5 Basic Rules for Having Roommate Guests in College

Whether it's a casual hookup or a family member, set some rules

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If you have a roommate, it's highly likely that he will bring over a guest at some point. More likely, you and your roommate will have someone over during the college year—for the night, the weekend, or a day or two. Having a few basic rules in place in advance can help everyone avoid awkward situations, hurt feelings, and overall frustration.

Notify as Far in Advance as Possible

If your parents are coming to visit for family weekend, let your roommate(s) know as soon as you can. That way, the room can be clean, things can be picked up, and embarrassing items can be put away if necessary. If your guest shows up as a surprise—for example, your boyfriend drives up to surprise you for the weekend—let your roommate know before he comes. A simple phone call or text message can at least give your roommate(s) a heads up that you'll be having company for a little while.

Know What's OK to Share

Most roommates don't mind if you borrow something from time to time. A squeeze of toothpaste here or some hand soap there won't bother most folks. A used towel, eaten breakfast food, and laptop surfing can easily send the calmest roommate into orbit, however. Know what your roommate is willing to share and let your guest know as soon as possible. Even if you're in class while your guest eats the last of your roommate's cereal, it's your responsibility to fix the problem.

Set a Time Limit

It's reasonable to expect a roommate to accommodate the unique factors of your personal life. Your mom might call too often, for example, or you might have an annoying habit of hitting the snooze button one too many times in the morning. Having a guest stay for too long, however, is not something you can reasonably expect your roommate to adapt to. It's his place too, after all, and he needs his regular time and space to focus on school. Respect your shared environment and make sure your guests leave before they overstay their welcome.

Have Your Guest Clean Up Before Leaving

If your visitor wants to be a good house guest, she should be respectful of everything in your shared living environment. That means cleaning up after herself, whether in the bathroom or the kitchen. The last thing you need is for your guest to be disrespectful and leave a mess behind. Ask your guest to clean up after herself, and if she doesn't, do so yourself as soon as possible.

Clarify How Frequently Guests Can Visit

Suppose all of your guests are courteous: They don't stay too long, tell you they're coming in advance, clean up after themselves, and respect your roommate's stuff and space. That can all be true, and yet you may simply have guests over too often.

If people are over every weekend, that could easily become wearisome for your roommate(s), who might simply start craving the ability to wake up on a Saturday morning and not have to deal with company. Talk to your roommate not only about guest specifics but also about patterns.

  • How many visits are acceptable?
  • How many guests are too many?
  • What's the specific limit on the number of visits and guests per month?

Being clear from the beginning and checking in throughout the year can help you and your roommate continue to have a good relationship—guests and all.