Living with virtual strangers (or friends) as housemates aren't to everyone's liking or lifestyle. But it's certainly a great way to get started if you want to quickly move out of the family home and become independent. Some of the perks of living in a housemate situation include buying minimal furniture and having the rent and household bills divided.
On the other hand, you could be the one looking for someone to move into your home instead. Many see this as a way to help with rising living costs or to not live alone, just to name a few reasons.
Regardless of whether you’re choosing to become a housemate or choosing a new housemate to move in, it can be a scary time. So to help keep you safe, we have a few handy tips for you to follow.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the one looking to move in or the one looking for a housemate, these security tips apply in both situations. Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure, and living with housemates is no different. This means you will need to treat this exercise as if you are the landlord and do the following:
References and background checks.
References are a great way of knowing what the person is going to be like living with. Consider contacting previous housemates to discuss their behaviour and what a typical day with this applicant looks like. If this is going to be a first time experience for them, consider contacting their employer. What are they like to work with? Remember, background checks are simply there to ensure that they are as good as they say they are.
Meet and greet.
Meet with your potential new housemate face to face in the house. Discuss what they want to get out of the arrangement. What are their current routines? Do they work night shifts whilst everyone else works the usual grind? Why not use this pre-agreement checklist we've found from flatmates.com.au before you make any commitments with your new housemate. This will ensure that you cover every necessary aspect of the arrangement. TIP: if you are asked to pay before viewing the property, then run in the opposite direction.
Moving into your new place or having your new housemate move in, can be a daunting task. So we have broken this part down into four segments. The most important being finances, followed by setting boundaries, protecting your space and contents insurance.
Before you sign away and enter the new living arrangement, there are a few things you need to know. How and when will the rent be paid? How are the bills split? What about grocery shopping? Is this evenly split between everyone in the household? Or is it a situation where each person takes care of their own food supplies?
Set the boundaries
Agree with your housemate on what the ground rules look like. What are the common spaces in the house? How do all the housemates treat private spaces? What happens with the household duties? If either of you decides to have friends over, what is the etiquette? What other aspects do you need to consider?
Protecting your space and belongings
Tip: consider getting one that can be quickly and easily unlocked from the inside in the event of an emergency.
The same thing goes for any spaces, such as cupboards and drawers that are completely for your use only. Why not consider purchasing a simple cabinet keyed or combination lock to keep your snacks safe and out of reach. Otherwise, the KSQ Hidden Bluetooth Operated Cabinet Lock is perfect if you prefer something that is a little bit more techie. This lock is completely hidden from the outside and is operated by a Bluetooth enabled device rather than a key.
Living with your new housemate
Now that everyone has settled into the new normal, its time to make sure that this new arrangement will continue to work.
Contents insurance is a handy thing to have. If anything goes wrong, such as a house fire or a theft, it would be good to know that they can all be easily replaced. In saying that, make sure that you take note of all your electronic devices, bicycles and any other valuables. This includes serial numbers, receipts and even photos of your belongings to show possession or ownership.
Security as a whole is something that needs to be managed by everyone in the house. Consider perhaps creating some sort of a security plan. It doesn't need to be too intricate. The plan can simply include the most common but often forgotten security tasks, such as when to lock the back door and windows. It can also include ensuring the last person to turn in, turns off all the lights. It may even be a good idea to have cameras in common and open areas so that personal items left lying around can be monitored?
While you may not bond with your new housemate overnight or even in the first few days, getting the right security in place and keeping safe is easy and important. Tell us about your housemate security story and what tips you can offer to new housemates.