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Opinion | If you are going to overstay your welcome as a guest in a shared student house, at least do it properly

It’s fair to say if you’ve lived in a shared house for long enough, you’ll have come to know the pains of living alongside a guest that just won’t leave. Everyone else wants them to - they just don’t seem to know yet.

By Charlie Osborne, Second Year, History

It’s fair to say if you’ve lived in a shared house for long enough, you’ll have come to know the pains of living alongside a guest that just won’t leave. Everyone else wants them to - they just don’t seem to know yet.

Whether it’s a stranger your flatmate befriended during their gap year, or a high school flame on their monthly pilgrimage to Stoke Bishop, there comes a time when you start to feel like these people might not actually have a home of their own, instead opting to drain your boiler of hot water and take up your precious fridge space day in, day out.

This doesn’t apply to every guest, of course, but there are certain rules of guest etiquette that any aspiring halls squatter should adhere to.

The first and foremost is to make an effort! Clean up after yourself. Yes, my flat kitchen might look as if it was caught up in the Blitz, but how dare you leave your mug on the windowsill for any longer than there is tea in it.

The bathroom floor should not be reminiscent of the Avon after you vacate the shower, the water is meant to go down the plughole. Clean your plates, dry your plates, put your plates away. Turn the lights off if you’re leaving the room. (This is actually more of a subtle note to my flatmates than it is to their guests, but keep it in mind all the same).

Making an effort doesn’t just extend to the duties of a house servant, but encompasses your interactions with other housemates.

Know how long you plan on staying

Have a chat! There is nothing more awkward than the uncomfortable silence of being in the same room as a quiet guest. It’s okay to be shy, I know it felt odd the first time I visited my girlfriend’s halls in first year, but if you plan on staying for days on end, be friendly!

Another important rule is to know how long you plan on staying (and make sure it’s not that long). After the second week of our flatmate’s French sightseer taking up every inch of counter space and imploring us all to practice yoga, there was a collective sense of disdain rife amongst us - the original flatmate included. Treat your visit like a weekend city break, not a fortnight sit-in.

This isn’t to say that all guests are bad news, despite what you have just read. It’s always fun to meet your friends’ friends, and can lead to many memorable occasions, especially those that involve the debasing exposure of your flatmate’s teenage misdeeds.

House guests are a mixed bag

We all want to make the most of our time at university. As such, the rules of guest etiquette should extend both ways; it’s important that we don’t alienate the stranger in our midst. Talk to them, tell them why Bristol is much better than wherever they have travelled from, be friendly!

Whilst our temporary inhabitants can make our lives more exciting, or at the very least more interesting, there can come a time when enough is enough.

“If they stay here any longer, they’ll have to start paying rent!”, you say, hilariously and originally to your other flatmates. But as every true Briton knows, never shall you dare express your grievances with the individual in question, resorting instead to your increased frustration until the intruder finally departs.

Hey, it’s not so bad, maybe you can squeeze a slightly overstated Epigram article out of the affair.

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If worst really does come to worst, don’t be afraid to send your flatmate a message about their problematic guest. Chances are, they too have grown tired of hosting the same face for so many nights, and your vocal contribution might be the catalyst required to finally send them on their way.

If that guest is a romantic interest, however, try and be a little more sensitive to avoid escalating the situation.

House guests are a mixed bag. Some ascend from the depths of hell to visit your small flat above Lizard Lounge, others you will consider a great friend by the time they make their departure.

Make the most of them, enjoy it for what it is, and remember that even in the most dire circumstances, you’ll have some fun stories to tell in years to come.

Featured Image: Epigram / Emilie Robinson

Have you had a house guest that has outstayed their welcome?