When you share accommodation you often find yourself in the position of worrying about bringing guests into your own home, or worrying that your flatmate will bring guests into your home and it will create an inconvenience. While it would be almost ridiculous to throw out that worry altogether by simply banning guests, it is feasible that laying down a few house rules will help both you and your flatmate stress less about this particular topic. Remember, there are many different types of guests that might be invited into your home and having rules for your protection and your convenience is a good idea. Just don't forget that sometimes rules are made to be broken as well.
Types of Guests
There are probably as many different types of guests as there are flatmates, but in general there are four main categories. Day guests (or even dinner guests) are the type that descend on your home for a morning, afternoon, evening or specific meal. These guests do not bring luggage and do not need a place to sleep. In contrast, overnight guests may be friends, relatives or total strangers who wish to sleep in your home for one night only. Out of town guests are usually friends or relatives who have planned their stay with you in advance while emergency guests are those that neither you nor your guest were expecting to have to stay with you.
Rules for Safety
Regardless of the type of guest you are welcoming into your home, it is best to lay down some house rules for everyone's protection. For example, it should be made to clear to guests that the flatmate's personal space (bedroom, office, etc.) is off limits. It should also be made clear that all personal possessions of the flatmate are off limits. If a flatmate is uncomfortable being alone with a guest then there should never be any attempt at forcing them to be together. Guests should also be asked to respect any food or drinks found in the home and to follow the house rules regarding alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
Rules for Convenience
When guests come to stay it can be inconvenient for everyone involved. Setting house rules regarding bathroom times (for example, to avoid a wait for the shower), cooking (whether it is encouraged or discouraged), use of personal computers or other electronics, long distance phone calls and quiet times can all help establish a pseudo-routine that helps everyone cope with the presence of a guest.
Breaking the Rules
As with anything, house rules for guests are probably made to be broken every now and then. However it should always be the flatmate who is not hosting a guest who reserves the right to wave any or all rules. For example, if a flatmate's siblings are often visiting then it may not bother either flatmate if these people invade their fridge or commandeer the television. Yet if a flatmate routinely brings home strangers for one night only then the other flatmate may not feel comfortable allowing these guests access to their possessions. As a general rule of thumb the more someone in particular becomes a guest in a home the less formal the rules will become regarding that guest. This is normally an organic process, however, so it's best not to force it and to let this happen naturally.