Selasa, 31 Januari 2012

Share Housing Month

February is traditionally the time of year when many new share houses start up – and many existing share houses get a new lease on life as new housemates move in. And it's Share Housing Month on the Brown Couch, too.

(Share housing)

Whether you're just starting out or are an old hand, it's a good time to think about getting your house in order – particularly to make sure that your share house arrangements are covered by the Residential Tenancies Act.

If you're on the tenancy agreement with the landlord of the premises, you're covered. If you're not, consider doing one of the following:
  • Get a written sub-tenancy agreement. A sub-tenancy is where you have an agreement with someone who is a tenant of the premises. This person (the 'head-tenant') is your landlord, and you're their tenant. It is most important to GET THIS AGREEMENT IN WRITING – if it's not in writing, it's not worth the paper it's not written on. This is a new rule for share housing (see section 10 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010, now one year old), but it applies to share houses that have been around longer than that, so if you're a sub-tenant on the basis of a handshake a couple of years ago, things have changed. Get your sub-tenancy agreement in writing – it doesn't need to be the many-paged thing landlords and agents use. Try this one the Tenants' Union has prepared. 
  • Get a co-tenancy created. A co-tenancy is where you and your housemates are jointly the tenants of the premises, on equal footing (that is, no 'heads', no 'subs'). Keep in mind you're also jointly and severally liable – the landlord can hold any one of you liable for debts or damage caused by any or all of the others.  You can get a co-tenancy created by entering into a new agreement with the landlord with all your names on it; alternatively, an existing tenant can transfer a share of their tenancy to you. Either way, you should get the landlord's consent, and get the arrangement in writing.
  • Get recognised as a tenant in your own right. If the population of your share house has turned over so much that no-one currently living there is on the agreement with the landlord, you should try to get a tenancy in your own right. Do this by asking the landlord or agent for a new agreement, or apply to the Tribunal for an order recognising you as a tenant and vesting a tenancy in you.
And you're good to go! Enjoy!