Dear Abe,

I’m having problems with my housemates and I think my landlord is going to make us pay for a few things that got broken. We’re all on the lease but it wasn’t my fault. What should I do?

Need Space

Dear Need Space,

In a rented share house, your legal status depends on a number of possibilities. If you are named on the residential tenancy agreement (your lease) along with one or more others, then you are a co-tenant. Your rights are “equal and several”, so you could be held liable for the actions of your housemates. However, you are also covered under the Residential Tenancies Act.

Try to resolve your problems informally with your housemates first. If the damage was caused by someone else on the lease, you and your housemates should try and come to an agreement as to how things should be paid for. If that doesn’t work you could try talking to your landlord. Remember that you are not required to pay for urgent repairs like hot water or anything that makes the house unsafe. You also shouldn’t have to pay for ‘reasonable wear and tear’ to the property. However, things like walls, floors, cupboards, etc. are your responsibility to keep clean and in good repair.

If your disagreement can’t be worked out informally, or you need advice about how to handle your dispute, speak to your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service or an SRC Caseworker to find out what to do.