Earlier this year, two friends and I moved in together and we were really excited about having a girls-only flat. About two months later, one of my flatmates, Kate, started a new relationship and since then her boyfriend has effectively moved in.

It went from him staying over one to two nights a week to sleeping there every night. They often hang out in the common areas, which changes the vibe of the flat – none of us originally wanted to live with a couple. He also works shifts at his job which means he is often in our flat even when no one else is at home, using the internet and watching television.

My other flatmate and I asked Kate whether her boyfriend could spend less time in our flat, or at least whether he could contribute to some bills, but she got upset. Should we ask her to move out? We don’t want to lose our friend.

JH, Birmingham

Mixing friends and finances can often turn into a fiddly situation – particularly when you throw a flat into the equation, too.

The first thing to remember is that the space is your friend’s home as much as yours. Even if you did agree to have a “girls-only” flat, it was quite likely that one of you would start dating someone, and it’s completely normal for couples to spend time in each other’s homes.

However, it does seem that your friend has not been respectful of your shared living space. After all, three of you decided to get a three-person flat, splitting rent and bills three ways, and now a fourth person is enjoying the benefits but not contributing.

You could raise the bills issue again, suggesting a compromise. Some bills, such as internet, are fixed, so you’re not paying more because of the boyfriend. However, your energy consumption could well be higher. You could try showing your flatmate monthly bills from before and after he started spending time in your flat, making a stronger case that he should chip in.

You don’t say why they stay at your flat rather than his. Is your home nicer than his, more spacious or better located for work? Or does he live with his parents, making his home less girlfriend-friendly? Either way, there’s presumably a reason and you could argue it’s one worth him paying for.

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