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

Flatmates Team


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

Most share houses are fairly open to having the occasional guest or partner stay over. Yet the first flush of a new romance can see the happy couple spending more time at your home than they might after 5 years of being together.

That change can disrupt the household. Maybe it’s the bathroom schedule. Maybe it’s parking problems. Maybe it’s just that they’re basically living at your place but not paying rent. Whatever the problem, we’re here to help you solve it without putting your flatmate or their new partner permanently off side.

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.

Set the ground rules early

It’s best if you can discuss how the household feels about people having partners and friends over early in your share-house setup — ideally, before you move in. Even if that ship has sailed, you can still raise questions and it’s best to do it before you’re in a rage about your flatmate’s partner hogging the bathroom and making you late for the millionth morning in a row.

Having a relaxed, frank conversation about all your housemates’ expectations for having partners to stay is a good way to get everyone’s cards on the table. It also gives you a chance to find an approach that makes everyone comfortable. After all, everyone’s different: having a flatmate’s partner stay twice a week might be fine for you, but too much for someone else.

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.

If your flatmate’s partner will be staying a certain number of nights every week, ongoing, you might decide to ask them to chip in for the bills. Either as a flat fee per month or based on a percentage of their stay.

This issue will usually come up once you get a bill that’s clearly higher than it used to be and you can tie it to the partner’s presence. It’s less likely to be well-received if you’re really just looking for an excuse to lower your rent by charging the partner to stay, so be reasonable. Asking a flatmate’s partner to pay rent because they’re around for some of the time isn’t likely to be well-received.

Barter Baby

If you feel funny about asking people for more money - get with the program sis! It’s 2021 and we need our future generations to have financial freedom! But you can discuss other ways for the partner to contribute - say, procuring Friday-night beers, cooking a feast for the household once a fortnight, or keeping the lawns short and the garden neat.

It’s important that their contribution benefits the whole household, not just one or two tenants, so try to find creative ways to ensure that the partner’s efforts have an impact that everyone can appreciate.

Sharing is caring

It’s not always the case, but usually, the more people in the house, the noisier things get. This can be a problem for those who need sleep at certain times, or are studying or working from home. Don’t forget, everyone in the household is equally entitled to have people over to stay, and having multiple partners over at the same time, all the time, can make a share house unliveable pretty quickly.

If your flatmate can’t seem to go a day without seeing their partner, consider asking them to divide their time equally between your home and the partner’s place. This can mitigate the cost of having the extra person in your space, and give you all time to rest, meditate, study or just enjoy some peace and quiet.

Move in

If you have the capacity for another full time flatmate in the house and your flatmate’s boyfriend Steve is a great guy, maybe proposition them moving in. Having a couple in the house can significantly drop your weekly rent, as there is one more person around to split the difference.

The most important thing is to communicate and if your flatmates new beau is an absolute dud, then let them know! Sometimes our friends can be blinded by love and it is your good flatmate responsibility to let them know.

Get a room

Discussing the points we’ve made here with your flatmate and their partner may actually lead the couple to realise that life might be more enjoyable if they just found their own place together.

After all, if they’re happily loved up, they’re not going to appreciate you banging on about the power bill day and night. So talking through the possibilities we’ve mentioned here may end up with them deciding to move out.

If you, your flatmates and their boo-thang as a household is like nails scraping down a chalkboard, then chat it out guys. Sometimes the best friends don’t make the best flatmates and that’s ok. If you need help with that issue, then check out our self-help guide on how to break up with your flatmates and still be friends.


Flatmates Team