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.
Starting a new share house is most likely to be a success if you start the process with the right people, and also get all your paperwork in order. Here are a couple of things you need to keep in mind to make sure you’re prepared and meet all the selection criteria.
Get all your paperwork organised ahead of time. This can include your:
Real estate agents, property managers and landlords consider how suitable each person is, even when they’re applying to live at the same property.
This document helps you make a case for why you’d be a great tenant. Mention who you are, what your job is,, why you’re moving, and what you found appealing about the rental property. Be honest about your rent and credit history, too.
You could offer to pay a few months of rent in advance. And otherwise, it’s a good idea to show that you have a track record of paying on time, and that you’ve got plenty of savings in the bank.
Good references can prove to a real estate agent or property manager that you’ll be reliable and able to look after the property well. Your references could be a former co-worker, neighbour, university lecturer, or accountant. You’ll need around three references, and once you get their approval to list them on your application, they should send you a reference letter and their preferred contact details.
If you’re a first-time renter or don’t have a good history of renting or credit scores, a financial guarantor can be a good person to turn to. This can be a family member or friend with good credit who can help make your application more credible. Your guarantor should also be submitting the same application documents as you.
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.
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 flatmates.com.au.
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:
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:
If you move in with compatible house buddies – who are not necessarily your party people – advantages are epic and may include:
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.