Why have house rules? When should they be presented to the guest? What happens when a person breaks a rule?
Why have house rules?
When should they be presented to the guest?
What happens when a person breaks a rule? There is nothing more frustrating than when something that is seemingly obvious is not understood or followed, leaving you to clean up the mess and solve interpersonal disputes. Problems will happen, but with the right techniques and systems in place, you can limit the consequences.
Why have house rules? Because for SOME people, things are not that obvious or they have a different culture or have not lived with other people before. For example, the long-debated issue of the toilet seat – why should I put the toilet seat down when I´m the only person using it and I like it to be up? When 2 or more people are sharing a space, it automatically becomes necessary to find a common understanding or establish some simple house rules. Can I bring guests after 10 PM? Shoes inside? Can my dog sit on the couch?
I firmly believe, that most people like to have rules in place. It saves a lot of pent up frustrations and inner blood boiling. Most importantly, you should at the very least, establish some rules concerning cleanliness. The more people that share a space the more the rules need to be visible and repeated. On the bathroom wall is where you often see: Leave the bathroom cleaner than when you entered. It’s not enough to just have shown the rules once they get the house-viewing. People forget.
When should they be presented to the guest? The simple answer is BEFORE you allow them to book your space. In the booking terms or on the contract. This is the first place where you displayed your rules in writing. Then, by booking with you, they have “accepted” these rules. Next is the walkthrough of the space. Take ample time to show the space, its content and explain the rules. You will often get: Yes, I lived with other people before and don’t need this walkthrough. Take this as a warning: They might have been exposed to bad routines and habits, and their attitude can be a signal of not wanting to change what they already know. But again, they might come with good examples on how to optimize your space, so ask questions on what they used to do where they lived before.
Present rules in as many places in the house as possible. From labels on kitchen drawers and cabinets to that all-important “Please don’t leave things in the sink” note above the sink. Make the signs decorative/easy to see.
What happens when a person breaks a rule? They need to get a verbal warning in person from a host in the house, preferably with another member of staff alongside you as a witness. Always explain why the rule is put in place and what they should have done.
When the same person is breaking the same rule continuously, issue them with a written warning. Things are then documented and it will be your base for an eviction if needed. People breaking rules repetitively have a tendency to be troublemakers and might involve lawyers if they feel that they will be evicted. This is when you should have a lawyer available that has a good knowledge of the laws concerning eviction. They will deal with this professionally.
Ideas for House Rules: Don’t download all of your movies and TV series, stream them instead. This will be less stress on the internet speed. Keep the house quiet between 10 PM – 9 AM. Clean pans/utensils after your meal – don’t let them fester in the sink. Acknowledge people when they come and say hi. (I know it sounds obvious, but we all get lost in our screens/books sometimes – and being ignored can make others feel lonely or insecure). Learn the names of your fellow residents and take the time to properly introduce yourself. Keep bathroom utilities in your accessory-bag or a basket that you can bring in/out as you use it. Don´t have meetings with outsiders in the coworking-space. Use meeting-rooms if any, or take a walk in the area around the house. Don’t listen to music or watch movies on your speakers, use your headphones. Don´t leave your personal things in the common area. It can be mistaken for being communal and be broken or misplaced. If there are lockers in the rooms; keep your valuables in there at all times. If cooking smelly food, please open the windows to reduce a lingering smell. Leave your shoes neatly. Don’t slam doors. Be sure to close the doors and windows securely when leaving the property.
There are a lot of good sources for inspiration when searching Google for “home-sharing house rules”.