Commissioner's Blog: Living by the law - what you need to know before share housing

This announcement is for: 
Landlord / lessorTenant

Splitting a rental with mates or even people you find through an advert can be a smart way to tackle soaring rent prices and low vacancy rates. But before you start dividing up chores and discussing furniture options, it’s important to understand your legal rights and responsibilities when it comes to share house arrangements.

In co-tenancies, there is a shared tenancy agreement, but all tenants are jointly responsible for the full rent amount, bond and condition of the entire property. This means if your house mate misses a rent payment, for example, the whole household could be at risk of breaching the tenancy agreement unless they can cover the outstanding amount. 

When it comes to paying the bond, each contributor must be listed against the bond as a tenant. The private landlord or agent then has 14 days to lodge the bond with the Bond Administrator.

Consumer Protection has recently had two real estate agencies and directors fined and reprimanded for failing to lodge tenancy bonds within the required timeframe. Renters deserve peace of mind knowing their bonds are being handle by landlords and agents in accordance with the law.

It is important tenants receive an immediate receipt of their payment. The Bond Administrator will also send the tenants and the private landlord/agent a record of the payment directly from the department. This also ensures each tenant is returned their correct share of the bond when the tenancy ends.

If you move out of a share house, negotiate to have your name removed from the tenancy agreement. If you fail to do this, you can still be held responsible for the rent and other obligations. Also ensure you are provided with an outgoing property condition report. If anything needs to be addressed the cost will be recovered from your share of the bond.

Similarly, if you move into a share house ask for the tenancy agreement to be varied to list you as a co-tenant and add your name to the bond. The landlord/agent should provide an up-to-date property condition report. As the new co-tenant, you cannot be held responsible for the condition of the property before you moved in.

Consumer Protection advises only entering into shared tenancy agreements with people you trust and communicate well with. This can be difficult to gauge when replying to an ad looking for a house mate, so it’s recommended to put everything of importance in writing to protect yourself. This may include agreements about how and when rent and bills are paid, responsibility for everyday cleaning and maintenance of the property, ownership of any shared belongings and use of common areas.

If one tenant has paid another tenant's share of rent or other money owed to the landlord, the tenant can apply to the court for an order they be repaid by the other tenant. If you need assistance with money owed by a co-tenant or other similar dispute, reach out to your local community legal centre for more advice. 

When everyone decides to move out of a share house the tenancy ends in the typical way.

If you do not receive a record of bond payment from the Bond Administrator in the first few weeks of moving in, please contact us on 1300 30 40 54 or so we can follow up. 

Consumer Protection
Media release
07 Mar 2024

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