Shared accommodation

Shared accommodation is where you either rent a private property with others or move into an established share house.

Joint private rentals 

If you jointly rent a private property with others, you will be a ‘co-tenant’ of the property, meaning both you and other people you are living with will be listed on the lease. 

All tenants listed on the lease will be jointly responsible for paying rent and bond to a landlord or real estate agent and looking after the property.  

When renting privately, the property is usually unfurnished and you will need to consider things like getting utilities and internet connections (which will have associated costs). 

Established share house 

If you’re moving into an established share house (referred to as ‘sub-letting’), the rent is usually paid to the person who signed the lease (known as a ‘head-tenant’). In these cases, you should still ask for written approval by the landlord or real estate agent to sub-let.   

For more information on sub-letting, refer to the Tenants Union website 

If sharing in an already established share house, it may already be furnished or partially furnished.  

If paying bond and rent to a head tenant, ensure that you are provided with receipts or keep proof of any payments made to your head tenant.  

Finding shared accommodation

Renting in shared accommodation generally means that you will have your own bedroom with all other household facilities being shared (such as kitchen, laundry, living room etc.).  

Shared accommodation is a great idea if you like to live independently, want to meet new people, or extend your social circle. It is also a cost effective way to live, with rent and bills being split with other people. 

You can find shared accommodation through the following: 

The sites listed above are independent businesses which are not owned or operated by UOW. It is your responsibility to make sure your accommodation meets your needs. Any rental agreement you enter into is strictly between you and the accommodation provider. 

Things to do and consider when sharing accommodation

While shared accommodation is a great alternative to living by yourself, it can be complicated and may not be for everyone. When sharing with others, it’s important to consider the following: 

  • Do you want to live with male or females, or both? 
  • Do you mind living with people who smoke and/or drink alcohol 
  • Do you mind sharing with people that have different religious beliefs? 
  • What furniture will you need to bring? 

It’s important to establish some rules with your house mates so that everyone is on the same page with things like:  

  • Paying for communal groceries (e.g. dish washing liquid, toilet paper etc.) 
  • How bills will be paid (who is responsible for paying, how they are split?).  
  • Cooking and cleaning responsibilities/arrangements (who does what and how often?) 
  • General house rules (such as visitors or overnight guests, how much notice should be given if someone wants to move out?) 
  • Reporting and payment for damages on the property (will these costs be shared or be the responsibility of the person who caused the damage?) 

Having these things understood and agreed on before moving in can avoid arguments or disputes in the future.  

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. 

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 isillegal. 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. 

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: 

  • Furniture 
  • Meals 
  • Electricity 
  • Internet
  • Telephone 
  • Gas 

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. 

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. 

A comprehensive guide to shared accommodation is available via the Redfern Legal Centre – we recommend you read it.  

You can also find information about share housing, including legal issues, on the Tenants Union NSW site. We strongly recommend you read these resources before entering into any arrangements. 

If you still have questions about shared accommodation, or your accommodation arrangements, please contact UOW’s Housing Services Officer.