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Flatmates and Family Visits

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 30 Mar 2012 | comments*Discuss
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Living with a flatmate means making many different compromises, but most flatmates are very accepting of when a roommate has a family member come to visit. While a flatshare can often be a bit of a squeeze, flatmates must remain flexible enough to welcome a member of their flatmate’s family. To this end, setting some ground rules about family visits, as distinct from visits from friends or romantic partners, is usually a good idea for those involved in a flatshare. Notification of impending visits, expectations for cooking and cleaning, standard length of visits and responsibilities for the close of visits are all issues that should be discussed to make sure that all flatmates are on the same page regarding family visits.

Notification of Impending Visits

When a flatmate has a family member coming to visit it is only polite to give other flatmates, specifically a direct roommate, as much advanced notice as possible. In general a good rule of thumb would be for each flatmate to agree to a minimum of 24 hours notice before a family member comes to visit so that no matter what their schedule they can arrange their time or their possessions however they see fit before the visit. If a family member is hoping to stay overnight then more advanced notice might also be appropriate.

Expectations for Cooking and Cleaning

It should go without saying that the flatmate who has a family member visiting should be the one to shoulder most of the responsibility for cooking and cleaning before and during the visit. However, other flatmates might want to consider pitching in with tidying up common areas or creating a family style meal for everyone in a show of good will. If nothing else, flatmates who pitch in can then more rightly expect some measure of the same when they have family members come to see them.

Standard Length of Visits

The acceptable standard length of a visit will likely differ from guest to guest and depending upon the particular personalities of the flatmates involved. However, flatmates who expect a little bit of extra time for their immediate family members are not out of order. This does not mean that having a sibling come to stay for a month is necessarily appropriate, but it wouldn’t generally be considered inappropriate for a sibling to stay for a weekend or a few days.

Responsibilities for the Close of Visits

Seeing family members off should be the responsibility of the flatmate who has hosted them. Asking other flatmates to be responsible for locking up after relatives, taking them to public transportation or tidying up once they have gone is not really acceptable. However, if a flatmate offers to do so then it may be fine, but it should never be expected for another flatmate to be in charge of the close of another flatmate’s family visits.

Visits from a flatmate’s family members are often unavoidable. To ensure that no one feels left out or taken advantage of, flatmates may want to consider setting ground rules regarding all such visits. Agreeing on notification periods before a family visit, expectations regarding cooking and cleaning for the family members, acceptable length of such visits and the responsibilities associated with seeing off family members are all issues that are best discussed before family members begin to visit.

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