Your rights and responsibilities in a shared tenancy - Tenants bulletin 44
6 September 2023
Your rights and responsibilities in a shared tenancy
Changes in the property market in Western Australia have seen shared tenancies (two or more people renting the same house) becoming a more common option for tenants.
These arrangements offer benefits such as reduced living expenses, a sense of community and flexibility. However, it is important to understand that you have rights and responsibilities if you opt to live in a shared tenancy.
What is a shared tenancy?
Shared tenancies include multiple arrangements which involve two or more independent people renting part or all of the same property. Share houses and student accommodation are common examples of shared tenancies.
In a co-tenancy, the tenants or people paying rent are signed onto a single tenancy agreement with the owner/agent. In a co-tenancy all tenants are jointly liable for the full rent amount, bond and the condition of the entire property. This joint liability can present some unique challenges. For example, if a co-tenant misses a rent payment, you may need to make up that payment, or all co-tenants may be in breach of the tenancy agreement.
Tips for co-tenants
Consumer Protection is not able to assist with disagreements between co-tenants as they are private matters. However, taking the following steps can help you avoid major disputes and protect you and your co-tenants.
Before you sign-up, make agreements with your co-tenants about important things in writing, such as:
- How and when rent is paid;
- How and when bills are paid;
- Who has contributed to the bond, how much and when;
- Responsibility for everyday cleaning and maintenance of the property;
- Ownership of any shared belongings, such as appliances and furniture; and
- Use of common areas.
Document any changes in the condition of the property and communicate in writing with the owner/agent when they happen.
Always have the owner/agent’s consent for co-tenants to move in and out during the term of the rent agreement.
Ensure all co-tenants that contribute to the bond have their name on the bond form. The details of a bond can be varied by the owner/agent with the tenants’ signatures.
In a rooming arrangement, each tenant has a separate tenancy agreement and rents a specific part of the property with use of common areas. For example, your tenancy agreement will specify that you are renting ‘Room A’ of the property, another tenant is renting ‘Room B’, and so on. Rooming arrangements are common in student accommodation and purpose-built living complexes, however they can work in share houses as well.
Why have a rooming arrangement?
Your rights and responsibilities are better defined in a rooming arrangement, and most rental matters proceed as if you are living alone. For example, you are only responsible for your share of rent and bills, not the total amount to be paid by all tenants. The owner/agent also has to lodge a separate bond for you. Most importantly, another tenant’s breach of their tenancy agreement cannot affect you.
However all tenants are responsible for any common areas including kitchens and outdoor areas.
Know if you are sub-letting
Some people in shared tenancies may not realise that they are sub-letting and how this alters their situation. You are sub-letting if an existing tenant is renting all or part of the property to you, making them the ‘head tenant’, and effectively your landlord.
With respect to your tenancy, the head tenant is responsible for:
- Lodging a bond;
- Collecting money for rent and other bills;
- Conducting property condition reports and inspections; and
- Organising repairs and maintenance.
Your tenancy depends on the head tenant’s right to sub-let, and your tenancy will lapse when their tenancy agreement ends.
If you have a query about shared tenancies, you can contact Consumer Protection Contact Centre on 1300 40 50 54 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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