Shared accommodation and tips for successful shared housing
Shared accommodation can be a good experience for those who wish to live independently and meet new people. Shared accommodation occurs when you either move into a house that is occupied by other people or you agree to rent a property with other people. Sharing a house with other people is a very cost effective way to live because you share the costs of living with other people.
While shared accommodation is a great alternative to living by yourself, it can be complicated. You need to know exactly what you are looking for with your accommodation arrangements. There are some very important things you will need to consider when you are thinking about share accommodation, which can all be found at the Redfern Legal Centre’s guide to shared housing.
Do not pay anyone any money until you inspect the property and are organising to move in
Some people may ask you to pay money before you look at the room or property. This is not acceptable and is illegal. You are not required to pay any money until you have inspected the property and are happy that this is the place that you will move into, nor are you ever obligated to live in a property you have inspected.
Make sure you are given a receipt for all money that you pay
When you agree to the amount of rent that is to be paid you need to also agree to how you will be paying the rent. When you pay any money you should receive a receipt showing the amount, the date and what the money is being paid for.
If you are signing a contract for your accommodation you are not required to pay for a bond on the premises if you are not appearing on a lease. If you pay a bond on a private rental you are still entitled to have that money lodged with NSW Fair Trading to ensure that it is kept in a safe place.
If you are paying electronically (i.e., by bank transfer), you should ensure you have the correct description for the transfer e.g., rent, bond, etc.
Make sure the living conditions are suitable for you and are considered acceptable
It is not acceptable to pay rent and:
- Not have a bedroom to sleep in;
- Sleep on a mattress on the floor;
- sleep in a living room, bathroom, shed, garage, pantry, or laundry;
- share a room with more than one other person;
- have a sleep roster where multiple people share one room on a rostered basis.
It is common practice that one bedroom can normally accommodate 1 to 2 people depending on the size. You should be provided with your own personal space and the ability to be able to live securely. For the money that you pay to live in these conditions you could pay for your own room with better facilities. If you find yourself in an undesirable or inappropriate situation like this please contact Housing Services immediately.
Understand what you are paying for
When you pay your rent make sure that you understand what you are actually paying for. You need to ask if these items are included:
If they are not, you need to know what charges you will be liable for. You are within your rights to ask for a previous bill to know what is to be expected.
Sign an agreement
It is important that you protect your rights as a consumer. There is not a lot of protection for people that opt to take part in share accommodation so you need to take action to protect your own rights. You should have a document signed by all people living in the property that outlines the following:
- How much the rent is and what other costs are involved.
- How much notice each person has to give to leave the shared agreement.
- Cleaning and who is responsible for what and how it will be done.
- Reporting of damage or problems.
- Rent payments and how they will be made.
- Paying for communal groceries e.g. dish washing liquid.
- Bill payments, how it will be done.
An example of a shared household agreement found here.
Search for shared accommodation
There are several places that you can look to find shared accommodation. UOW StudyStays has a list of shared accommodation, where the listings are all vetted by the University of Wollongong.
Other websites you can consider when seeking private and rental accommodation locally are:
A comprehensive guide to shared accommodation is provided by the Redfern Legal Centre is found online and is definitely worth reading. If you still have questions about shared accommodation or your accommodation arrangements please contact Housing Services.
More information about share housing, including legal issues can be found on the Tenants Union NSW site. There are also a very useful facts sheets on the Tenants Union website for people considering share houses and we strongly recommend you read this before entering into any arrangements.