You’re all going to have to live together for a year so it’s a good idea to figure out how to make it work now. Finding out each other’s expectations and negotiating how you’re going to address various issues now will help to avoid a lot of arguments and drama down the track.
A flatting agreement is a way of working out how to keep the flat going throughout the year and taking into account everyone’s different lifestyles and opinions on how things should be done. Have someone keep notes on your discussion and at the end get everyone to look over it so it accurately reflects your discussion and sign it at the bottom. Here are some things to consider:
- Bedrooms: Who gets what? How will rooms be assigned and how will you compromise if everyone isn’t happy? Are any rooms significantly better than others, and how should rent be adjusted to reflect this?
- Flat account: Will there be a flat account and how much will each person put in? Who will be responsible for the flat account? Will you use it to purchase shared items e.g. milk, toilet paper, and what does that include?
- Bills: Whose name will be on the different accounts (e.g.. power, internet), and how will you make this a fair deal so they don’t end up having to a) be the unpopular one that who chases everyone up, or b) get stuck having to pay extra to cover other people’s share? Will bills be divided up at the end of the month or will everyone put a set amount each week into the flat account? Be aware that power bills will go up in winter so don’t forget to budget for this.
- Out of town: If someone goes out of town how will the costs be split? Should they pay as usual, pay nothing, or pay a smaller amount?
- Cooking: Will you have flat meals? How will you budget for these and decide whose turn it is to cook? Or will you just do your own thing?
- Cleaning: Tenants are responsible for keeping the property reasonably clean and tidy. Will you have a cleaning and chores roster and how will you divide tasks? What’s the timeframe for completing chores? Will everyone be responsible for their own dishes or will there be a dish roster? Get an idea of everyone’s standards of cleanliness and negotiate some reasonable requirements, for example: not hoarding dishes in bedrooms, using the toilet brush when appropriate. How will you make sure everyone is pulling their weight, and what will the consequences be if someone slacks off? Have a look at our downloadable chore wheel to help keep everyone on track with their regular chores.
- Visitors and partners: What’s everyone’s expectations and comfort level around guests? Discuss various scenarios e.g. some of the flatties want to have mates over for drinks but you have to get up early for work or have to study, what happens then? Will you have no party periods e.g. at exam time? Can friends and/or partners stay over? How often can they stay before they are expected to contribute to costs? Can people crash in the lounge or should they stay in someone’s bedroom?
- Drugs, alcohol, smoking: What is and isn’t ok? When? Where?
These are just a few of the common areas of tension, but feel free to brainstorm more.
OUSA Student Support can provide a template for a flatting agreement and can help out with some impartial guidance if it’s getting tricky to reach an agreement. Feel free to book an appointment at Student Support if you would like to discuss flatmate agreements further.