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Negotiating group house living in five steps

Emily Crabb

The process of committing to a group house can be daunting, exciting and challenging to say the least.

Here are our top tips to help you smoothly negotiate this sometimes volatile process.

Choose Your Housemates Wisely

Constant fun, communal cooking, movie nights and raging parties. These preconceived ideas are a magical, yet brief phase of the share house experience.

This initial honeymoon stage can lull naïve housemates into a false sense of security. However, this seemingly harmonious reality is shattered when the novelty wears off and the practicalities of constantly being in each other’s space sets in. To soften the blow, my advice is to live with people you know who are not your besties, but not complete strangers either. If you’re in a position where you can’t be picky and a stranger is the only option, then utilise social media and do your research on any prospective roomies.

Remember, you will be sharing a home with these people; therefore a little social media research is 100% justified and necessary. If you’re in a situation where you’re bunking with your bestie, then laying ground rules from the get-go is more necessary than ever. Small tiffs about dirty dishes can escalate quickly, therefore; rules regarding the small, everyday stuff will save you a world of hurt further down the track.

Put On Your Adult Pants and Be Objective When Allocating Rent

So, you’ve chosen roomies and gotten approved for a house, now comes the tedious task of choosing rooms and allocating who’s paying what. At the end of the day, the housemate living in the boxy bedroom that smells like cat wee and the housemate living in the massive, master bedroom should not be paying the same amount of rent.

Our tip for simply and objectively resolving this touchy problem is using a rent calculator. These online calculators take your monthly rent and divide it fairly, based on bedroom specifications (entered by you). Here is a great site to help you split the rent: www.splitwise.com/calculators/rent

Be Militant When It Comes To The Condition Report

A condition report MUST BE provided to you along with the keys before you enter the property. But the most important part is: remember to fill it out and return it to your property manager within two weeks of occupying the house. If you fail to return it within the two weeks then, by default, you are agreeing to the damages listed by the manager. So it is extra important to get it out of the way before you start the move.

It seems tedious but yet again, put in the work early and save yourself mental and financial struggles down the track. There is nothing worse than arguing with a property manager about damages to the house, especially when you didn’t inflict them. A simple way of searching for the imperfections of the property before you move in is to split up the workload. Assign each roomie a few spaces to scour and have them list every imperfection they find, no matter how small.

Make sure everyone is on the lease

A condition of group house living is having to negotiate multiple personalities in one space which can sometimes be volatile. Naturally, people come and go. However, make sure that once a roomie has left, that they are removed from the lease.

In turn, their replacement must pay a share of the bond and go on the lease. Regardless of the fact that this is expected behaviour as tenants, it also assures everyone is equally accountable for damages and unforeseen problems.

Make Your Room Your Sanctuary

Any ideas you have of decorating the entire house goes out the window as soon as one of your roomies hangs her frangipani canvas in prime position above the couch.

Our answer to this is suggesting that you channel all your decorating energy into your own room. Also, having a room that has pot plants, rugs, scented oils, artwork and candles creates a sanctuary in which you can escape the hectic environment of the main house. With Kmart, Canberra Outlet Centre and IKEA at our fingertips, creating your dream room is easier and more affordable than ever. You can also try society6.com for prints to brighten your space without paint or hunt around at the Old Bus Depot Markets for little treasures.

Quick Tips

  • Do one big group shop for communal essentials
  • Decide what to share i.e. milk, condiments, cleaning products
  • Decide what not to share i.e. meat, Tim Tams, wine
  • Allocate fridge space
  • Clean up after yourself
  • BE AWARE THAT EVERYONE CAN HEAR YOU so watch your volume when venting on the phone
  • Communicate clearly when something is bothering you
  • Look past the pettiness, try your hardest to be objective
  • Divide up the cost amongst each housemate and pay for an end of lease clean
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Emily Crabb

Emily Crabb has recently finished her final semester at the University of Canberra where she studied Communications in Advertising. Emily’s 2016 has consisted of her travelling nationally and internationally, meeting the creative minds of the advertising, media and public relations industries from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur to Sydney and to Singapore. These adventures gave her a renewed source of inspiration and motivation but also a renewed appreciation for her hometown of Canberra. Emily particularly enjoys treating herself with clothes she cannot justify buying and eating anything from a brunch menu. More about the Author

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