How to make renting with friends work


Living with housemates can be a challenge, even if they’re your friends.

But with some planning and clear communication, everyone can agree on how clean a cleaned kitchen should be and keep the household peaceful.

Consider putting everyone’s name on the lease

Here’s a big one. A lease is a legal document, and it means that the care of the rental property is the responsibility of everyone who signs it.

While it may not seem like a big deal to sign a lease with your friends, if someone needs to leave in a hurry and doesn’t pay their share, you may have to stump up with their share of the cash. Under the lease, all roomies are responsible for themselves and each other.

It’s probably a good idea to make sure you're aware of your renting rights in your state or territory, to help navigate both living with friends and communicating with your landlord. For Victoria, check Consumer Affairs Victoria for more information.

Agree on how to split bills

Chatting about money can be awkward, but it’s a must when you’re living with people. Discuss how you’ll split utility bills, internet costs and shared household supplies.

You could try keeping bills somewhere visible, like a whiteboard, and list the amounts owed, or even use a shared expenses app. You can use these kinds of apps to add the details of outstanding bills, automatically divide the cost between each housemate and even notify people of what they owe. This can help you avoid any awkward chasing after a bill is due.

Decide whether and how to share food

One of the most contentious areas in a sharehouse is the fridge.

While it’s up to you where you draw the line, it’s usually easier for each housemate to have their own food. That said, some households are okay with sharing certain items, like the basic staples of butter, milk, spuds and oil. You can always add these things to your expenses whiteboard or tracking app!

For non-basics, it can help to keep them separate. That way you can avoid having your housemate leave a single marshmallow in a family pack and never buying more because, quote, “I didn’t eat them all!”.

For your personal food, it can help to have designated spots in the pantry and fridge. This can eliminate any ambiguity and avoid your roomie “accidentally” eating your choccy.

If you’re particularly worried – or if your housemates need that extra reminder – you can label your food containers. That way, no one should be confused about who they belong to!

Work out a cleaning roster for shared spaces

Keeping the place clean is everyone’s job, so consider a roster.

For shared areas like kitchen, bathroom and living areas, it can help to outline what actually needs to be done. For example:

  • mop the floors
  • take out the bins
  • vacuum under the couch, and
  • clean the stove rangehood.

This might seem like overkill, but one housemate’s “clean” could be another’s “why is there still oil dripping from the rangehood?” You don’t have to be too strict with it if you feel like your housemates are on top of cleaning, but it can help ensure that everyone does their fair share.

Lay the ground rules for guests

Some people enjoy a super-social household where friends-of-friends pop by and mates constantly crash on the couch. Some others… absolutely don’t.

You may not need to set concrete rules for guests, but be aware of your housemates’ expectations when having friends or partners over and keep that dialogue open. You should chat about this early on, even before you’ve officially moved in.

Of course, how you all approach this can change and adapt to the situation at hand – like if a partner starts staying over, for example. Whatever you agree on, make sure everyone knows where the line is. That way, if someone is stepping over it you can refer to your house rules and re-open the dialogue.

Work out the process for if someone has to move out

Sometimes things don’t go as planned and you, or one of your housemates, might need to leave the house before the lease is up. Consider how you’ll all approach this — if you don’t, it could put stress on your friendship.

Think about:

  • how long they’ll keep paying rent for
  • how much notice they need to give the landlord and the other housemates
  • who is responsible for communicating with the landlord
  • whose responsibility it is to find another housemate, and
  • how you’ll pay their share of the bond.

Breaking or altering the lease is complicated, but having a few guidelines in place may make it a little smoother.

Get written housemate rules

Writing it all down can help prevent any tiffs from blowing up. Just a set of housemate rules can do the job!

This doesn’t have to be a one-and-done thing either – it’s not carved in stone! You can make changes as you go.

By keeping everything clear, you can keep the place in harmony.

Don’t forget to cover your stuff!

Though your landlord is responsible for the building, you’ll still need to cover your things. With AAMI, you can choose from two covers.

AAMI Fire and Theft Contents is the cheaper option. It provides up to $25,000 cover for renters (or homeowners, but excluding landlords) against fire and theft - offering peace of mind without the bells and whistles. That said, you'll benefit from ‘new for old’ replacement, regardless of age, and up to $20 million in legal liability cover.

Keep in mind that if you choose Fire and Theft Contents, you’re only covered for loss or damage from fire or theft, and have a sum insured limit of $25,000. If your collective contents are worth more, you may want to consider AAMI Contents Insurance. It’s a bit more comprehensive, which means it can cover you for more than $25,000, and a few more insured events to boot!

Before you take out a policy, take stock of each person’s belongings and whether anyone has especially expensive items. If they do, you can choose to list the priciest things as ‘specified contents’ to ensure they’re covered for their full value. Some types of items may still be covered as ‘unspecified contents’ if they aren’t specified, but may have a claim limit for any one incident. Please note that contents cannot be specified with Fire and Theft Contents.

For more information about AAMI Contents Insurance, Fire and Theft Contents Insurance and specified items, including the terms, conditions and exclusions, refer to the relevant Product Disclosure Statement.

PS: AAMI’s free online contents calculator may help work out how much your total contents sum insured should be.

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Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 AFSL 230859 trading as AAMI. Any advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it. Please read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before you make any decision regarding this product. The Target Market Determination is also available.

The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.