You won’t get an etiquette manual when you rent a room in house, but there are unwritten rules that you need to be aware of. The owner of the house, or your other housemates, may not have the courage to confront you on issues, until it’s too late and they want you to leave. Avoid basic etiquette mistakes by following these guidelines:
Long Distance Calls
Don’t make long distance calls from the house phone until you have permission. Before you rent a room, ask how you’ll contribute to bills, including the telephone bill. Find out whether you’re allowed to make long distance calls, and the expectations for how and when you’ll pay your portion of the bill. In a world where everyone seemingly owns a cell phone, this may seem like a moot point. However, there are times and areas of the country where a cell phone signal is not available, and you’ll have to rely on a land line to make calls. The best way to control your spending and not add to the owner’s telephone bills is to buy a calling card.
Other People’s Food
When you rent a room in a house, you’ll probably be sharing a refrigerator. Even if you buy a dorm fridge for your room, you’ll need access to a freezer at some point. A major source of contention among housemates is stolen food. Don’t eat food that you didn’t purchase without your house mate’s permission, no matter how hungry you get. Even if no one says anything, they will notice it and your actions can lead to resentment. Avoid the temptation to eat other people’s food by keeping up with your own groceries. While you’re at it, buy snacks every once in a while for everyone to enjoy, or prepare a dinner for the household. Food brings people together and sharing a meal is an excellent bonding activity for housemates.
Clean up after yourself when you use communal areas. It’s poor etiquette to put off cleaning until later, when your housemates want to use the same areas that you’ve left uncleaned. Go beyond that though, and share in the responsibility to clean communal areas. For example, you may rarely use the living room in the house because you’re hardly there. However, you should help clean it by yourself or when you see the owner or others clean it. It shows that you care about the house you’re staying in, and not just a stranger who rents a room.
House Mate Conflict Resolution
Getting along with your housemates is key if you want to live there, especially when they own the house. There are ways to handle conflict in a manner that are not rude. Approach the owner in a professional manner, the way you would the landlord of an apartment building. Bring issues to their attention, and ask their advice on how to resolve it. Offer solutions and try to resolve it positively, whenever possible. If you can’t resolve a major conflict this way, then no amount of etiquette will suffice. You should look to rent a room somewhere else.
Avoid exercising poor etiquette while you rent a room in a house by following these guidelines. It may keep a roof over your head.