Renting with friends: How to make it work


Have you heard the saying, “you don’t know what someone is really like until you live with them”?

It’s often said about romantic partners, but it applies to living with your mates, too. In some instances, a shared living situation can strengthen your bond. In others, the reality of your bestie’s dirty washing in the living room could become too much.

So, if you’ve decided to live with friends, how do you make it work?

5 ways to make moving in with friends easy

When you’re living with mates, it’s important to set some ground rules. When approached openly and with input from everyone, these can help establish boundaries which should result in household harmony (rather than hell!).

1. Make sure everyone’s name is on the lease

A lease, or rental agreement, is a legal document. If yours is the only name on it, the rental property becomes your responsibility. While this may not seem like a big deal, if someone needs to leave in a hurry and doesn’t pay their share, you’ll have to stump up with the cash. By listing every roomie on the lease, you’re all equally responsible.

2. Decide how to split bills

Chatting about money isn’t always easy. But it’s best to approach bills as transparently as possible, so everyone knows what their contribution to things like household items, the Internet and utilities will be.

You could try keeping bills somewhere visible, like on the fridge, and list the amounts owed, or even use a shared expenses app. A quick search on the Google or Apple app stores should help you find one. You can use these kinds of apps to add the details of outstanding bills, automatically divide the cost between each flatmate, and even notify people of what they owe.

3. Work out a cleaning roster for shared spaces

Keeping your new home clean is everyone’s responsibility. So, developing a roster for cleaning the bathroom, kitchen and shared living areas, as well as other tasks like taking the bins out, will ensure everyone does their fair share.

4. Lay some ground rules for guests

You may not need to set concrete rules for guests, but be aware your besties' expectations when having friends or partners over. Think about whether you’ll have people over regularly, or if someone’s partner will stay a few days a week (if they do, you could ask them to contribute to expenses).

These expectations may change over time. If your roomie has a deadline at work, they may not be over the moon about your plans to throw a house party. Keep the lines of communication open so everyone’s needs are taken into account.

5. Work out what happens if someone needs 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
  • whose responsibility it is to find another roomie, and
  • how you’ll pay their share of the bond.

Like having guests over, breaking the lease can be adapted to the situation. But, having a few guidelines in place may make it a little smoother.

Don’t forget to cover your stuff

Though your landlord will have insurance that covers the building part of your new home, you’ll need to cover your stuff and any fittings you’re responsible for.

Contents insurance will provide coverage for your belongings if an incident, like fire or theft, were to occur. When you’re renting, you can take out a policy that lists everyone in the house. But before you take one out, get everyone to identify whether they have expensive items. This way, the items can be specified and covered up to their full amount.

You can get a quote without adding a high-value specified item and then add it to see what the difference is to work out how much each housemate potentially needs to pay. So, you’ll be able to split the premium payment between you fairly.

Need a hand? Our Home Contents Calculator can help you estimate your sum insured.

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Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 AFSL 230859 (AAI) 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.