A guide to handling quarantine quarrels with your housemates

Those two weeks do be feeling like two years

You’ve barely been at university long enough to memorise your flatmate’s names, especially Josh (or was it Jake?) who doesn’t leave his room, when all of a sudden, halls are swarmed with the buzz of next year’s housing. The years above warn you that houses go quickly, so you grab your closest new pals before racing to the streets of Lenton for your first viewing.

As the process is even more rushed than the tills at Castle Marina’s Lidl, it’s quite hard to find the perfect set of housemates and even harder to remain the closest of friends after isolating together.

Fast forward several months more and you’ve settled in to your new Lenton residence and then you got that message from NHS Track and Trace. You thought it’d all be fun and games: a few movie nights, takeaways and drinks evenings with your best friends and it’ll be over before you know it!

In reality, you’re one week in and there’s been eight arguments, two food fights over the limited supplies, and that pan on the side still hasn’t been washed up. So here’s your definitive step-by-step guide on how to handle the quarantine quarrels

Grin and bear it

If the arguments are mainly about the Pot Noodle juice left in the microwave, the skid marks in the loo or the mountain of washing up on the side – welcome to student living. Your arguments aren’t that serious: a quick chat with the main culprit(s), or a witty comment when you’re all in the kitchen can solve this. Living with people will always involve compromises, and even if you’d moved in with your best friend from home, you’d be having these small problems.

The sink on a good day

Address the issues

Forget the mountain of pots that’s ready to compete with Everest – you’re Vesuvius. You can’t contain your rage and Covid is no longer the greatest battle your house faces. The arguments are becoming more heated and more frequent. To resolve this, you’re going to need to have a conversation either with an individual or the group, because everyone wants to make it out of isolation in one piece, and when the relationship experts told you communication is key, they weren’t lying. Ask to speak to your housemate(s) and explain how you’ve been feeling (this should avoid them feeling attacked) and suggest what could improve the situation for you.

The passive aggressive approach

So you’re not bold enough to address the issues, but not quite enough of a wet wipe to grin and bear it? The only logical solution is to be passive aggressive, right? Don’t hold back – roll your eyes as they speak, stay silent when they make a joke, park inconveniently on the drive, and if they want to borrow your clothes – the answer is a definite no. It’s time to make that sarcastic remark about their hair you’ve been wanting to say for the past year. Of course, you could get more creative and make a PowerPoint explaining where to locate the bins, or leave a trail of rose petals leading to a bottle of washing up liquid, or perhaps a note with that slice of onion attached that they left on the floor, politely asking if they still want it.


It’s the ultimate alpha move. Words are child’s play, it’s time to take action, real action. They’re leaving their washing up on the side? There’s no way you’re doing yours. They’re playing their rap music on volume 80? You play your Taylor Swift at 100. They’re hogging the bathroom? Whoops! You’ve suddenly developed IBS so you’re going to be spending a whole lot longer in there! Some might call it petty, but really it’s ingenious.

Move out

You’ve tried saying nothing and you’ve tried saying something – you’re still deeply unhappy and there’s only one option left – to move out. It’s the drastic action that no one imagines themselves taking when house hunting with their new friends at university, but it’s more frequent than you think. It’s time to post the house on Buy/Sell and look for elsewhere. Speaking of which, if anyone wants a room in Lenton – let me know…

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• Buy / Sell members come together to deliver Rizla to students in isolation