Are you a 'flatmare'? Nightmare flatmates cost Brits £434 million every year

  • Flatmares’ are leaving the rest of their flatshares an average of £552 out of pocket each year
  • More than half (54 per cent) say they have been financially worse off as a result of a bad flatmate
  • Not cleaning up after themselves (35 per cent), stealing food without asking or replacing it (29 per cent) and inviting friends over without asking (28 per cent) are among the top ten things that turn a flatmate into a ‘flatmare’
  • 80 per cent of Brits would rather their flatmate was boring but paid the bills and rent on time
  • Barclays Money Mentors offers free, impartial guidance to anyone struggling with their financial situation to help bring harmony back into people’s homes

Brits living in flatshares are losing out on £552 every year due to their nightmare housemates not pulling their financial weight, according to new research.

Equating to more than £434 million* each year, it’s no surprise that more than half (54 per cent) of those living in shared accommodation say they have become financially worse off as a result of an unreliable flatmate.

The new research by Barclays Money Mentors reveals the average Brit has a total of 9 flatmates in their lifetime and uncovers a whole host of irritating behaviours that can cause flatmates to turn into ‘flatmares’. For more than a third of housemates, their co-habitants not cleaning up after themselves (35 per cent) was the top pet peeve, followed closely by stealing food without replacing it (29 per cent) or inviting friends over without asking (28 per cent).

Three in 10 (31 per cent) say they have lost their cool over their flatmate not contributing to shared staple household items like toilet paper, tea bags and milk, and more than a quarter (27 per cent) admitted to going nuclear over their flatmate not paying bills on time.

The research also revealed that £46 is the tipping point after which people will no longer let their flatmate’s debts slide and will confront them over the money they owe – and almost half (46 per cent) of Brits have had a good friendship go sour as a result of living with a friend. Unsurprisingly, two thirds (66 per cent) of Brits admit they are reluctant to live with a good friend in case it ends up ruining their friendship.

Despite the good intentions from almost a third (31 per cent) of people living in flatshares who open shared bank accounts with their flatmates, almost two fifths (37 per cent) need to regularly remind their flatmates to put their share of the funds in the account.

With household un-harmony rife, almost half (47 per cent) of housemates would wait a month to see if things got better over time before bringing it to their attention. On the flip side, a quarter (25 per cent) would speak up immediately and 15 per cent (Q4) would take the pragmatic approach of waiting three months to see if things got better.

When it comes to how housemates voice concerns, half (51 per cent) would choose to do things ‘the old fashioned’ way and talk to their tricky flatmate face to face whereas four in 10 (44 per cent) would take to tech to air their grievances, choosing WhatsApp or text. A fifth (19 per cent) would pick up a pen and paper, choosing to write their issues on post-it notes and leave it somewhere visible in the house A surprising one in 10 (11 per cent) would even look to avoid conflict altogether and ask one of their friends to speak to their troublesome flatmate about the issue for them.

Predictably, two thirds (66 per cent) of people living in shared households found it more difficult during nationwide lockdown in March, with arguments becoming more intense (60 per cent). Interestingly, six in 10 (62 per cent) claim that lockdown has made them reconsider their preferences for a flatmate.

Post pandemic, a staggering 80 per cent of Brits would rather their flatmate was boring but paid the bills and rent on time. Other important qualities for a flatmate to possess post lockdown, included being clean (54 per cent), honest (38 per cent) and good with money (34 per cent).

Over six in 10 (63 per cent) feel that household disagreements have changed over the last decade, with the top ten current issues being revealed as:

  1. Not cleaning up after themselves (35 per cent)
  2. Stealing food without asking or replacing it (29 per cent)
  3. Inviting friends over without asking (28 per cent)
  4. Not replacing key household items when they finish i.e. toilet roll (24 per cent)
  5. Hogging the TV (21 per cent)
  6. Bad bathroom etiquette (20 per cent)
  7. Not recycling/composting properly (19 per cent)
  8. Leaving laundry around the house (18 per cent)
  9. Taking too long in the bathroom (16 per cent)
  10. Hogging the broadband (16 per cent)

With financial struggles coming up a recurring issue, flatmates may want to try a Money Mentors appointment where they can get impartial financial advice – open to everyone, not just Barclays customers, the virtual appointments can be booked online at www.barclays.co.uk/money-mentors

Zainab Kwaw-Swanzy, Millennial Finance Expert at Barclays, said: “Living with others can be tough – something that lockdown certainly heightened for many people across the UK. With financial struggles being something that is often argued about, our Money Mentors sessions – which offers free, impartial financial advice – may help turn ‘flatmares’ back into flatmates.”

With household arguments evident for many, Barclays has partnered with relationship expert, Jo Barnett, to share advice on how to get back that household harmony.

1. Set house rules:

The great thing about living with housemates is that everyone brings something unique to the house. But this also means that you’re likely to have different ideas on what is and isn’t acceptable at home. The easiest way to ensure the household stays harmonious? Set up house rules that you all agree on. Once you have your bespoke set of rules, be respectful of them and away you go!

2. Tech-iquette:

Set up a house WhatsApp group that helps you keep on track with the house rules – you can use this to share reminders for bills / household matters – but you can also use it as a place to bond with your housemates… who doesn’t like being sent a funny meme?!

3. Set up a separate kitty and budget ahead:

Budget, budget, budget. Sit down with your housemates, discuss and agree financial household needs, set up a joint account and ask your flatmates to deposit the required funds. Easy right? Well nowadays keeping track of spending is even easier, sign up to the Barclays app and set up a flatmate current account, this way everyone can keep tabs on household spending (yes, even the financially unreliable one!). This way you can see all of the expenses coming out in real time, gas? Tick. Netflix subscription? Tick. New pair of trainers for Nicola? You might want to query that one…

4. Come into the boardroom…

It’s time to learn from Lord Alan Sugar and call a board meeting. Well maybe not quite that formal! Face to face chats as a group really go a long way to relieving pressures and allowing everyone to voice their concerns, as long as they are set up in the right way. You can always disguise one of those ‘house chats’ by ordering in a takeaway and making it part of a wider catch-up.

5. It’s nice to be nice

Take the time to say hello to your housemates when you see them and ask how they are doing; some people could be struggling without you knowing it. That bakery you pass on your run, why not bring back a cake for the house or make a meal once in a while, inviting everyone to sit and talk about things – a small gesture can go a long way!

6. Set up a house cup:

We missed the European Championships this year, those heady summer days in beer gardens following your team were sorely missed. One fun tip would be bringing in your own flat league, award points for food shops, unstacking the dishwasher and cracking out the hoover. We all love a bit of competition (but keep it friendly!)

Jo says, “Maintaining positive relationships is a huge part of our overall happiness – especially with those you see day in, day out, such as your flatmates. There is no question it has been a tough year for everyone – pandemic restrictions and a lack of freedom has meant people have a shorter fuse – and this has been heightened for people living in shared accommodation up and down the country. My simple tips for how to live in household harmony will help keep rows with your roomies at bay.”