Finding or offering share accommodation is a fun social interaction, however, a few simple steps can make the whole process a lot simpler and safer for everyone.
Discussing rights and responsibilities as a tenant or landlord can be awkward when moving in with someone you barely know – at times it can even feel like a breach of the trust between future home sharers. However the opposite is more often true, the best new home sharers are those who are comfortable & happy with their new situation because they know all their rights and responsibilities.
Legal documents, contracts and residential tenancy agreements can be daunting but this is not something to be scared of, it’s generally very easy to take a few simple steps to protect yourself. Having a brief understanding of the law and the correct processes will give you protection again loss of rent or bond, damage to the property, protection from misunderstands and will set out the rights and obligations of everyone involved.
Must do’s for all prospective single parent home sharers
1. View the property
This is not a legal requirement but its a crucial step. This is going to be your future home! Make sure you know as much as possible about the place and the person you are going to share it with. Inspecting a property and meeting the other person is the only real way of getting a real gut feel for what it’s going to be like.
If you are out of state or country and are unable to visit in person then make sure you organise a video meeting and tour on Skype or FaceTime. If you are uncomfortable going to an inspection alone, organise to meet them in a coffeeshop for an informal chat or bring along a friend to the inspection.
2. Discuss the details before the sharing arrangement starts
A majority of issues would not have occurred if details of the sharing arrangements had been discussed upfront.
Important points before the sharing starts are:
- Rent including when it is due and how it is paid
- Deposit and how its being held, if there is one
- Who is responsible for bills and how they are split
- Notice period at the end the tenancy
- House rules and any other relevant details
- Kids and discipline and parenting methods
3. Introduce the kids to one another
It’s really important that one you and the other person seems happy enough with the property, living arrangements, agreements and relationship that one another children meet. Kids don’t always get along straight away, it can take a while and it might need a few goes to get comfortable with one another. Its important for not only the kids to meet one another but for each parent to meet the others kids.
4. Have a written agreement
Even sharing with best friends can go wrong and many disagreements occur because people cannot remember what was agreed when the home sharing started. Most states offer a standard tenancy agreement form, if you google your state and tenancy agreement form, you will find something that is suitable.
5. Register the bond, if your doing one.
In most states you must register the bond by law. Tenants are generally entitled to receive the Bond back at the end of the tenancy unless there has been a breach of the agreement. Common breaches include damage to the property or unpaid rent.
6. Payment and collection of rent
Rent in share accommodation is most commonly paid via bank transfer or in cash. If you pay via cash make sure you get a receipt every time (This can be as simple as an email or an SMS from the other person confirming they have received the money and what it is for).
As a home sharer is is your obligation to pay your rent on time and in full otherwise your bond and occupation of the property will be in jeopardy, plus it puts financial strain on the other person too come up with the amount in full and then lines get blurred between who owes what
Make sure to agree how many weeks in advance rent will be collected up front.
7. Give the correct notice when ending the agreement
Before any home sharing starts you should agree on the notice period that either party must give to terminate the tenancy. Its not OK to leave without notice or to kick someone out of a property without the correct notice. Many states have specific rules on notice periods and termination.
These legal guides provide a brief summary and introduction of the laws and regulations affecting share accommodation. They do not cover all cases in all legal jurisdictions and might not apply in your specific share accommodation situation. It is important that you use this information as a guide only and seek independent Legal Advice. We do not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.