Sharehousing: When Things Go Wrong
When there's more than one person sharing the same space, conflict is bound to happen. It's normal to get annoyed when your housemates don't always respect the rules and your boundaries.
Hopefully you'll be able to sort these small problems out without too much trouble.
Most household conflict can be avoided through mutual respect, tolerance and clear communication. But when things escalate and can't be sorted out yourselves, a dispute resolution (new window) or mediation service (new window) may help. Both parties have to agree to mediation, but an independent mediator can help you resolve problems.
If you're subjected to violence, threats of violence or harassment by a housemate, you can apply for an Intervention Order (new window) at your local Magistrates' Court (NOTE: you don't have to be experiencing conflict with a family member to request an Intervention Order).
The Domestic Violence Liaison Officer at your local police station can help and apply for an Intervention Order on your behalf if you are genuinely afraid for your safety. You should also ask your network of friends and family for support or temporary accommodation.
More information about household violence can be found at the Love: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly website (new window) - this is mostly about relationships, but the advice applies to violence between housemates too.
Paying the Bills
Get a monthly phone bill. This allows regular, smaller payments.
If the phone bill is in your name and you're concerned about your housemates calling long distance and not paying, ask your phone company to request an STD/ISD bar on all long distance calls.
If a housemate refuses to pay a bill and it's in your name, unfortunately you have limited options. The Residential Tenancies Act doesn't cover share houses, and mediation may be the best approach. Court action is expensive, however your local community legal centre (new window) can advise you.
Surprise visits by landlords or real estate agents are illegal. The Tenants Union of Victoria (new window) provides information and legal advice for tenants. Know your rights and be assertive when a landlord is not respecting the law and refusing requests for repairs.
There's more information on your rights and responsibilities when you're renting (as well as those of your landlord) on our Tenants rights page.
Tenant's Union Victoria
Although the Tenant's Union can't help out in share house disputes, they do provide information on tenancy issues.
Consumer Affairs Victoria - Renting
Comprehensive renting guides in different languages for rented premises, caravan parks and rooming houses. Fact sheets target specific issues such making a decision to rent, payments, tenancy problems and bonds.
Reach Out! - All About Managing Money
Advice on managing money and bills in a share house, and more general advice on planning to move out and balance work, education and moving out of home.