Conflict Resolution

Neighbor Relationships

You can create a friendly relationship with your neighbors by following a few guidelines:

  • When you move in, be friendly and greet your neighbors when you meet outdoors.
  • If you feel comfortable, provide your telephone number to your neighbors so they can contact you with any concerns they may have.
  • Ask if there is a Safe Streets or Neighborhood Watch program you can participate in.
  • If applicable, discuss parking arrangements so the neighbors don't get angry when you “take their spot.”
  • During winter and summer breaks, you can let your neighbors know when you will be out of town so they can keep an eye on your property.
  • Be a responsible host by keeping your parties to a controllable amount of people. Inform your neighbors when you are having a party and ask them to contact you directly if it is getting too loud, rather than calling the police first.
  • If a problem occurs, talk with your neighbors first. Be specific when planning strategies to overcome the situation. If problems continue, contact your landlord or property manager, or the Off-Campus Student Services Office.

For more information you can read the Party Policies in The Logger Student Handbook, or the Party Planning Guide from the Substance Abuse Prevention Advisory Committee. You can also view the Tacoma Municipal Code online. In particular, see Volume II, Title 8, chapter 12, section 60 for information about public disturbances and noise levels.

Policy for Neighbor Complaints

The following is a very brief summary of the university's neighbor complaint policy. Please refer to the Policy for University Response to Neighbor Complaints in The Logger Student Handbook for more detailed information.

While the university treats off-campus students as private citizens responsible for their own behavior, they also reserve the right to discipline students for seriously or chronically offensive behavior off-campus that violates university policy, or harms the reputation of the university. All complaints received should be referred to the Community Relations Coordinator. Generally, neighbors will be expected to have talked to students about their concerns before the complaint process will be initiated. The university will not contact landlords on behalf of neighbors and will not be the source of landlord names or contact information.

Housemate Relationships

If you've ever shared a room with a sibling or roommate, you know that communication and expectations are important to developing and maintaining a good relationship. This is even more critical when you add the factors that come with living off campus, including the legal responsibility of signing a lease together, dividing household chores, and paying bills.

Negotiating "house rules" early on can help to head off problems that might develop later. As official or corny as it may sound, scheduling a house meeting and developing a written agreement can help to head off problems that could develop later on. Clear communication and compromise are essential to negotiating a successful agreement, so don't be afraid to voice your feelings in a respectful way. The following topics should be a part of your discussion:

  • Use of personal belongings 
    Who can use things that belong to one person, like the stereo, TV, dishes? Can your housemates' friends use your belongings?
  • Hosting parties
    Do you want to have parties? When will they be scheduled? Who will clean up? Who will talk to the neighbors? You may need to have this discussion each time you have a party.
  • Guests 
    Do you want to know when guests are expected? Can guests use the common areas? Are long-term guests ok?
  • Chores 
    Who will do the dishes, the laundry, take out the trash, vacuum, clean the bathroom and kitchen?
  • Use of phone and internet 
    Are time limits necessary? How will you divide up long distance calls, if applicable?
  • Bills 
    What name are the bills under? When do bills need to be paid each month? If you need to reimburse one another, work out an agreement.
  • Food and shopping 
    Will you share food and shopping responsibilities or will each person be responsible for their own food? How will you keep food separate, in that case?
  • Smoking 
    Is it ok inside the house? In common areas?
  • Pets 
    If your rental agreement allows pets, who will take care of the pets? What if one of the housemates wants to get a new pet?
  • Other details 
    Pet peeves, musical tastes, people you'd rather not talk to, emergency contact information.

As the year goes by, you may need to revisit the agreement, particularly if you and your housemates find that some things aren't working well. For this kind of discussion schedule a convenient, agreed-upon time. Don't start the conversation as someone is on his/her way out the door. Don't tiptoe around issues - be respectful and direct. Use the written agreement as a basis for the conversation, and revise it if necessary.

Consider setting aside time each week or month for housemate bonding, particularly if classes and activities keep people on campus for much of the time. These times can be good for relieving stress and reconnecting with one another. They also make it possible for regular discussions about how things are going in the house, rather than waiting for any tension or frustration to build!