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New housemates – an Expert Interview

Liezl Hesketh in Renters 

Housemates in a house share

Getting housemates and doing house shares are the latest evolution in accommodation and professionals are leaping on the bandwagon. The two main reasons for this trend are the cost of living and companionship without romantic entanglements. Having housemates is much cheaper and more fun than living on your own.

How do you go about finding the right housemates? The interview process is critical. It can be extremely difficult to get people to leave once they’ve moved in. You need to know as much about them as you can up-front. Giving a place to someone you met ten minutes ago at the pub is a no-no! Referrals from friends you trust are best.

Follow a strict interview procedure. Set up a time for the prospect to meet you and two other housemates. If the prospect is late, hasn’t called to tell you and only phones the next day, it’s disrespectful, impolite and irresponsible. Cross him off the list. If he passes the first interview, hold a second with all the housemates present – preferably a dinner. People talk more freely over food.

Important questions to ask prospective housemates:

  • What do you do for a living?
  • What hours do you work? Is there a lot of travel involved?
  • Is your salary stable? Feel free to ask for a three-month bank statement. Freelancers may not be able to meet bills when they’re due, leaving other house mates to foot the bills in the interim. This can breed resentment.
  • What do you do in your downtime? A drummer in a heavy metal band may not be appreciated in a house filled people who like peace and quiet.
  • Do you have any pets/hobbies/stuff.
    ‘Pets’ is pretty explanatory. Cats are small, independent, easy to feed and, in South Africa, generally don’t even need a cat box. But occasionally they claw the furniture and some people are highly allergic to them. Dogs are needy. If the owner is away someone else will have to walk Bruno. A boisterous bull mastiff can be a nightmare. So can a parrot.

Hobbies that aren’t outdoor activities away from the house or can’t be confined to the prospect’s bedroom could end up taking over the dining room, permanently. ‘Stuff’ basically covers white goods and furniture. If the house is in dire need of a dishwasher and you have one, that’s a bonus. If you have a house full of furniture, that could be a problem.

ALSO READ: Tips for sharing a house

Describing the kind of housemate you’re looking for gives the interviewee the opportunity to pull out on his own. Here are some suggestions.

  • These are our values.
    If the housemates insist that your boy/girlfriend must sleep on the couch and you don’t agree, look elsewhere.
  • This is the kind of person we’re looking for. Describe the kind of person that would best fit with the existing housemates.
    If you’re a party animal and their idea of a good night in is playing Monopoly, look elsewhere.
  • Everyone has a role to play, household responsibilities to manage and must abide by the house rules. No exceptions.
  • This is how the finances work: costs and benefits. These are non-negotiables.

Does this seem extreme? Remember, you’re not just sharing a house. You’re sharing your life. You need to be surrounded by people you trust and enjoy.

If you’re looking for a new housemate, you simply have to try out the profile-based site, TheRoomLink. A matching site which helps to link you up to your perfect next housemates! Fill in a profile today if you’re looking for a house share.