This is similar to bed and breakfast accommodation except that you’re usually treated as a member of the family and your rent normally includes half-board (breakfast and an evening meal). In lodgings you have less freedom than in a bedsit or studio and are required to eat at fixed times, but at least you have company. Lodgings are often arranged by schools and colleges for foreign students.
A boarding house is similar to lodgings, where the owner takes in a number of lodgers and may provide half-board or cooking facilities. The rent is around the same as for bedsits.
A boarder, lodger or paying guest is termed a ‘licensee’ in law and has fewer rights than a tenant, although it’s often difficult to make a distinction. This applies to anyone lodging with the owner and sharing the bathroom and kitchen. If you’re a ‘licensee’, your landlord cannot increase your rent without your consent, although he can ask you to leave at any time (but must give you adequate time to pack and remove your belongings).
Sharing is another answer to high rents, particularly in major towns and cities, and is popular among students and the young. It usually involves sharing the bathroom, dining room, kitchen and living room of a house or apartment, and may even include sharing a bedroom. All bills are usually also shared (in addition to the rent), including electricity, gas and telephone, and in some cases food bills, as well as chores such as cooking and cleaning. Some landlords may include electricity, gas and water in the rent. As always when living with others, there are advantages and disadvantages to shared accommodation, and its success depends on the participants’ ability to live together.
If you rent a property with the intention of sharing, make sure that it’s permitted in your contract. It’s possible for all sharers to be joint tenants with one tenancy agreement or individual tenants with individual tenancy agreements. However, the law regarding flat-sharing is complicated and it’s simpler when one person is the tenant and sub-lets to the others, which must be permitted by the tenant’s agreement. Whatever the arrangement, you should have a single rent book and pay the rent in a lump sum. It’s usually the occupants’ responsibility to replace flatmates who leave during the tenancy.
The cost of sharing a furnished apartment or house varies considerably according to its size, location and amenities. A rough guide is from $100 (single) to $140 (double) per week with your own bedroom, or up to $250 with your own bathroom.
Sharing is particularly common in major cities, where many newspapers and magazines contain advertisements for flat-sharers, e.g. the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age. (Note that the phrase ‘broad-minded girl/guy’ is usually code for ‘we are lesbian or homosexual’.) There are also agents in major cities who, for a fee of $100 to $200, match sharers with similar interests.