Creating a happy homesharing relationship isn’t only about finding the right housemate. It also requires clear communication and boundary-setting before and during your time living together. One of the best ways to set those boundaries is by working with your housemate to come up with a set of house rules you both agree on. Here are some commonly asked questions about why and how to create house rules that work for you.
In this article:
- Why establish house rules?
- What house rules should I include?
- What are common examples of house rules?
- How should COVID-19 expectations fit into my house rules?
- What if my housemate isn't living within the spirit of our house rules?
Why establish house rules?
Setting and communicating clear boundaries and expectations is the foundation of a good homesharing experience. Not only do house rules help qualify and vet potential housemates, but they provide something written to revisit in case of disagreements.
Note: Silvernest Plus membership comes with the Nest Easy Homesharing Agreement template, which has a pre-built section for house rules. Learn more about the Nest Easy Homesharing Agreement.
What house rules should I include?
We recommend being open and transparent with the rules that are important to you, so don’t hold back. For example, if you value quiet, make that known in terms of guest policies, quiet hours and expectations around TV and music use. House rules are an important opportunity to provide guidance around the type of home environment you want to have or maintain, so don’t overlook them or feel like too many rules will dissuade potential housemates. The right housemate for you will appreciate the rules you are communicating.
What are common examples of house rules?
Space: What space can be shared? What is private? What things/appliances might be off-limits?
Communication: What is each housemate's communication preference? (Text, email, handwritten notes, phone calls, a knock on the door?)
Noise levels: Do you always prefer quiet? Are there times when TV or music can be playing and it does not bother you? Are you someone who always likes the TV on?
Interaction: How much interaction do you want on a daily basis? Are there times when you are more available for chatting than others? Are there times when you’d like to share space, but in silence?
Privacy: How will you communicate your needs regarding privacy? For example, "If my door is closed, please know that I’d like to be left alone," or "If I send you a text it means I’m not in the mood for face-to-face contact but have something important to communicate." Or the simple, “I just need some quiet time.”
Tidiness: What level of tidiness and cleanliness in shared spaces is best for you and your housemate?
Cleaning: Who is responsible for cleaning what? Will you rotate chores, hire a professional cleaner for regular visits, each commit to keeping certain rooms clean, etc.?
Kitchen etiquette: Do you want to share meals or food? If so, how will you negotiate groceries, cooking and cleaning up after a shared meal?
Guests: Is it okay to invite people over? How will you communicate about guests? Is it important to ask before one of you returns home with a friend?
Security: What’s important for each of us to feel safe in the home? Who else has a key to the house? Do we lock the door every time we go in and out? What if the other person is home?
Sleep: What are your sleep habits? On a typical day, what time do you go to bed? What time do you get up? When are your household quiet hours?
Thermostat: Who is in control of the thermostat? Do you have to be in a hot house? A cold house?
How should COVID-19 expectations fit into my house rules?
With the continued uncertainty around COVID-19, we recommend making your pandemic-related preferences clear in your house rules. For example:
- Do you require proof of vaccination for housemates and/or visitors?
- How strictly do you adhere to local/CDC guidance during surges?
- What precautions, if any, do you expect your housemate to take?
- Would your guest policy change if COVID restrictions and/or lockdown were to be reinstituted?
What if my housemate isn't living within the spirit of our house rules?
The most common source of issues between housemates is not communicating early and often when issues arise. If your housemate isn’t living within the spirit of your house rules, we recommend setting a time to sit down and talk through your observations and how the broken rules are impacting you.
If you need more help or would prefer to have an expert third party help guide the conversation, contact the Silvernest team for a referral to a mediation service.
🧠 Related articles
Communicating Effectively with Your Housemate | Preventing Conflict in a Shared Home
About the Nest Easy Homesharing Agreement