With many people too poor to buy and forced to share, flatmate interviews are increasingly problematic. The worst kind of attitude is blinkered and restricted, but of a discreet kind – ‘we won’t know who we want to move in until we meet them’ hides a multitude of prejudice.
Yes, it’s best to be clear from the very start about quirks, rules and standards when sharing. But when people are desperate for a home, and finding an affordable room in a to rent can be rife with anxiety. You’ll live with these people, and will see them every day, encountering their absolute best and also their very worst. Everyone will try and behave, but the mask, eventually will slip.
So here’s how to utterly screw up such an interview or panel, without even trying too hard, and screw it up so badly that residents and so prospective housemates run screaming out of their own house clutching a crucifix (please note – that would be a bad thing.)
1. Be a claimant, and admit it. Give up now. Just sound the interview over klaxon, whereby the prospective tenants drops through the trapdoor – straight onto workfare, no matter how affable or employable. They assume you will hang around, scrounging and weeping.
2. Do as my friend did, and dispute the need to not eat meat in a vegan house – mind you according to her they were rude and self-righteous (not every vegan is so afflicted, I am aware).
3. The desperate ‘older’ sharer, who kept aggressively mentioning her age then repeating – is that a problem? It was, and that’s both wrong and horrible, but common.
4. Being male when women were wanted and vice versa, and the email is sent by an applicant bearings a unisex name. Not much you can do about that, but wastes everyone’s time.
5. ‘Joshing’ with female potential sharers about them doing all the housework. And saying ‘only joking’ when you clearly aren’t joking as evidenced by your ‘comedy’ tie with a naked woman on it.
6. Prospective new tenant arrives and the flat is filthy – or maybe it’s best to establish the nature of how they will live early on. Having said that, the tenant who inspected the flat and ran his finger over the mantle piece with some disdain was rejected.
7. Applicant/supplicant waits outside and overhears tumultuous row between tenants, but enters flat and wades right in. Yes, they did get the room after everyone saw the funny side, but stayed briefly due to... tumultuous rows.
8. Arrive late, smelling of booze, in state of ‘wide-eyed disorientation’ and ask repeatedly what the resident’s favourite club is, and how often they have parties – do the neighbours call the police when they do, and who does all the cooking.
9. Notice the pet cat, and scream, loudly.
10. The flatmate (male) who sat sipping tea whilst farting openly and without inhibition did not get the room, although the tenants did enquire politely if he might have hearing problems, along with other health issues.