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How to set up a share house

By George Hadgelias

Have you ever considered a house or flat share, but don’t know what’s involved, nor how to pick your fellow sharers? You’re not alone.

To help you work out if communal renting is for you, here’s our guide to setting up a sharing, caring share house.

Co-tenancy or sub-leasing?

Share house tenancy agreements are usually either co-tenancies or sublets.

The first thing to decide is: Do you want to be a head tenant who sublets to other sharers, who for various reasons will come and go, or do you want to be a co-tenant who jointly signs a lease with others?

Co-tenancies mean every person who lives at the property is named on the agreement, which means all tenants are responsible for each other’s actions.

For example, if one of the sharers doesn’t pay their portion of the rent, the others must cover this, or the entire tenancy falls into rental arrears. Same goes if one person trashes the house: Everyone will lose their share of the bond.

If you want to establish a co-tenancy, you must apply for a lease via a rental property agency, or directly through a self-managing landlord, who may advertise the vacancy locally. Every person named on the rental application must disclose relevant rental history and income/work details.

Alternatively, if your soon-to-be housemates aren’t the most organised bunch, you might be happier subletting to your housemates, as the sole tenant of the lease. This will allow you to share your house or flat with others on a more flexible basis.

To become a head tenant who sublets a property’s bedrooms to help pay its rent, you will again need to secure a lease either directly with a property owner or with a rental agency.

As head or ‘sole’ tenant, you assume legal responsibility for future sub-letting tenants. And you’ll also need written permission from the property’s owner before advertising for housemates.

Where do you look for share houses?

One of the great things about house sharing is it’s a pretty tight-knit community once you get a few runs on the board. Ask around at work or uni, and check local noticeboards in the suburbs you want to live in.

Gyms, sports clubs and libraries are all friends of the house sharer – although none are quite as easy to navigate as

On the website, you can connect with others looking for a share home or with those offering to share their homes, and can refine your search based on criteria including:

  • What makes the poster good to live with?
  • What do they do for work?
  • How much bond must be paid?
  • What’s your rental budget?
  • How soon do you need to move?
  • What suburb/s are targets?

How do you choose the right housemates?

Believe it or not, selecting people just like you is not always a recipe for domestic bliss. Harmonious share house living is all about communication, trust and tolerance. So, before entering an agreement, make sure you ask heaps of pre-share questions. And ask for references, too.

Questions may include:

  • How do you propose we divide household duties?
  • This is how we share cleaning and cooking – is that agreeable?
  • Does noise bother you?
  • How do you feel about people staying over?
  • Does anyone in this house have pets?
  • Does each housemate have dedicated kitchen shelf/pantry space?
  • We each deposit rent via direct debit to a bank account managed by our landlord/rental agency. How does that sound?
  • Make sure you do your research

    If you move in with compatible house buddies – who are not necessarily your party people – advantages are epic and may include:

    • Saving big bucks by splitting household rent and utility costs
    • Better location and amenity, as sharing often makes living nearer work or campus more affordable
    • Meeting interesting people – super valuable when new to a city, state or country

    On the flip-side, potential drawbacks include housemate noise, mess, chasing rent, domestic rules and inequitable sharing of household chores.

    Always investigate your next house sharer before letting them share your house. Meet them in person if you can.

    Do some investigating. Google them. Ring friends. Check out who they are.

Click here for more information.

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