Living with Flatmates

Flatmate Finances – A Guide To Solving Disputes Over Share Accommodation Expenses

Are financial disputes causing tension between flatmates in your share house? Different ideas and thoughts about money can often lead to conflict between flatmates. The answer is to find a way to deal with these differences and solve any disagreements as they occur.

The key to solving issues concerning money is to remain cool, calm and collected. Many times issues arise due to simple mistakes or misunderstandings. These can range from a flatmate simply forgetting to pay their expenses as they preoccupied with other things to the nominated bookkeeper giving the wrong change. There are other times when the issues are much larger such as the non-payment of expenses by a flatmate leaving other flatmates to pick up the bill to the mishandling of money by household members.

So, how can your share house solve all of these different kinds of disputes. The steps below will guide you through a step by step process that lets you solve simple issues quickly and helps your household get a grip of more complex problems.

1. Talk To Your Flatmates Or Nominated Bookkeeper
You should start by talking to your flatmate or household bookkeeper on a one-to-one basis. There may have been just a simple oversight or mistake that could be quickly corrected by looking at the Accounts Book and accounting records. It may just be a matter of sitting down quietly, working out the problem and finding a solution together.

2. Hold A Round Table Discussion
If the issue can not be solved between the bookkeeper and a flatmate, a round table discussion should be held including all flatmates at a convenient time for the entire household. By bringing the disagreement into the open where each person can tell their own side of the story, lets each flatmate give their opinion and helps the group decide on a workable solution. A timetable should be set up to implement any recommendations including a review date and meeting.

3. Revisit The Issue
Your review date and meeting can be held a few days or weeks later depending on how long it will take to implement the solution. At the review meeting, all parties should discuss if the solution has been implemented and if any problems arose. If the proposed solution was not implemented you may like to set up a new round table discussion to find a new answer to solve the dispute or alternatively to go to the next step, mediation.

4. Mediation
This option gives all parties the opportunity to be heard by an independent person who can help you reach an agreement in a safe and informal environment. Mediation only works if all parties are willing and able to attend. Many times each person can tell their own story separately and in private. You can find your local community justice centre in your local phone book or through the Internet. These services are often free.

5. Court Proceedings
This should be your last option and should only be used for serious disputes concerning money where an outcome could not be achieved. Seeking legal advice and going to court can be very expensive but may be necessary in some cases. There are other times where you are better off to cut your losses and move on. It’s important to remember that each financial dispute is unique and you need to exercise your own judgement.

Just remember, it doesn’t matter if you’re trying to solve a non-payment issue or feel that your household budget could be managed better, by approaching financial disputes in a calm and factual manner you can help lead the way in finding a suitable solution. It may not always be easy or could take a bit of time but it’s important that these differences are solved before they get out of hand and cause conflict between flatmates that go beyond the realm of household finances.

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