What Can You Do if You Have Irreconcilable Roommate Differences?

By Sarah Wright

roommate conflict resolution tips

Dealing With a Hostile Group Living Situation

Lucky are the few who escape college and the years after without any roommate horror stories. It's just a fact of life that any living situation can turn sour, and sometimes these conflicts are born out of seemingly minor issues. Having your home life disturbed by roommate strife can be incredibly stressful, and it can have a negative impact on your performance in school and at work. If you are in a bad situation with roommates, take immediate action to ensure minimal impact on your life. Here are some things you can do to solve your problem.

Working it Out

Right off the bat, it should be known that this strategy will never truly work unless all parties really want it to happen. If someone just wants to continually punish the other people involved just for the sake of their pride, you'll never be able to restore friendly relations. Every person has to be wiling to listen to the complaints of each individual in the group, and they also have to be willing to take honest and sincere responsibility for the things they've done wrong, no matter how much they think everyone else is more wrong. This kind of humility is difficult to find, particularly in a group of college-aged kids. It is possible, though, and it's best to take a friendly approach if you want to restore harmony after a conflict.

Forced Eviction

The exit of a problem roommate is an ideal scenario for those in hostile living situations, but in most cases, it's not a likely outcome. People tend to want to avoid moving if they can, so you'll probably have to try to force your roommate to move out. It's a tricky strategy, because it depends on a lot of factors. Is the problem roommate even willing to leave? Does your landlord care enough to take sides? Will any sign of trouble lead your landlord to just chuck all of you? Does the law in your state even allow for this sort of thing to happen? What does your rental agreement say? Are you sure your roommate won't flip out and put your possessions or person in danger? Check to see if you can manage it before throwing your weight around - you could just end up making the situation worse if you make noise about forcing your roommate to leave, but have nothing to back that up.


Think carefully about what brought about your roommate conflict. Did you have any part in it? If you're being honest with yourself, there's probably a few things you could have done differently. Try apologizing for whatever you've done, and change your behavior toward your roommate. Above all, don't make this change or apology depend on any reciprocation of humility - you probably won't get it. Regardless of whether or not you get the apology or restitution you feel you deserve, you might be able to bring about a stalemate that makes your living situation tolerable, even if it isn't ideal.


If you can manage it, the best solution to a terrible roommate situation is to just move out. If you're worried about breaking a contract, a simple explanation usually does the trick for landlords. Some states even allow people to break their rental contract with a simple written notice. You might even be able to find a subletter to take your place. Just find a way to get out of the situation you're in and into a more stable home. This can help you either restore a friendship with your roommate, or finally have him or her out of your life for good.

Here are some additional tips on dealing with bad roommates.

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