House sharing tips for students

Share House

A good student share house can be the venue for fun times and great memories but getting it set up isn't always easy.  It pays to take your time and gain a thorough understanding of the process ahead, especially if it's your first time away from home. But don't be overwhelmed, this isn't third-year physics, and by developing a few new skills and some smart planning you'll be house-warming in no time.

Often the first hurdle for setting up any new share house is money, students don't usually have a lot, so it's essential to accurately forecast set up costs for yourself and your future house mates.

Important things to budget for include:

  • Bond
  • Rent (including initial deposit to the landlord, sometimes you'll have to pay several weeks' rent in advance) 
  • Utilities (electricity and/or gas, Internet) 
  • Water rates - if it is not included in your rent 
  • Contents insurance
  • Living expenses 

See here for more information

School is in session – 10 tips for setting up a student share house

  1. Property inspection 

You've secured a share house and now it's time for the initial property inspection with your new landlord. Student share houses can get wild so this is an important step, it will help both parties check and agree the property condition prior to moving in. It's an opportunity for you to make sure everything is functional and identify any areas that require repair.

Your landlord will want to complete a property inspection report to check against the condition of the share house when you leave. Be thorough and take your time because any damage you miss at this point could potentially be blamed on you later. It's a clever idea to extensively photograph the inside of the share house including the walls, floors, kitchenware, white ware, taps, and showerheads to give both you and your landlord a clear record of the property's initial condition. Save the photos in a safe place and share them with your landlord. Remember to point out any defects or damage you notice that hasn't been mentioned. Ask for a copy of the report and double-check all damage has been noted.

  1. Checking the appliances in your share house

Any appliances that come with the share house should be in good working order. Having the appliances functioning well can help you reduce water use and electricity consumption and keep down overall flat running costs. Examples of appliances to check include: 

  • Oven
  • Fixed wall heaters 
  • Dishwasher 
  • Air conditioners
  1. Insulation

Effective insulation is important when considering a potential share house. Insulation helps your home cooler during the summer months.

Insulating your share house with close-fitting, full length lined curtains will prevent heat from entering - pull down blinds and/or close curtains. Additionally, purchasing new energy-efficient items may seem like a splurge now, but will save money long term.

  1. Energy-efficient lighting

Before you blow the share house budget on bean bags and a pool table, give some thought to energy-efficient lighting. Making a modest investment now will help reduce electricity consumption in your share house and save you money in the long run. Replace the original light bulbs with a set of LED bulbs and remember to retain the original bulbs to put them back in when you move out. Then you can take the LEDs to your next share house.

  1. Hot water use

Reducing hot water usage is one of the most effective ways to save energy and money in a flat. A few small behavioural changes are all it takes to see real savings on your monthly bill. Here are some simple ways you and your house mates can save hot water:

  • Take shorter showers

    Don't be the house mate all the others whinge about. By taking shorter showers you can save a significant amount of money for the share house. For serious hot water savers, turn off the shower during the middle part of your routine, lather up and then get it going again. Done regularly this can save a large amount of hot water. 

  • Wash your clothes in cold water

    Most modern washing machines have a cold water setting, you've probably heard about it before. By washing with cold water your water heating costs will decrease. Washing four loads per week using this setting will save around $50 – $80 a year. 

  • Rinse dishes with cold water

    Rinsing your dishes with hot water is great for getting your plates clean, but that's the job of the dishwasher. Using cold water to rinse helps reduce water heating. To save even more money and water, scrape your dirty dishes and don't rinse them at all. Most dishwashers are more than capable of washing your dishes without you having to rinse them prior. If your share house doesn't have a dishwasher, you've made a terrible mistake, prepare for frequent share house meetings.

  1. Smoke alarms and fire extinguishers

It is now a legal requirement that working smoke alarms are fitted to all rental properties. Ask your landlord to show you where they are and how to test them. See more information here. You could also discuss having your landlord supply a fire extinguisher as part of the house safety plan. Please see further advice on fire extinguishers here.

  1. Emergency fire exit plans

Having an emergency exit plan not only helps you and your flatmates know where the best potential exits are in case of a fire; it also exposes any maintenance that needs to be done on doors or windows around the share house that could restrict your escape. Speak to your landlord if you have any concerns. If any exits are blocked insist on this being rectified.

  1. Repairing damage

With friends visiting, impromptu parties, and occasional games of hallway cricket there are unlimited ways your share house could get damaged. Remember that regardless of how the damage occurred it's not your responsibility to make the repair - it's your landlord's but you would need to pay for it. Bite the bullet, call your landlord and report the damage so it can be fixed as soon as possible by your landlord or their nominated contractor.

  1. Paying the bills

Who is responsible for paying the bills? In short, everybody is – here are some useful tips on how to split your bills fairly.

  1. Chores

Nothing can disrupt flat harmony quicker than a house mate not doing their share of chores. Making a chore roster won't guarantee all jobs are done, but it will help keep things fair and make it obvious who hasn't done their jobs.