How to Deal with Annoying House Guests

Don’t let an unmannerly house guest break up the happy home. Fight back their annoying habits with these three tips.

Richie Frieman,
February 20, 2011
Episode #148

One topic I’ve been asked about often is what to do with obnoxious house guests. For this episode, I asked friends and family about their house guest gripes, and even thought back to my own personal experience when a certain house guest seemed more like a fungus than a friend. And I say that only because one house guest I had in college literally grew fungus on his clothes because he never bathed. It was disgusting. By no means is this the master list, so as always, share your disaster stories on my Facebook page. So, here are my top three tips for how to deal with an unmannerly houseguest.

Tip #1: How to Deal When the House Guest Is a Slob

Some house guests view their stay at your home as a stay at a resort. They lounge, they watch TV, they eat some good food, they sleep, they talk loudly, and then they sleep some more… and some more… and so on. 

Anyone who has ever had to work for something knows to value those things they’ve proudly purchased--like their home. So when Joe Shmoe decides to trash your house, you have to let him know that it is not acceptable. You can take the nursery school teacher approach and play the “Everyone Cleans Up” song, hoping he’ll catch on--which he won’t. Or you can have a good ol’ sit-down to discuss his lack of proper care for your house. I’d opt for the sit-down.

If you like, you can even play it like you’re the “issue” to ease any awkwardness. Say something like, “Did I mention how much of a neat freak I am? Yeah, I know, it’s wacky but can you do me a favor and just make sure your stuff is all together in one area? And if you move something, just put it back? Sound cool?” This is a “friendlier” way to let them know there are certain boundaries you have that should be followed in YOUR home.

This may not be easy, but look at what you’ve done already for them. If they even have the nerve to say, “You are overreacting; I am not messy!” then that alone should be their ticket out of town. Let them know you keep the place neat and if they don’t like it, there is another couch in someone else’s house you’re sure they’ll enjoy.

Tip #2: How to Deal with House Guests Who Overstay Their Welcome

Unfortunately, you will probably never hear a houseguest say, “You’re right; I’ve been here for way too long, taking advantage of you and really being a bum. Thanks for pointing that out… Can we still be friends?”

The best way to avoid making your house guest your new fulltime roommate is to lay down the ground rules ahead of time. Look, we’re all adults and talking like adults should be easy--even for hard-to-talk-about topics like this one. Any potential taking advantage of your kindness can be squashed from day one by laying out the ground rules that first night. Be honest too and don’t hold back.

[[AdMiddle]Let the house guest know you can’t do this for more than X number of days or weeks. Tell her that you live by yourself or with only one other person because you need a certain level of privacy to function. On X day you take out the trash, on X day you like to clean, etc. You have a life and just because she is staying with you--regardless of how much you love her--you can’t change everything around just for her. That does not make you a bad friend; it makes you normal! Establish how long someone can stay right upfront and save yourself the drama later on. Trust me.

Tip #3: How to Deal with House Guests Who Are Lazy

Lazy people drive me nuts. If your house guest is just staying with you until he “gets back on his feet,” but you start to realize the only “job” he’s looking for is “Internet Explorer” you have to face the fact your houseguest is just lazy.

You can approach this problem two ways. One, you can take the fitness trainer route. By that, I mean shouting motivational phrases at him until he applies for those jobs. If he’s still sleeping on your couch and doing no more than watching Oprah and The View, it might be time to send him packing. If he is willing to take advantage of you, you should have no problem ending the relationship. It won’t be fun, but it must be done. Say something like, “Look bud, I know you need a place to stay while you looked for work… but to be honest, I don’t think you’re really trying very hard. I work all day to pay for this place and if you are going to stay with me you either have to start helping out with the bills--like a roommate--or show some sort of motivation to get yourself together. If not, I can’t have you stay with me anymore. I hope you understand where I’m coming from.”

Let that sit in the air for a little bit for them to absorb and breathe in. Sometimes people need a kick in the butt, and even though it stinks being the one to swing the boot, it’s better than being the one who gets walked all over.

Do you have a great story about an improper houseguest? Post them on my Modern Manners Guy Facebook page so we can all hear the details. As always, if you have another manners question, I’m look forward to hearing from you so drop me a line at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. As well, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT. And of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips.