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How to split rent with your housemates

They say sharing is caring, but living in a share house can be far from pleasant if the rules about splitting expenses aren’t well established.

Savings expert Kylie Travers, who runs a website about all things frugal called, explains how to decide who pays what in order to avoid fiscal fisty cuffs.“Always set ground rules for everything before you move in, so everyone knows what is expected. And get it in writing, so there’s no ‘he said, she said’,” Travers says.

It’s possible to have a happy and healthy living arrangement with housemates. Picture: Getty

“Having it written out – who pays for what and what percentage or amount – means when the bills come, it isn’t an awkward conversation,” she adds.

First up is how much rent each person should pay. “How you fairly split the rent between housemates depends on the house, the facilities and who is running it,” Travers says.

“If you’re setting up a house with mates, you can choose to split the house in different ways to make it even, but most share homes are established or run by one person.

“And the easier way to do it then is by making each room a specific amount, depending on the prices in the area,” she says.

A bedroom with an ensuite and walk-in robe should cost more than a bedroom with a shared bathroom. “Everywhere I have rented out rooms, the larger room was more, even if only $10.

Most properties have a master with a larger wardrobe, more space and often an ensuite, she adds. “All those things together can equate to $50 or more a week in value.”

Other perks, like a garage spot should be reflected in the room rent too, especially if there is only one, Travers says.

“You need to work out who has what and what each bit is worth. In some scenarios though, it can be an even split; one person gets the regular bedroom and the garage, while another gets the master with the ensuite,” she says.

When it comes to bills, an even split is often the best approach, as it can be tricky to track individual usage.

“An easy way to get around issues about usage is to thoroughly interview people and check out their habits before moving in together.

“This way you can ensure you’re living with like-minded people and you’re on the same page when it comes to electricity usage and payments,” Travers says.

“If you end up in a situation where one person is using electricity non-stop, you need to come to an agreement. For example, I lived with someone who wanted the air-conditioning on overnight. They paid the extra for that convenience.

While most people have mobiles for phone calls, removing the need for a landline, fixed internet charges can be split.

“You can get cheap unlimited plans and split the cost or each person can have their own portable internet,” Travers says.

Food costs can also be shared. “The best arrangement will depend on the housemates’ preferences. In some share homes, everyone putting in for food and shopping together works,” Travers says.

“Or you can have a kitty for communal expenses, such as milk and bread, but everyone buys everything else themselves.

“If you are living with someone who is super strict in the way they eat, on a special diet or fanatical about money, it’s easier for everyone to do it themselves and not bother splitting the groceries.”


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