aaron
  • media@flatmates.com.au
  • Aaron is the Flatmates.com.au's Community Manager and PR guy. He is an avid supporter and user of share accommodation, currently living with two (lucky) flatmates.