Choosing a housemate

Share

You've advertised for a housemate, how can you find a good match? 

Phone screening

Ask many questions when someone makes the initial phone or email enquiry. This saves you time and stress later because you can eliminate people who are clearly not going to fit your expectations. If you believe they could be suitable, arrange a time to meet at the house. Make sure the house is clean and if someone is still living in the room, ask them to make sure it's tidy on the day of the interview.

The interview

It's important that any potential housemates have clear expectations of how the house is run. Be honest. Prepare questions to ask prospective housemates and be prepared to answer theirs.

  • How much are the rent and bills? This is an essential question but one that people forget to ask. It's fairly standard for gas, electricity, water and phone bills to be outside the rental rate.
  • What's a typical routine? Having compatible times for evening and morning routines goes a long way towards establishing domestic harmony. Work and study commitments are important things to consider for most households.
  • How is food shared? Some households love to share food shopping and meals, whereas others assume that you'll take care of yourself.
  • Who's welcome? Many share houses welcome friends and partners, but it's important to ask about how tolerant the house is about parties, family visits and friends staying over.
  • What's the neighbourhood like? Knowing who lives next door and taking a walk around the nearby streets will help you to decide if the area fits your expectations.
  • Does anyone hold extreme religious, political or lifestyle attitudes? Sometimes these differences are irreconcilable, so it's a good idea to know this upfront.
  • Who's responsible? Determine if the new housemate will be added to the lease, sign an agreement, take over a utilities account or contribute bond.
  • What are the house rules? It's easier for everyone if these rules are negotiated, agreed and understood.

Consider taking a friend to the interview for a second opinion. Take notes and get contact details and let your interviewees know when you will be making a decision.

Next steps

Once you've made your decision, make your offer quickly as the housemate you like may be looking at other options. It's also good etiquette to inform the people who were unsuccessful of your decision. Arrange a firm date for the new housemate to move in. 

Make sure your new housemate feels welcome when they arrive, the room is spotless and a key is ready for their use.