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by Cora L. Diekman

First and foremost, remember that your mom doesn’t live here.

This is a life lesson that’s best learned early, and applied everywhere – at the office, on vacation, and especially in a shared house situation. It’s called maturity, and there’s no better time to start taking care of yourself (and your mess) than NOW.

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All tenants should be respectful at all times to others and guests.

This is obvious, but bears stating and repeating. If this one rule could be followed at all times, the others would be automatically covered. Just remember that other tenants’ guests deserve the same respect as your housemates, and you’ll avoid many a future conflict.

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Each tenant is responsible for his or her guest(s).

Just as every guest deserves respect, tenants should be mindful of their guests’ conduct in the house. If things get too rowdy or if house rules are broken, it’s your responsibility to take the party elsewhere or ask your guests to leave. Period.

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No loud noise after 10pm on weekends. Weeknight quiet hours are 9pm – 9am.

Understand that not everyone is a night owl, and odds are your fellow housemates have to, you know, work. Probably in the morning. At least some of them. Be courteous, keep noise at a minimum, and expect others to follow suit.

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Remove laundry from the laundry room promptly. Do not leave laundry in the washer, dryer, or in any common area unattended.

In most situations, linens are not supplied (BYOL). Regardless, be mindful of the laundry facilities and aware that everyone needs their fair share of time for washing and drying. Hang around long enough to get your washing done, and avoid leaving traces of your clothes and linens (dirty or clean) around for others to trip over and clean up.

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No smoking in OR around the house. Period.

Short, sweet, and to the point. There are plenty of reasons smoking should be prohibited, so this should come as a surprise to no one.

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Weekly cleaning crew fee included in rent, but tenants are responsible for keeping the house clean of clutter, dishes, and trash.

It’s a great idea to have a cleaning crew come in once per week to take care of the major stuff, but this doesn’t address everyday personal messes, like dishes, laundry, trash, and general clutter. Clean up after yourself immediately.

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No pets.

In a share house situation, a no pet policy is the best way to avoid conflicts that can arise due to noise, allergies, smells, and general cleanliness. Yes, pets are great, but with several people living in close quarters, not everyone will be on board.

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No illegal drug use or substances on the property at any time.

Another rule that needs no explanation, and any violation should be grounds for eviction.

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Be respectful of common areas and furniture – treat everything as if it were your own.

Common areas are likely to see the brunt of share house conflict. Let’s face it – sharing is difficult, and it takes diligence, maturity, and practice. While it’s easy to get caught up in the small things, remember the Golden Rule and treat everyone (and everything) as you would want yourself and your own belongings treated.

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Eating is permitted in dining room and kitchen only. Clean up immediately after eating and dispose of any trash.

Remember that this is a shared house, and cleanliness is key. Keep food out of the bedroom, and tidy up promptly. Despite the fact that food scraps attract pests, crumbs have no place on the sofa.

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Be considerate of other tenants’ mail. If you collect the mail, please place it in the agreed upon mail bin so that others can retrieve theirs as needed.

It’s best to have designated mail slots for each tenant, but even if you’re depositing mail into a single bin, be prompt and organized about delivering mail straight from the box to the bin. Misplacing others’ mail is not cool.

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Copying keys is forbidden.

Despite the safety issue, this is simply not considerate in a share house. All tenants deserve to feel safe within the home, and extra keys create a security nightmare.

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Lock the door every time you leave.

Depending on where you live, this may not be a habit of yours. (Lucky you!) But if you’re moving into a share house, it’s time to start – if not for the safety of yourself, for the peace of mind and security of others.

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Everyone must chip in for supplying communal supplies, like toilet paper, paper towels, laundry soap, etc.

Whether you create a cash kitty, or collect money on a weekly or monthly basis, everyone must contribute to communal supplies equally. It’s just fair.

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Food is purchased on an individual basis, unless otherwise agreed upon with fellow tenants.

Unless other arrangements are made, groceries will most likely be purchased individually (at least most of the time). Be mindful of what’s yours and what’s not, and ask before reaching for your roommate’s leftovers.

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Communal laundry items (bath mats, dish towels, etc) will be done on a rotating schedule and everyone will participate (if this is not covered by a cleaning crew).

If you have a weekly cleaning crew, these items may be taken care of already. If not, create a rotating schedule so that everyone does their fair share of cleaning.

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Even if you don’t cook, everyone who eats is responsible for helping with cleanup.

This is simple manners, and should be remembered for future reference.

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If someone breaks something, they are responsible for repairing or replacing it.

At the very least, ask about paying for the item in question, or ask the house owner or manager how to make things right. Yes – you break it, you buy it.

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Intentional damage to the property will be charged at 150% the cost of repair, and will result in immediate eviction.

This goes without saying, but because you never know – we’re saying it. Vandalism will not be tolerated, period.

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Fridge should be cleaned out weekly, and all unused items disposed of properly.

No one wants to clean out your old fridge stock – leftovers, expired milk, uneaten takeout. Yuck. Clean up after yourself, and purge at least once per week.

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Do not leave personal items in communal areas unattended.

This is common courtesy. Unless you’re sharing magazines with fellow house mates, keep personal items in your own room. Shoes, clothing, personal electronics, cosmetics, dishes, and handbags have no business lying about the common area.

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Tenants must report repair issues immediately (plumbing, electrical, communal appliances, etc).

You’ve heard it before – the longer you ignore it, the more expensive it gets. If you notice anything that doesn’t seem quite right, speak up immediately.

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Utilities are shared equally (no discounts for frequent travelers).

Sorry – just because you’re often out of the house, there’s no fair way to discount your portion of the utilities. Even when you travel, your food is still in the fridge, and your room is still being heated or cooled. Expect to pay an even share.

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Any decorating or change to common areas must be agreed upon by all other tenants prior.

It’s just common courtesy. Everyone uses this space, so there must be a consensus on that gallery wall before the first nail is hung.

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Always ask before helping yourself to food that’s not yours.

Has anything started more fights in a shared house (or office, for that matter) than discovering someone has helped themselves to your food? Without asking?!? It’s never okay. Just don’t do it, no matter how long it’s been there.

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Parking is first come, first served. Please do not save spaces or block another tenant’s car.

Unless you’re lucky, chances are that parking will be limited. This means that assigned spaces are not an option, and so a little patience is in order. Never block another tenant’s car. It’s just plain rude.

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House parking spaces are for tenants only. Guests must park on the street.

When parking is at a premium, ALWAYS reserve house parking spots for tenants (sorry, guests).

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DVR space will be shared as equally as possible. Do not delete recordings from the DVR without permission of other tenants.

The DVR can become a digital battleground in shared houses, so pack some patience and understand that space is limited. While it can be impossible to divide DVR space with scientific precision, a little organization on the part of every tenant can keep things running smoothly for all. Delete your content that’s already been watched, and check your recordings frequently for anything that can be purged.

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Guests staying more than one night should be approved by other tenants prior to visiting (this includes boyfriends, girlfriends, family, and friends).

Yes, your best friend/mom/cousin/sister is great, but this is a SHARED house. No one should be staying long term without consent of the other tenants.

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Parties are permitted only if agreed upon in advance by other tenants. Party guests should be respectful of others in the house, and stay no later than 2am (unless permission is granted by other tenants prior).

Again, yes, your friends are great. But be courteous, and remember: SHARED house.

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Every tenant should participate in taking out the trash, especially in common areas. Never leave a full trash can unattended.

Remember when your mom used you yell at you to stop smashing extra items into that already overflowing trash can and JUST TAKE IT OUT?!? Yep, that still applies.

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ALWAYS treat fellow tenants and guests how YOU want to be treated. (This includes their belongings.)

When all else fails, refer to this rule–and have a great summer!