Renting guide: What you need to know about living in a share house

Living in a share house can reduce the rent you pay compared to living on your own.

It also allows flatmates to split bills and share furniture and appliances, cutting the cost of day-to-day living.

Lower living expenses and rent can allow you to live in a suburb you could not otherwise afford and will enable you to build more savings.

Living in a share house allows you to meet new people, which is especially helpful when moving to a new city or suburb.

The downsides of living in a sharehouse are having less privacy and potential conflict with other housemates.

How to find a housemate

There are several online property platforms and Facebook groups in your capital city where you can advertise share house accommodation and search for housemates.

Always interview potential housemates and inspect the property before moving in. If you are looking at moving into an existing home, ask about the sharehouse’s values (a noisy or quiet house? Environmentally aware or just into partying?), how rent and bills are split, whether you’ll be included in the tenancy agreement and whether you need to pay a bond.

If you are an existing tenant inviting a new housemate to join your sharehouse, ensure they have been vetted and fulfilled their rent and bond obligations before moving in.

How to apply for a share house

Applying for a listed vacant property as a group is generally the same for individuals.

If a new housemate enters an existing share house, you may not be subject to the same application process.

It’s common for interested applicants to introduce themselves online before being interviewed by the current tenants.

When meeting in person, discuss whether the new housemate will be listed on the property’s tenancy agreement and the required documentation from the landlord or agent.

How to deal with conflict in a share house

It’s common for conflict to arise when living with multiple people, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be an overall enjoyable experience.

Establishing expectations around bills, collecting rent, noise, guests, and cleaning can go a long way toward living in harmony.

Some households establish a cleaning schedule so all housemates know their responsibilities and a roster that splits who pays which bills so the burden doesn’t always fall on the same person.

If conflict with a housemate escalates or becomes unbearable, you must know your legal rights for removing a housemate.

How to split bills in a share house

Part of being in a respectful sharehouse includes splitting the bills fairly.

Suppose one housemate is responsible for rent because it’s debited from their account. In that case, remaining housemates might set a reminder or automatic transfer to pay their share by the due date. A simple action like this could save tension and potential conflicts.

Some sharehouses set up each utility account under a different housemate, so everyone can share the responsibility of collecting money for bills.

Be sure to use the growing number of apps that efficiently split bills between housemates.

How to find the perfect sharehouse

The rocketing cost of rent means that one-bedroom apartments aren’t an option for most of the population. Interviewing people and being interviewed needn’t be a painful experience. Follow these tips to find your perfect housemate match:

Get online

There are some great tools to find the perfect living arrangement. Online property websites and apps have a wealth of properties at the touch of your fingertips. Gumtree may not feel as safe to trust, but Flatmate Finders and are good options. With these websites, you can narrow your search based on neighbourhoods, price, the house set-up and amenities. Additionally, you get regular updates and matches, like a dating app. You can also join and search Facebook community groups specific to the area you’d like to live in.

Know your budget and your preferred postcode

Room inspections can be a big, time-consuming mission. You are wading through ads, responding to and answering emails, scheduling more OFIs, and promoting your personality and trustworthiness. You may want to give up with the constant competition and rejections.

Deciding on the area you want to live in makes things easier for you as you can organise the viewings around a few postcodes, limiting travel time. Don’t bother with places out of your budget because falling in love with somewhere you cannot afford can hurt. Stick to the one area and get to know your prices and amenities.

Treat it like a job hunt

Finding a great place is half the process; writing a convincing application and response is just as important. Avoid the generic cover letter. Rather, approach the property contact as you would a potential employer and tailor your response to each ad. Avoid ​cliches and generic details and follow these tips to get the perfect share house:

Appearances do matter

Don’t show up in unwashed clothes or anything you wouldn’t wear for Sunday lunch with your parents. Wear neat, presentable clothing, and ensure you are fresh and ready to wow your potential housemates.

Be discerning

Explore the area and familiarise yourself with the neighbourhood before you meet up with your would-be roomies. Do the community and its amenities align with what you’re looking for? Be equally discerning with the people you’re potentially going to live with. Please don’t go for them because they’re attractive or seem cool. Is their house clean? Do your sleeping schedules align? What values do they hold? Don’t forget to listen to your gut.

Don’t get too discouraged.

Sharehouse hunting can be incredibly harsh, where grounds for rejection are based purely on personality. Eventually, you’ll knock on the door and find a house filled with kind, funny, like-minded people you want to spend time with.

 Know what you are looking for & spell it out

As the person looking for a flatmate to join your house, the culling process should start with a well-written advertisement.

Detail what you are looking for, including the ethics, value systems or norms the household abides by.

Are you committed to the environment and recycling? Or are you a household very committed to respecting one another’s privacy? Conversely, you may be in a very social home; ensure you detail this.  

Someone who loves long showers will most likely bypass the environmentally inclined home or a quiet person in the social household; if there is honesty and clarity in the ad, you are more likely to attract like-minded flatmates.

Most people who have shared a house before have had a terrible flatmate experience, or maybe more.

You’ve got to assume there will be glitches that need ironing out, especially when you’re expected to live harmoniously with strangers.

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