Roommate Rehab: 5 Dispute Resolution Strategies

in Roommates on by

Dispute resolution is an essential part of sharing an apartment with roommates. If you fail to effectively communicate with your roommates, you could come to dread being in your own home. Slacking roommates who don’t take their responsibilities seriously or pay on time could even get you kicked out of your apartment if you find yourself short on funds. Roommates who always argue make relaxing at home virtually impossible. Don’t just ignore problems with your roommates; nothing can be resolved without effective communication. Follow these strategies to start changing your living situation today.

1. Sit Down for a Meeting

Your roommates may not even know that there’s a problem. Rather than resenting them, you need to clearly speak to them about the issue. Ask your roommates to sit down in the living room or kitchen-or even someplace outside of the apartment-with you for an important discussion. You may feel nervous about broaching the subject, but if your roommates are kind people with whom you get along for the most part, they will understand your attempt at dispute resolution.

2. Keep Anger and Negativity Out of It

The most important dispute resolution tip is to keep your angry and negative feelings out of your discussion with your roommates. You want to aim for an open discussion, not a confrontation. Keep accusatory words and obvious bias out of the picture. Don’t make the discussion about you feeling slighted, but about what’s fair to all of you who live there.

3. Let Your Roommates Speak for Themselves

If your roommates didn’t even realize that there was a problem, it may be because they’re used to living at home, where their parents cleaned up after them and they had few responsibilities. Let your roommates offer their own solutions to the discussion. Even if you don’t agree with them, your roommates should be allowed to speak for themselves.

4. Find a Mediator

If the problem concerns all of you, you may consider asking a mutual friend (not an exclusive friend, as that won’t seem fair) to listen to everyone’s side of the story and offer his or her solutions to solving the problem. If the discussion hinges on a fight between your roommates that doesn’t directly involve you, you could act as the mediator.

5. Put It in Writing

Once you have agreed on a way to resolve the dispute, write down your joint solution and ask all of your roommates to sign it. This may be a simple contract or it may be a detailed schedule of division of chores, payment due dates and agreed upon consequences if someone fails to meet his or her responsibilities.

Dispute resolution among roommates can be a tense situation, but if you follow these strategies, you should be well on your way to resolving the conflict. If your roommates still prove to be uncooperative, it may be time for you to consider moving out.

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