Frequently Asked Questions


What do I do if someone is being too noisy?

Halls of residence are not the quietest of places. Founder’s regularly has fire alarms going off, for example. There are lots of different people, all with different lifestyles and friends, living together in the same place which can sometimes cause difficulties and tension amongst residents. It is important to communicate and compromise with fellow flatmates. Try informally asking them to keep their music down, or leaving them a polite note.

If a problem persists, you can contact the residential support team with details of the disturbances. If you are disturbed by loud noise and you have already politely asked those responsible to be more considerate, and it’s after 11pm, you can call Security Services on 01784 443063 at the time. Parties are not permitted in Hall at any time, so you can call the same number to report a party.

What if someone is smoking in the kitchen?

Under no circumstances is smoking allowed in halls. This is for health and safety reasons as well as for the comfort of all residents. Any damage or special cleaning required due to smoking in communal areas is the responsibility of those who live in that vicinity. Please make sure that anyone smoking in halls is aware of this. If they refuse to stop, explain that you have no choice but to report them as it is unfair that everyone else may end up being charged collectively for one person’s behaviour. Students or their guests who smoke in halls will be invited to strict disciplinary proceedings.

What if flatmates keep having friends over and taking over the kitchen?

This can sometimes happen. Guests are allowed in hall, but not for overly long periods of time, and definitely not overnight. Occasionally flatmates like to cook with friends and socialise in the kitchen, and this is fine as long as it is not a frequent event, it does not prevent the other residents of the flat using the kitchen and no disturbance is caused. If this does become a problem, it is worth discussing with the person who regularly organises these meals how it affects your use of the kitchen. You may then come to a compromise on the situation e.g. they only use the kitchen one evening a week and give everyone plenty of notice about gatherings by putting a note on the fridge.

It may also be the case that half the flatmates use the kitchen more than others, making those who don’t use it feel uncomfortable and feel that they have no privacy or time and space to use the kitchen.

It is important that shared facilities are used fairly and with consideration. Any problems should be discussed at a flat meeting and a member of the residential support team would be happy to attend and mediate in such cases if requested.

What do I do if my food and drink go missing?  

Sometimes people genuinely forget what is theirs in the kitchen and fridge. Other times people might feel that they can help themselves to other people’s belongings because they won’t be found out- this is theft. In some cases, people may not acually intend to cause offense, but their mystery eating may be due to an illness.

Make sure that your guests and visitors don’t help themselves. If they take something that is one of your flatmate’s, you might be held responsible.

You can try and prevent food going missing by agreeing as a flat/corridor where everyone stores their food. If you clearly label your food in containers it will deter others from taking it. If you live in a flat, try to build community spirit by taking it in turns to cook flat meals, share your cooking skills and knowledge of foods from different cultures. 

Have clear defined sections in the fridge: eg. the top shelf for room one and only one bottle each in the door.

People may take food because they are having financial problems and cannot afford some items. Please direct such students to the Financial Advice Office – College can support students in cases of hardship. You may decide to have a kitty (e.g. all contribute a small amount of money) and share essentials such as bread and milk. Or you may have a rota and take it in turns to buy the main essentials. This only works if everyone gets involved and accepts responsibility but it will save you all some pennies. Buy little and often to spread the cost, avoid waste and avoid the temptation of theft – if there is suddenly less in the fridge, it is obvious what and when something has gone missing.

Throw away mouldy foods and store food items well so that they can’t spill and contaminate other items.

Unfortunately it can be difficult to work out who the mystery eater is, especially if things are going missing from a pantry that lots of people have access to. You can leave a polite note on the fridge asking for items to be returned or replaced, ask your housekeeper if a fridge padlock is possible or organise a flat meeting. You can also contact us and we will issue some notices.

What if no-one washes the pots or keeps the kitchen/pantry clean?  

This can easily happen when lots of people share the same facilities. Your housekeeper will regularly remind you if the kitchen is not kept at an acceptable level of cleanliness or tidiness, and leave you lists of things to do. You also need to regularly take recyclable waste out to the recycling area. You can tackle this by having a cleaning rota or an agreement that everyone needs to clean up after themselves and leave the kitchen in a suitable manner for everyone else to use. You need to keep ahead of the cleaning so that it is always at a manageable level.

Keeping the windows open, pots washed, recycling regularly and disposing of old mouldy food will keep the kitchen a more fresh and hygienic environment.

Remember - all kitchens and pantries are no-smoking.

The cleaners will empty the bins and wipe the work surfaces, but you need to keep the table, sides and sinks clear for them to do this. No-one will wash your pots for you – you all need to wash what you use.

What if I don’t like my flatmates? Or they don’t like me? 

It is possible that you may be living with people who you don’t “like” or you feel that you don’t fit in. Others may have different lifestyles, personalities and beliefs to you. The challenge of living in halls of residence is learning how to deal with the situations that may arise from these differences e.g. being noisier, drinking alcohol, not eating meat, having different attitudes to sexual relationships, and using unfamiliar language. It is important to respect everyone in their unique manner and to fairly address any issues, i.e. how their behaviour may affect you, without judging them and being offensive.

Look for common interests and areas where you can bond and share ideas e.g. sports, academics, food, travel, politics. The more you learn about someone, the more you will understand and appreciate differences, as well as similarities, and what everyone can offer.

We take any form of verbal or physical harassment or bullying very seriously in halls of residence. This is not acceptable under any circumstances. Try to think about your behaviour – is it genuinely funny and acceptable, or is it rude and offensive?

If you are really unhappy, you could try and sort out a room or hall swap. Alternatively, you could try to negotiate a move to off–campus (private) accommodation. Contact the Accommodation Office for advice.

How do I approach a problem with a flatmate?

Determine how you feel about the situation and the minimum you want to achieve in order to improve the situation e.g. you are angry that your neighbour uses skype until 2am and you would like them to use headphones after 11pm; or you are upset that your room mate keeps bringing her boyfriend to your shared room and you would like her to give you prior warning.

Wait until both parties are calm, and approach the situation informally in a neutral setting e.g. cooking in the kitchen, walking from a lecture. Start the conversation in a low-level and gentle manner.

Be clear and concise but in a fair and non-judgemental way – make sure you are specific and clarify your issue.

Use “I” statements which appear assertive and challenging without being confrontational. Don’t use “you” statements as they can be perceived as aggressive:

"When I was trying to sleep last night I was frustrated because I could hear you on skype. I would be really grateful if you could please use headphones after 11pm from this weekend so I can get more sleep. Thank you.”

“When you came back to our room the other night with James, I felt surprised and caught off guard because I was only wearing my towel. I would prefer it if you could please text me in advance so I can make sure I am properly dressed. Thank you.”

Be objective and future orientated. Don’t over exaggerate the problem e.g., “you always”, “every night”, and suggest an opportunity for change or compromise. Be aware of your tone - don’t raise your voice, and avoid offensive language.

If your flatmate isn’t listening to you or doesn’t understand, ask them to relay to you how they see the problem. Wait for them to finish and then express your position again using different words. Remember that you are trying to get them to understand and respect your viewpoint, regardless of whether or not they necessarily agree with it.

It is usually best to approach your concern at the early stages on a one-to-one informal basis. If this doesn’t work then contact us and we can set up a small meeting or a flat meeting.

Don’t isolate members of flats and corridors by targeting them as a group. Be open and honest but don’t accuse, assume or insult. Always be respectful and considerate of one another’s feelings, beliefs and property.

How can I move rooms?

Moving can be unsettling and not necessarily the best solution for you, so we don’t recommend moving rooms as it disruptive, and it can be hard to settle in somewhere new. We would prefer to discuss ways we could support you in improving your living environment and managing any concerns you have. Usually we can resolve any issues without you needing to move, especially if you highlight any difficulties as soon as possible. Most of the time, there might not even be a room that you can move to!  

If you do want to move, and you have given your current situation plenty of time to settle in, you can look for another student to swap rooms with. This is the quickest and easiest way to move rooms, and will be the only option available to most students wanting to move. You can advertise your room and your desire to swap on the Campus Noticeboard (on eCampus) or on Facebook, for example. You may also already know someone who would like to swap, or could keep a look out for adverts posted by other students. Once you have found someone to swap with, you can visit the Student Services Centre together, and the Student Accommodation Office will assess the situation and help you through the next steps (please note, there is an administration fee of £50 each for both students wanting to swap).

It is important to note that it can be very difficult to move into a corridor or flat of people who have already built their community relationships, and you may need to make an extra effort to be involved. It can take a while for you to find someone to swap with, and you will also have to cover the admin costs of moving. The Student Accommodation Office can provide more information about this. 

For severe welfare reasons we may be able to make a recommendation that you are considered a priority to move.  These moves can take time to organise, and will only be offered to those with considerable and significant welfare-related reasons. Once a student is considered a priority to move, they will still have to wait until an appropriate room becomes available, which can unfortunately take days, weeks or even months depending on the situation and requirements.

If you have a serious medical reason for needing to move rooms you would need to contact the College’s Disability and Dyslexia Service, who will be able to advise you further. Usual practice is that you would probably need to be assessed by the College Health Centre. Please note that even if you have medical priority, this does not necessarily guarantee that a room move will be possible.  

Royal Holloway, University of London logo