Many Australians are opting to live in share houses due to housing unaffordability, low rental vacancy rates, the soaring cost of living and as an avenue to cut down their expenses to save up for a home of their own.
According to flatmates.com.au shared accommodation is booming in Melbourne, where new room listings surged by over 110 per cent in the first six months of 2015 compared to the same time in 2014.
If you’re living in shared accommodation it’s important to be able to find a new housemate quickly when someone decides to move on from your shared living arrangement, ideally in time to cover the shared cost of your next rent and utility payments.
Here’s some advice about the best ways to go about finding a suitable housemate for your share house.
Where to look:
Friends and family- The best place to start out is by talking to the people you already know and trust and seeing if they can recommend or know of anyone looking for a room to rent in your area.
Get social- Share your room for rent with your social network on Facebook and Twitter. Try creating a Facebook event including photos, the cost of rent and other details of the home, and asking your friends to invite others who may be interested.
Online classifieds- If you have no luck with family members and your social peeps, try using online classifieds and matching systems. There are a number of great free portals where you can post housemate wanted ads, such as flatmates.com.au, flatmatefinders.com.au, or au.easyroommate.com.
If your home is close to a university you could also try posting on that particular university’s student Facebook page or check the uni’s website for a student accommodation listing service.
Remember to always be honest about your house, fellow housemates and the type of housemate you’re looking for in the advertisement. If you can’t stand cigarette smoke, cats and loud parties, save yourself the time and the headache of dealing with it later and say so from the get go.
Key questions to ask:
Once you’ve found some candidates, the next thing you’ll need to do is set up inspections of the home and interview the prospects.
What do they do for a living? What hours do they work? From these questions you’ll be able to suss out how a person will fit into you and your housemates’ day-to-day schedules, this is especially important if you’re sharing a bathroom. You’ll also get an idea of their income, whether they’ll be able to make rent each month and whether or not the rent will be a stretch or well within their means.
How long do they plan on staying? Are they willing to co-sign the lease? These questions will help you to make sure the candidate is committed to staying for duration of the lease. It’s also a good sign if they’re willing to co-sign the lease to protect you and the other housemates from a sudden exit.
Do they have any pets or plan on getting a pet? For many landlords having pets in their property is a non-negotiable. If you’re in this situation it’s very important to make sure your potential housemate is aware of the no pets policy. Also some other people may simply prefer not to live with pets in their home due to allergies, cleanliness or noise.
Will they be having overnight guests? This can be a slightly awkward one to talk about with someone you’ve just met, but it’s a very important to establish a policy on sleepovers from the outset. You need to find out if someone plans on having their partner stay over more than 5 nights a week or if they’re single and intend on bringing different people back to stay frequently, which can be a safety concern.
What do they like to do to have fun/ relax/ socialise? This is a delicate way to check whether your prospective housemate will be throwing wild parties, and whether they smoke, drink or have drugs as a part of their life. It’s also a good way to see if they’ll fit into the culture of your share house and if they have any things in common with yourself and other roommates, like cooking, musical instruments, sports and hobbies.
Do they have references? Checking in with your candidate’s references will be one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from a housemate from hell. Ask them for references from past living arrangements and give them a call asking for honest feedback about the candidate. If a potential housemate has no references that’s a big red flag.
For more advice about living comfortably in a share house take a look at our four ground rules to set before moving in with a new housemate.
Also check out some of our Q&A topics on renting:
- Affordable and safe places to rent in Melbourne.
- Suggestions for finding a house to rent in Melbourne.
- Cheapest places to rent in Geelong.
Happy housemate hunting!
From the Homely Team