When it comes to expenses in a household, sometimes it can get a little tricky. Having some structure in place can help eliminate any confusion between housing companions, and can help prevent conflict in the future.
If the homeowner or primary tenant is living in the home, they are usually responsible for collecting the monthly expenses (rent and utilities), and paying the bills. Everybody in the house should be responsible for contributing to the expenses that are not monthly, such as toilet paper, condiments, cleaning supplies, etc.
If a different structure might work better for your household, make sure to discuss who is responsible for what, and how you might share these expenses fairly.
Here are a few examples of expenses to discuss:
If you decide to split utilities, you can either tag on a set amount onto the monthly rent to cover utilities, or ask everybody to contribute a percentage of the bills each month. Make sure to hang a copy of the utilities bills on the fridge so everybody in the household can make sure the payments are fair. Sometimes utilities such as electricity can be higher in the winter, and lower in the summer. Consider this when discussing a flat amount for utilities. Each house is different!
Tip for homeowners: Take your utility bills from the last 12 months, add them up and divide by 12. This will be your monthly average utility rate. Then divide this equally among everyone in the home. This allows you to charge a flat monthly rate for utilities, which should be included in the rent.
When living with housing companions, we encourage you to share meals as often as you can. It can be a fun and exciting way to get to know each other, and perhaps learn about each other’s histories. Depending on how often you’d like to share meals, perhaps one person can do the grocery shopping this time, then the other person can do it next time. You may also consider splitting the groceries 50/50 each time you want to share a meal together. If you will mostly be eating separately from each other, make sure to discuss whether or not you will share condiments, coffee, sugar/salt etc. If a condiment runs out, who’s turn is it to replace it?
Similarly to the condiments in the fridge, once the toilet paper, soap or cleaning supplies run out, who’s turn is it to stock up next? If you each have your own bathroom, you may consider being responsible for your own items.
Typically, most basic repairs will be the responsibility of the homeowner/landlord, as long as they are caused by everyday wear and tear. When a new Guest is arriving, a move-in inspection of some sort should be conducted in order to assess any previous damage to the home, including the furniture and appliances.
Additionally it is the guests responsibility to keep the home up to a high standard of cleanliness and livability otherwise they are liable for additional damages. The government of BC has laid out some guidelines of what repairs should be paid for by the Guest in a typical rental situation:
To learn more about the issue check out this article