10 rules for share house harmony
Regardless of whether you know your flatmates or not, when you put a group of people under the same roof you’re undoubtedly going to find things start to annoy you. Creating a happy share house doesn’t just happen it takes good communication, trust and tolerance. Here are some proven tips on how to achieve it.
1. Before you move in
Before you move in with someone, it’s a good idea to sit down and have an honest talk about your routines and lifestyles. If the potential flat mate is a morning person but you’re more a night owl, then perhaps it isn’t going to work. Or you may find that your potential flat mate loves to throw spontaneous parties and have loads of friends around all the time, but you prefer your home to be a sanctuary for quiet time, then again perhaps this isn’t going to be the ideal place for you.
Treat this process as an interview and try and find someone who has something in common with you. Of course if you’re moving in with friends you already know a lot about them but talking about their routines is still important as everyone has their quirks.
2. Signing the lease
Make sure all tenants sign the lease. If everyone’s signature is on the lease it means you have equal rights to the property and therefore equal liability. You’ll find your flat mates will be more aware of treating the property with respect, the rent will be paid on time and the property will be looked after if they are jointly liable.
3. Paying the rent
Figuring out how to split the rent can be challenging, but when living with roommates it is an important process to go through before your sign the lease. Here are 2 solutions to make this process as fair as possible and to help reduce any arguments. Make sure you work this out before you move in.
Divide the square meterage
This is an easy and fair way to split to rent. To get an accurate breakdown, take the square meterage of each bedroom and divide by the total square meterage of the property. This gives you the percentage of space that each room occupies. Then take each individual percentage and apply it to the total cost of rent. This helps breaks down the cost according to percentage of total space occupied.
Who has the most perks
Consider what each person gets for the rent - is it fair? For instance, if someone has an ensuite, built in cupboards, balconies, windows, then they should pay extra. You can assign a cost to each amenity and add that to an evenly divided room price.
Be clear about payment methods, due dates and where bonds will be held.
4. Paying the bills
One of the main points of conflict when sharing a house with roommates is rationing the utility bills and internet bills, because really, no one wants a slice. It is recommended to assign the responsibility to one of the co-tenants as soon as you move in. This doesn't mean they pay the entire bill, but rather are responsible for paying the bill on time.
Generally, you should divide the expenses such as gas, electricity, internet and water equally among yourselves, before paying the bill.
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. If that is the case, it is worth coming to an agreement to ensure they pay extra for their habits.
Undoubtedly saving money is a priority for you all so discuss ways you can conserve household energy plus this also has the added advantage of helping the environment.
5. Cleaning and Chores
According to a realestate.com.au survey, flat mates get most annoyed if the people they are sharing with don’t clean up. This IS very annoying so to ensure this doesn’t become an issue:
- Create a weekly cleaning roster so everyone does their fair share. Perhaps split the roster by common rooms; living room, kitchen, bathroom or by job; taking the garbage out, dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the toilet etc
- A good idea is to create a house hold kitty and spend it on a cleaner once a week, a fortnight or month. This will ensure your home gets a good clean up on a regular basis…plus there is nothing nicer than coming home to a sparkling clean home.
- Keep mess to your own room - what you do in there is up to you. It’s also a good idea to keep your door closed so people don’t have to walk past and see the chaos in your room
- Always clean up after yourself in communal areas
- Don’t leave your things lying around in communal areas for weeks
6. Food and cooking
Discuss how you flat mates want to manage the food and cooking. Do you want to pool your funds and buy food that everyone shares, or do you want to buy your own food and have dedicated shelves in the fridge and pantry cupboard to keep your food. If this is the case (which is the normal scenario), if you eat your flat mates last yoghurt make sure you tell them and replace it.
In addition, it may be good idea to discuss a cooking roster so you all aren’t trying to cook a stir fry at the same time!
7. On-going communication and respect
Communication is key especially when you are living together - it is important to discuss any issues or perceived issues straight away. Any unresolved or unstated problems can simmer and eventually become volatile.
Respecting each other and your differences is really important and treat your flat mates you’d like to be treated.
8. Visitors, parties and communal areas
A lot of people love a party and having guests to stay over, but nobody likes to feel constantly outnumbered in their own home. Make sure you set some ground rules such as a maximum number of nights guests can stay over, or the guest sleeps in their hosts bedroom. It is also a good idea to discuss and agree whether you want your place to become a regular party place or whether you want to limit this to once a quarter or even once a year.
When it comes to communal areas make sure you are respectful of the communal space. Clean up after yourself, don’t leave your items lying around and create a bathroom roster. And if you or your friend accidently breaks your housemate’s favourite ornament, make sure you tell them, apologise and replace it immediately.
Before bringing a furry or slippery pet into the house, make sure you have discussed this with your flat mates. Some people have allergies to certain animals or simply just don’t like them, so give them the option before bringing your little friend into the home.
Also keep in mind if the pet is yours, it is your responsibility to feed and look after the animal and most importantly clean up after it.
10. Create some house traditions
The best share houses have a sense of community and belonging, in other words they have fun together. This could be as easy as setting a regular night each week aside as a ‘family meal night’ when you rotate the cooking and grocery shopping. Everyone should put in to the kitty and make an effort to be home on that night. Other suggestions include, movie and popcorn night at home, local pub trivia night, cocktail tasting night, Sunday brunch, themed dinners, or perhaps roll your sleeves up and create a veggie garden in some pots or in the garden if you have one.
Getting everyone together gives you a chance to connect and chat about your lives and create a bond outside the fact you just share a roof.
Whilst you’ll undoubtedly have to compromise here and there hopefully this list helps you create the perfect share house harmony. Any tips you’ve learnt we’d love to hear them.