Share houses: A guide to keeping the peace

Renting in a sharehouse has its fair share of obstacles, but setting some rules at the start of your tenancy can ensure that everyone pulls their weight and helps everyone get along!

1. Equality in writing

Often in a share house, there will be one “primary tenant” to sign the lease. However, when possible, try to get all members of the sharehouse to sign the contract. This means that all share house members have equal rights to the property, as well as responsibility.

Top tip: Some landlords may charge a fee for creating a new lease agreement. Try to agree early on with your landlord on free of charge lease transfers, so you can easily transfer your new tenant to the contract with no hidden fees.

2. Be responsible for paying your rent

When setting up rent payments, make sure that the burden of paying rent doesn’t fall upon one person if another housemate isn’t able to pay on time. Consider creating a group chat with your housemates and landlord so that everyone is in the loop surrounding each other’s rent payments.

Consider also using rent splitting apps such as EasyShare that make it easy for house mates to keep track of paying rent and ensures that everyone is held accountable for paying their share of the rent.

3. Utilities and subscriptions

Much like rental payments, it’s important that share house members are accountable for both their usage of utilities and services (Electricity, water, internet etc.). Again, apps like Easyshare can be a great way of dividing these costs between share house members.

For subscription services such as netflix or spotify, make sure to establish early-on who will use the service and make sure costs are split accordingly.

If you find a utilities cost creeping up, or one member of the household is consuming considerable more electricity, water etc., make sure to have a conversation with them about either cutting down on their utility usage or paying for a larger portion of that utility bill.

4. Share the cleaning responsibilities

Cleaning can be one of the trickiest parts of living in a share house, and that’s because everyone has different ideas of what “clean” means as well as different expectations surrounding what efforts should be made to keep the place clean.

Here’s some great solutions:

  • Keep a roster/schedule for communal spaces that need cleaning (e.g. kitchen, bathrooms, living room)
  • Try to keep any mess to your bedroom
  • Always clean up after yourself in communal areas
  • Don’t leave your personal belongings lying around

Tip: Try to give your house mates the benefit of the doubt if they leave mess around, it’s very possible they had every intention of cleaning up after them but something got in the way. However, if they’re often leaving a mess behind or for a long period of time, be sure to talk to them about it.

5. Visitors and parties

Every household has different views on visitors and parties, so it’s important to ensure that you’re all on the same page before inviting over your significant other, friends or throwing a party.

If considering a party, make sure everyone is on board and give plenty of notice. Try and have a group conversation so everyone can voice their thoughts and/or concerns.

Also, make sure you discuss rules around having people over. It’s important to manage expectations about having your significant other over, and maybe discuss a maximum amount of nights/week that share house members can have someone over. For people that stay over often, consider organising to pay extra for utilities to cover costs.

Tip: Create a group chat and update your housemates about when you’re planning on having someone over, so that there are no surprises.

6. Food and cooking

Sharing dinners can be a great way of building a bond between you and your housemates. But if not arranged, it can become stressful when food and cooking costs/efforts aren’t shared equally.

Consider putting a coin jar in a communal area where housemates can put their spare change at the end of the day. This can be used to pay for items such as milk and bread, ensuring you’ve always got the basics.

Again, a group chat is a great option here. If you feel like cooking or are doing a trip to the supermarket, consider messaging the group chat and seeing if anyone else needs any ingredients or wants to share the dinner. You can then ask your housemates to send you their share of the costs before you sit down for dinner.

7. Pets

Pets can be great in share houses, but often create a great deal of mess. When moving into a share house, make sure all other tenants aren’t allergic and that the landlord is ok with pets being on the property.

The owner of the pet should be responsible for looking and cleaning up after their pet.

8. Create some traditions with your housemates

Renting with housemates can be great fun when you get along, so ensure to create some time to have fun as a share house. Creating a weekly night where you all share dinner, or head out to the local is a great way to create some fun memories as a “share house family”.

At the end of the day, renting in a share house is all about being understanding, communicating and compromising. So go make that group chat, organise a night where you all catch up to have some fun and understand that things won’t always go how you want them to - but that’s perfectly normal and just part of the share house life.