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Tips for first time renters

06/03/2020

How to get to grips with share house living.

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Looking to move out of home to rent a room in a share house for the first time? Whether you’re bunking in with friends or looking to rent a room in a busy share house, having your own space can be hugely exciting. Here are some tips for getting organised financially, furnishing your space on a budget and creating a happy and harmonious household!

Finding a place

Spending your Saturdays checking out potential share houses can be a grind. Make sure you’re doing your research through sites and apps to see what’s available in your area. You could also put a call-out on social media to see if anyone in your network is seeking a flatmate or knows of a share house opening.

Furnishing your space

While some share house accommodation will already be furnished, you’ll probably need to kit out your room with a bed, dresser, wardrobe or desk. Shop around for new furniture that won’t break the bank, or check out second hand stores for unexpected budget finds. Similarly, sometimes you can find eclectic or vintage pieces during council pick-up days.

Questions to ask before moving in

When moving into an existing share house, asking heaps of questions is key in making sure it’s a good fit for you. For example, when are flatmates home? Is the house full of party animals while you’re a homebody who likes early nights? Are they ok with couch-surfers, or are there limits in place? What about pets? Are there any household traditions, like a night per week when you all eat together? If someone uses more WIFI because they’re a gamer, is that reflected in how you split the bill? Make sure you’re comfortable with the household before you book the removalists.

Share house rules

In an established share house, you’ll learn fast how the house operates. Bills may be split evenly and flatmates buy their own food – or they may split food and cook together. There might be a household kitty where you all contribute a certain amount each month to buy shared items such as toilet paper and cleaning products. Apps can be a really handy way to keep track of shared expenses. Similarly, coordinating chores with your flatmates, will help you avoid passive aggressive notes stuck to the fridge about whose turn it is to do the washing up!

Protecting yourself financially

If you’re leasing a room in an existing share house there’ll be a leaseholder who manages the finances. There may be shared joint account for the share house and each flatmate transfers rent money by a certain date, which is then sent to the agent’s account. If you’re paying a bond, that should be registered with an organisation like the Rental Bond Board (if you’re in NSW). When you move in, request a written agreement with the leaseholder that shows the rent you’ll be paying and get a detailed receipt for any bond you pay. You should also pay rent via electronic transfer rather than cash so you have a record. If you’re setting up a share house or a shared home with a friend, you’ll need to organise utilities (like electricity and internet) and you’ll be liable for any that are in your name.

Budgeting for rent and bills

If you’ve never lived out of home before, it’s important to create a budget right from the start so you know you can comfortably cover rent payments, food and your share of any utility bills. That way, you’ll know how much you have left over to go into savings or for frivolous stuff like nights out or retail shopping. Make sure you factor in enough in your budget for paying credit cards off (if you have one) and be wary of using buy now pay later (BNPL) schemes which can send your debt spiralling if you don’t make payments promptly.

Have an exit strategy

Time to move on? It happens. If you’re leaving a share house to go elsewhere or all the flatmates are going their separate ways, you’ll want to give appropriate notice. Chances are, you discussed a notice period when you moved in – this is generally 2-4 weeks. Make sure you get your share of the bond back. You should also ensure your name is not left on any utility bills or on the leaseholder agreement.

Share housing can require lots of compromise, budgeting and the ability to deal with all kinds of different personalities. That said, if you find a bunch of brilliant flatmates, it’s likely to serve up experiences you’ll never forget.

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. This information has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Information in this article is current as at the date of publication. We do not recommend any third party products or services and we are not liable in relation to them. Any links to third party websites are for your information only and we do not endorse their content.

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