When seeking a property and beginning a lease arrangement, the same considerations, fees, rights and responsibilities apply – see our Fact Sheet on Beginning a Tenancy. Please see our Fact Sheets relating to any other tenancy issues, because once entered into, the Act applies equally to a share house as it does to a family rental.
The landlord/agent should be informed if this will be a share house situation and who will be signing the lease and therefore responsible as follows:
Co-Tenancy v. Sub-leases
Two or more tenants with a shared relationship to the landlord/agent are considered co-tenants. Co-tenants are joint and severally liable for paying the rent and damage, meaning the landlord/agent may come after any of the co-tenants for the full rent or damage even though another tenant moves out or is responsible for the damage. Co-tenants can then sort out any debts between themselves.
Sub-tenants are those with a lease agreement with the ‘head’ tenant(s) and generally have no direct relationship with the landlord/agent. Sub-tenancies are permitted under the following two conditions:
1) the ‘head’ tenant(s) must occupy the premises and
2) the ‘head’ tenant(s) must get consent from the landlord/agent. The landlord/agent must not unreasonably withhold consent. Sub-tenancies are not covered under the Act but an agreement will be subject to general contract law.
Managing the Bond
Bonds are held with the Rental Deposit Authority (RDA) not the landlord. The maximum bond allowable is 4 times the weekly rent. The bond can be paid directly to an agent and they will lodge it with the RDA and provide a receipt. When the bond is first filed, all co-tenants must sign the forms and deposit a single amount.
Transferring a Bond
Co-tenants moving in or out may need to fill out a Tenant Transfer Form. Generally incoming tenants lodge the form with the RDA through Service Tasmania and pay their bond to the outgoing tenant.
Rents in a share house can vary, with every tenant paying an equal share of the rent or a discounted rent for smaller rooms or if a couple shares a room. Discounts could be considered for extra chores.
Be sure that all tenants know the exact amount of their rent, when it is due and what account it must be paid into. It is a good idea to have a method of checking these deposits, remembering that all tenants on the lease are responsible for timely payment of rent.
Most landlord/agents will require an automatic direct deposit, so rent money must be in the account on time. Having rent in arrears can be grounds for a Notice to Vacate being issued.
Bills other than Rent
Carefully consider all shared bills such as land line phone, power, gas. Internet connection and data requirements need to be discussed. Agree on a plan before entering a contract with an internet provider.
It needs to be very clear how these bills are calculated per person and how/when they are paid. Tenants could consider either a standard sum added to their rent payment with a reconciliation of amounts every quarter, or payment when the bill arrives, and a deadline to deposit funds.
Be aware that utility companies will only deal with people listed on the original contract, be sure that someone in the house continues to be a valid contact.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
To maintain a smoothly running share house, it is important to keep a good flow of communication.
Co-tenants should make decisions together. In a head tenant / sub tenant situation, decisions will probably rest with the head tenant as they are ultimately responsible to the landlord/agent for maintaining the conditions of the lease and the Act. A head tenant should inform sub tenant’s of decisions or house rules which effect them. It is advisable to discuss house rules, write them out and have all tenants sign an agreement.
Will the housework be done on a roster? Is it done equally with chores shared around or do some people have specific ongoing chores? Agree on the level of cleaning required, one person’s clean kitchen is another’s worst nightmare. Post cleaning rosters in a visible area. An agreement should also be made on the daily cleaning needs of the house – especially the kitchen and bathroom areas.
Will all food be bought and stored communally or will this only apply to basic grocery items such as salt, pepper and cleaning products? Will there be a shared budget for these items or will the person buying the items seek reimbursement?
If tenants purchase their own food or specialty items, how will this be marked and safely stored? Nothing can cause more tension then people feeling their food has been taken.
Are meals cooked communally, do people take it in turn or do people cook independently?
Is the gardening the tenants’ responsibility and if so, how will these chores be handled? Whose equipment will be used and who will pay costs such as petrol for the lawn mower?
Noise and Visitors
Tenants in a share house should be sympathetic to the needs of others; students who are studying, shift workers, early risers, night owls or party animals.
However these things should be considered before moving into a share house. Ask questions. If a new tenant is quiet and studious, they probably shouldn’t move into a party house.
Another thing to discuss is if visitors are allowed to stay at the house, and if so, for how long. A partner staying overnight every couple of weeks may be suitable, but when they stay 5 out of 7 nights every week, this could create issues.
All tenants should have a safe and secure personal area, which is off limits to all other tenants unless they are invited to enter. Locks are an optional item and cannot be installed without the permission of the landlord/agent (this is an alteration to the premise).
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not legal advice. It is intended as a guide only. It applies only to legislation current in Tasmania as at 21 Sept 2015. For information regarding a specific tenancy problem please phone the Tenants’ Union on 1300 652 641 or (03) 6223 2641. The Tenants’ Union of Tasmania Inc. accepts no responsibility for actions based on this information, nor for actions based on electronic translations of this.