Living in a share house is increasingly popular, particularly for university students and young professionals. It’s a great way to reduce the cost of rent and other bills, make better use of a property with multiple rooms and create a fun household environment.
However, sometimes disputes can arise between house mates. These can be difficult to resolve, especially if you continue living together. It’s essential to consider this before signing a lease for a share house tenancy and familiarise yourself with your legal rights and obligations.
Important Considerations When Living in a Share House
Are you setting up a new share house? Make sure you move in with people who are responsible, reliable and can afford their share of the household expenses. You can avoid some of the more common disputes that arise when living in a share house by considering the following and discussing them with your new house mates before you move in:
● Who will have their name on the lease? (it’s a good idea that everyone does)
● How will bills be managed? e.g. each person might be responsible for a different utility
● Who will provide furniture and white goods?
● How will money be collected for general household expenses?
● What house rules should be established? e.g. cleaning rosters
● Will the household be communal or separate? e.g. sharing groceries and meals
● What’s an acceptable level of and cut off time for noise?
● What happens when guests come over? e.g. how long can someone stay
A lot of these things will come down to the personal preferences of your shared household. Ensuring everyone is upfront about their position of these sorts of issues is the best way of avoiding misunderstandings and disputes.
Moving into an Existing Share House
When you move into an existing share house, the landlord or real estate agent must legally be informed and give you written permission to move in. Ask the existing house mate about the lease and consider whether you want your name put on it so you have equal rights. Remember that if you do this, you will also be equally liable for the property.
When you move in, it’s likely that you’ll be asked to pay a share of the bond. Ensure you know who you’re paying bond to, sign a Bond Transfer form and get a receipt for the amount you paid. Make sure you understand what bills you’ll need to pay and familiarise yourself with any existing house rules.
To avoid later conflict, try to get a good understanding of the household culture and ensure it’s suitable for you. For example, do you prefer a highly social, communal, activity rich household or a quieter one where people keep more to themselves?
Your Obligations and Rights as a House Mate
As a tenant in a share house, you have a number of rights and obligations you must fulfil. For example, you must help keep the premises clean, not use the premises for illegal purposes, avoid causing interference or nuisance to neighbours, avoid damaging the property and to notify the landlord or real estate agent of any damage.
You also have a right to quietly enjoy the premises. The landlord has an obligation not to interfere with your peace, comfort or privacy. This includes entering the premises unannounced, failing to carry out repairs when required or using the premises in a way that is contrary to the tenancy agreement. Remember to read your tenancy agreement so you understand your specific rights and obligations regarding the property you live in.