Living in a share house is a rite of passage for many uni students. There’s nothing quite like the joy of coming home to find your housemate has decided to have a house party on a Monday night when you have an exam the next day. Although the flip side is finding a bunch of people who you can laugh, cry and share budget vegan recipes with as you make memories that last a lifetime.
But for many students the share house experience is often their first time living out of home – and often the first time they realise all of the things their family may have taken care of, like keeping their home safe and secure from things like vandalism and burglary.
While all homes face these risks, living in a share house might mean you’re less likely to take some basic precautions to keep your home safe. In share houses the responsibility for everything is shared (obviously) so you can’t just rely on one person to do all the heavy lifting.
Here are five simple tips to get you and your housemates on top of your share house security.
Home security basics
You should give your share house a thorough safety and security check regularly. Simple things such as testing and making sure all locks on doors and windows are working properly will decrease the risk of your house being broken into.
Once you have checked that all your locks are secure and working, make sure everyone who lives in the share house has a key so there is no need to leave any doors open when you’re out, or even when you’re at home.
When you do go out don’t forget to lock your windows, your bedroom door (if it’s lockable) and any other doors or entrances, even if you’re only going out for a short time.
If you find that any of your locks or other security features need to be fixed, contact your landlord or real estate straight away as they have obligations as part of your residential tenancy agreement.
If your share house has a spare key, mutually agree with your housemates on a secure location for it to be kept (perhaps with someone’s parent or a trusted neighbour or friend) and keep that information between housemates only.
NSW Police has a Home Security Fact Sheet that has some great tips for helping you keep your property secure.
Establish a good relationship with your landlord
If you do a security check and find things that need to be fixed, your landlord / real estate agent is required by law to assist you (visit Tenants NSW for more information on your rights as a tenant). If you have concerns or recommendations regarding installing or updating existing safety protocols including outdoor sensor lighting and CCTV or alarm systems, having a mutually respectful and positive relationship with your land lord / real estate agent will increase your confidence when having the discussion.
Get to know your neighbours
Although it might be a little difficult to approach your neighbours for the first time, making an effort to be friendly is worth any awkward small talk if it ensures you can count on the people living closest to you.
Mutual acts like bringing in each other’s bins or watching out for strange activity when someone is away are extremely important as your neighbours may be your best asset in times of trouble and they’ll be more willing to lend a hand to a friend than a stranger.
Keep your valuables out of sight
When living in a share house you should always remember to keep your valuables including electronic devices out of sight when not in use.
Make sure to encourage your housemates to do the same in order to decrease the risk of property theft by opportunistic thieves.
Be careful when posting on social media
Think twice before posting that picture online boasting about your new computer or declaring the dates you’re going on holiday. Be careful about broadcasting your location using location-based services on your social media too. The only people who need your address are the people you want to be there.
Living in a share house can be one of the best experiences of your life, but it’s also the time when you may start to discover what adulting is all about. Keeping your home secure is just one of the many responsibilities that come with growing up – and absolutely worth the effort for your peace of mind.