Renting Basics: A Rundown of Renting with Roommates
The benefits of sharing your home
The Ups and Downs of Sharing
With capital gains soaring for many home owners in Australia, it can be easy to forget about the rental market. In actual fact, the conditions have been very beneficial for tenants.
In a report from CoreLogic RP Data, Senior Research Analyst Cameron Kusher noted that the growth of rental rates in Australia's capital cities is at an all time low, at just 0.9 per cent.
"The sluggish pace of rental appreciation continues to be attributed to the ongoing boom in dwelling construction across Australia's capital cities accompanied by record high participation in the housing market from investors," he said.
Thus far in our renting basics series we have looked into topics like what you need to put in your application, how to find the right property and what to do if you have furry flatmates. But what about your human ones?
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that our largest renting demographic is those aged under 35 with no dependent children. The years of freedom! Regardless of whether you find yourself within this group, here are the ups and downs of living with room-mates.
The Good Bits
According to the Queensland Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA), before you start living at a property, provided the landlord is satisfied with your application, you and your room-mates will sign a co-tenancy agreement.
This will effectively ensure that each flatmate has equal legal rights and responsibilities, with no co-tenant allowed to influence authority over others. This works especially well if you're living with a mix of people that you know and can trust.
Part of the fun of living in a house with roommates is the amount of time you get to spend with friends and relatives that float in and out of your housemates' lives.You will almost always have someone around to share a drink, to carpool, to order takeaways with and not to mention a saviour who can let you in when you're locked out!
The Bad Bits
The benefits that come with a co-tenancy agreement can also become negatives, given the right (or wrong) circumstances. The RTA asserts that the most important factor that you must take note of is that co-tenants share joint liability. This means that as soon as your pen hits the paper, you're bound to the agreement both as an individual and a group.
For example, if your roommate had been missing rent payments for a few weeks and their debt had compounded, all the other co-tenants, including you, could be held responsible.
To help ensure your renting experience with roommates goes without a hitch, here are a few tips to take on board with payments:
Paying the landlord
In order to avoid the situation where you could find yourself having to fund your roommates rent, you should be vigilant when it comes to the weekly payments. According to Consumer Affairs Victoria, if you request it, your landlord or property manager must provide you with a receipt of your payment.
Keeping on top of this will allow you to ensure that the necessary payment is being met, and if not, enables you to act quickly.
Paying the bills
One of the main points of conflict when sharing a house with roommates is rationing the utility bills, because really, no one wants a slice. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission recommends assigning the responsibility to one of the co-tenants as soon as you move in.
Generally, you should divide the expenses such as gas, electricity, internet and water equally among yourselves, before paying your allocated member the required amount when necessary.
It can get difficult when usage is uneven, for instance one roommate has an electric blanket they never turn off or another who steadfastly streams re-runs of Star Wars each and every day. The South Australian Government affirms that in these cases you may have to come to an agreement to alter how much each tenant pays.