11 rules that create share house harmony

Living in a share house can be a fantastic experience. You’ll live with your fair share of freaks, geeks and wonderful people, each of whom will introduce you to invaluable new life experiences.

Yet happy share houses aren’t created by throwing a bunch of like-minded people together.

Share house living is all about good communication, trust and tolerance.

Harmonious share house living is all about communication, trust and tolerance.

Here are some top conversation starters for house sharers.

1. The lease

If everyone’s a signatory to the lease, you each have equal rights in the household. It shouldn’t matter if someone’s paying more for a larger room, no one housemate should lord it over the others. Everyone’s equally responsible for paying their share of the rent and looking after the bond.

2. Rental payments

Establish and agree on a means of delivery that doesn’t lay the burden all on one person to chase late rental payments.

For efficiency, payments could be made into one third party account via automatic bank deposit. Loop in your property manager or landlord – they should be able to set this up. It’ll save you a lot of stress down the track.

3. Utilities

Electricity, water and gas bills should ideally be split equally between all housemates. However, disputes can arise when the heating or cooling bill comes in. If one of you has an appliance that chews through a lot of electricity (like a floor heater) it might be fairest for that person to pay a higher proportion of the energy bill.

If sustainability is important to your household, discuss things like recycling and brainstorm ways to conserve household energy. There’s heaps you can do reduce your impact on the environment by making simple changes at home.

Brainstorm ways to conserve household energy.

Note: If you do think a utility bill is unreasonably high, check your appliances are in good working order before you talk to your landlord. A poorly maintained property is undesirable for tenants so it’s in the landlord’s interest to consider your suggestions.

4. Internet and cable

These too should shared equally – but what if you’ve got one housemate that works from home, or another who downloads films constantly, or one who plays World of Warcraft for 15 hours straight?!

What if you have a housemate who downloads heaps of films or plays World of Warcraft 24-7?

Bear in mind they may have perfectly legitimate reasons for greater reliance on the service than the rest of you. But if you notice your internet bill creeping up and up, take the opportunity to discuss whether you need to go on a new plan.

Here are some simple fixes:

  • Set a timer on the computer to download only during off-peak;
  • Catch the big game at a local pub that has Foxtel (it might have great Pint ‘n’ Parma deal too);
  • Sign up for a movie library like Netflix for a small monthly fee.

5. Cleaning

This is a big one. And probably about the toughest sharing issue to get right.

The challenges:

  • People can have wildly different expectations about what is clean and what’s not;
  • Everyone has a different mess tolerance;
  • Some people are used to others cleaning up after them;
  • Many sharers don’t actually know how to clean the bathroom, oven, etc.

Ask about your housemates’ level of ‘mess tolerance’.

Frankly, no-one should have to clean up after other someone else. Worse still, it breeds resentment (not to mention odours).

Here’s some possible solutions:

  • Keep mess to your own room – it’s your space, do with it what you will;
  • Always clean up after yourself in communal areas;
  • Don’t leave things lying around for weeks;
  • Create a roster for spaces that need frequent cleaning (e.g. bathroom, toilet);
  • Pool your funds and get a cleaner;
  • Make a fun music-mix to clean to!

Teenage girl cleaning kitchen - Rooms for Rent - Roommates


Try to be patient when it comes to other people’s cleaning methods. For instance, if someone had to rush off to work they may not have had time to clean the pots in the sink, so just wait till you see them next and bring it up politely.

If you’re someone who grew up in a household where someone cleaned up after you – and you’re a bit apprehensive about cleaning the loo – stop making excuses and just ask for help. Your housemates are less likely to lash out if they know you’re making an effort.

Just ask someone to show you how to clean the bathroom.

Did you know: Vacuuming for 30 minutes burns about 90 calories, the same amount you’d burn in 15 minutes of kick boxing.

6. Food & cooking arrangements

It’s best to discuss early on how you want to manage food. Don’t make any assumptions because you may unwittingly step on someone’s toes if you use their butter without asking.

You may upset someone if you use their butter without asking.

As nerdy as it sounds, it’s best to establish rules about who uses what fridge and cupboard space.

That said, communal meals can bring great joy to a household. If this is something you’d like to try, you’ll need to arrange a cooking and shopping roster.

cooking for roommates - rooms for rent


Pro tip: Housemates that want to save cash should think about shopping online, buying in bulk, or creating a kitty for things like toilet paper and condiments. The odd trip to Costco or a weekly vegetable box delivery are great money saving ideas.

7. Communal property

Living in a sharehouse means respecting not just other people, but also their belongings.

Sure, the couch may be second-hand and the TV might’ve been a hard rubbish find, but even so, individuals can still feel very protective of their personal belongings – particularly if they’ve been purchased new. So try to treat everything in your house as if it were your own.

Treat everything in the house as if it were your own.

Try to be conscientious – ask if it’s okay for you to use your housemate’s food processor. At first they may only be comfortable with you using that pricey coffee machine when they’re around.

8. Public areas and noise

You’ll be surprised how far noise travels, especially if you live in a high rise. Take note of thin walls and be respectful when others are in the house. If people are studying or do shift work, they’re likely to be far more noise sensitive.

9. Visitors and parties

Whether it’s romantic attachments, mates or family members, you need to talk about when and how often people can stay over.

While your previous household may have been cool with the odd couch surfer, your current housemates mightn’t be okay with waking up to see a stranger in the living room. By the same token, a new boyfriend or girlfriend can dramatically change the power dynamics in a house – so just be sure they don’t overstay their welcome.

Two friends laughing at a house party - Roommates- Rooms for rent


When it comes to parties, big or small, try to make sure your housemates are on board. Talk to them before and after the event just in case they need to get something off their chest.

Pro tip: if your buddy accidentally breaks your housemate’s favorite lamp, replace it immediately and apologize profusely! Don’t try and hide the evidence.

10. Pets

Studies show that animals in the home can make the residents happier. But just because there’s an extra body in the house doesn’t mean you should rely upon your housemate to feed Abby the Angora bunny if you’re not home. The owner is still 100% responsible for cleaning up messes and caring for their pet.

Abyssinian cat - Rooms for Rent - Pet Friendly

11. Build some house traditions

The very best share houses do fun things as a group.

The best share houses do fun things as a group.

  • Suggest one night a week where one of you cooks for everyone, and rotate who’s on when;
  • Check out your local pub trivia night – you never know, you might make a cracker team;
  • Plan bonding activities – start a veggie patch, a crafternoon or have a regular games night.

At the end of the day, you’re in a shared space, so you’ll have to compromise here and there. You’re not going to get your own way all the time, and in the course of sharing you might encounter people who are unpleasant, selfish or clueless.

You’re also pretty much guaranteed make some lifelong friends and enjoy a lot of laughs along the way.

Original article from realestate.com.au