Skip navigation

Spare Bedroom FAQ

Here's some more info regarding the citywide push to encourage more people to do their part in addressing the housing crisis. Make sure you check out our short zine and expression of interest page as well as the below FAQ...

Why are we specifically focusing on tertiary students and older women?

Everyone has a right to a home. However some long-term unhoused people need wraparound support services which the average homeowner probably isn't equipped to provide. Rather than trying to directly support people in crisis who have complex needs, owner-occupiers and long-term renters with spare bedrooms are perhaps best placed to help prevent people from becoming unhoused in the first place. Single older women and young adults who are studying at university or TAFE are key demographics at high risk of becoming unhoused due to rising rents.

Isn’t Australia in a housing crisis because there is an undersupply of housing?

Not exactly. On the night of the 2021 censusthere were over 1 million empty homes and 13 million empty bedrooms.[1] This is at a time when half the population was in lockdown (i.e., unlikely to be away traveling), there was minimal tourism, and much fewer backpackers and international students. There are more than enough houses to house everyone. The problem is not supply but distribution.

Does Australia have a 'spare bedroom' problem?

Yes. Even real estate companies recognise this.[2] 42% of Australian households have more bedrooms than people [ABS data], and accounting for couples, over 70% of Australian households have spare bedrooms.[3] Isn’t it bizarre world that we live in when there are bedrooms unused alongside people unhoused? And not just a few of them - millions of bedrooms are empty [4] while a few hundred thousand people don’t have housing.

Important conversations to have before renting out your spare bedroom

Some questions to ask yourself and your potential housemates when deciding if you are a good match:

  • What do you want in a housemate?
  • Have you ever lived with a housemate before? What did you like/dislike about the experience?
  • How long do you plan to stay?
  • What do you like to do on weekends?
  • How often do you clean your current home?
  • How often do you cook? Do you have any dietary preferences?
  • Do you have any allergies or sensitivities?
  • Do you like to have friends over or go out?
  • What’s your daily routine? What time do you usually wake up and go to bed?
  • What's your current romantic situation? How often does your partner(s) stay the night?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • How often do you spend weekends or time away?

If they're a good match, you'll want to have a follow-up conversation about boundaries and expectations around what being a good housemate means to you:

  • When are the “quiet times” in your house when everyone should keep noise to a minimum? Does this change on weekends?
  • Is it okay for people to borrow/share basic foods and other consumables (e.g. milk, tea bags, washing powder) when they run out? If borrowing, is the expectation to replace them? Within what timeframe?
  • Are there any sentimental or fragile household items stored in common spaces which you would prefer your housemate doesn’t use?
  • What are your expectations if your housemate wants to have friends over for a get-together? (How much notice should they give you for larger gatherings? And do you want them to let you know beforehand if they're just having one or two friends dropping in?)
  • What are your expectations if your housemate wants to have someone stay the night with them in their room?
  • What's the best mechanism to raise issues or conflicts that arise while living together? (A shared messenger chat group? Ad hoc face-to-face conversations? Regular house meetings?)
  • Will you each manage your own food and cooking? Do you want to have any shared meals?

Once they have moved in, you will want to have a conversation around how housework and cleaning is to be shared:

  • What are the expectations around washing dishes? Should they be done immediately or is it okay to wait for a small pile to build up?
  • Do you want to create a cleaning roster?
  • What state should the kitchen be left in after cooking?
  • What are the specific expectations you have around cleaning of shared spaces like lounge rooms and bathrooms? This makes sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Are there certain noisy activities (such as vacuuming or using the washing machine) that shouldn't be done to early in the morning or too late at night? 
  • Are there any chores that one housemate really dislikes but another housemate doesn't mind doing?

Continue Reading

Read More