There are countless ways to behave in this world. Often, what we interpret as acceptable or not differs from person to person.
And coliving communities are made up of people from many different backgrounds, cultures, and life experiences. Further, the coliving model gives way to people moving in and out more frequently than in the traditional roommate scenario.
This fluidity is why it’s so important for coliving community managers to enforce a set of rules or coliving guide for the diverse house to follow.
Without them, people may accidentally behave in a way that is deemed disrespectful, hurtful, or messy, which can cause unnecessary tension amongst the group.
Rules exist to help to create harmony within a shared space. These rules should be both broad and specific. For example, it’s equally as important for one rule to be “show respect to your housemates” while another is “don’t leave any dirty dishes in the sink”.
Let’s dive in.
Coliving rules for a happy community
A coliving community guide will set the bar for what behaviors are expected in the house and what will not be tolerated. It’s important to not only communicate these rules to residents but to also clearly display them throughout the space as a reminder.
Further, you should discuss the consequences of what happens when residents break a rule at the start of their stay. Convey these ramifications both verbally and via a written statement. If something serious happens and you need to remove a tenant, the action of presenting these scenarios at the start will protect you later if any legal action is taken.
Let’s take a look at 10 coliving community rules that coliving hosts can enforce within their own spaces.
Rule 1: Make the effort to get to know your housemates
Welcome to the community! Now that you’re here, it’s important that you make an effort to get to know your new roommates. Our house thrives when each community member works to learn each other’s names and takes the time to introduce themselves. As this is a shared space, sharing a bit about yourself is an important part of the process. Also, make sure to say hi when people come and go. Being ignored, even by mistake, can make people feel isolated.
Rule 2: Clean up after yourself (if you use it, clean it and tidy it away)
When you use the kitchen, the bathroom, or a shared space, make sure you clean up after yourself when you’re done. Don’t leave a dirty dish in the sink for somebody else to clean up. If you take your toiletries into a shared bathroom to use, pack them up and take them with you when you’re done. If you’re eating out of a takeaway food container in a common area, throw it out/recycle it when you’re finished. Little things like this help to keep the space clean and tidy.
Rule 3: Consult with the house before inviting a group of guests over
Inviting a group of friends over, even if it’s only a few, can be distracting to the other residents. If you want to have friends over, make sure to ask the group first. Of course, when they do come, be respectful of the space by not being too loud, cleaning up after yourselves and being friendly to all of the housemates that come and go.
Rule 4: No phone calls or meetings in the coworking space
Coworking spaces are designed for people to work without distractions. If you need to take a phone call, do it in a meeting room (if there is one) or find a communal space that’s empty. The same goes for business meetings. If you are having coworkers or business partners over, don’t crowd the coworking space to talk shop. The coworking space should be quiet so that people can focus.
Rule 5: Quiet hours are between 10 pm and 9 am
Everybody has different sleep schedules and quiet hours help us to respect them. Quiet hours mean no loud phone calls, media streaming or conversations in shared bedrooms and/or communal areas within this time frame. Think about if you’d enjoy being woken up by somebody else’s noisiness, and then show the same respect to your roommates.
Rule 6: Don’t play your media on speakers — use headphones
Media can be really distracting, and not everybody likes the same things. Plus, if you play your media out loud and it’s bothering somebody else, it puts them in a really uncomfortable position if they have to ask you to turn it off. To avoid any disputes, the rule of thumb is to play it in your headphones unless every single person in the house says it’s ok.
Rule 7: Safety first! Make sure to secure all windows and doors before leaving the property
We’re all sharing a space, which means we rely on each other to keep our stuff, and our roommates, out of harm’s way. Always close and lock all of the doors when you come and go, and if you’re the last one out, secure the windows too. Everybody has valuables inside and it’s our collective job to keep them safe.
Rule 8: If sharing a room, keep your space clean and put all valuables in the lockers
In shared rooms, you need to be smart about maximizing the space you have. You should always tidy up your area and not make a mess. If you leave piles of clothes everywhere, you’re stepping on the toes of your roommates who have to look at your mess. Keeping your items tidy shows a level of respect that we expect out of our residents. If there are lockers in the room, keep your valuables in them for an extra layer of security, too.
Rule 9: Don’t keep your personal items in the common areas
Similar to throwing things out when you’re done, put away your personal items when you leave a common area. The common spaces are meant for everybody to enjoy. Leaving your stuff everywhere means less room for others when they go to use the shared space. Plus, if you store your stuff in a shared space, people may assume it’s communal and use it for themselves or even break it by mistake. Play it on the safe side and never leave anything behind.
Rule 10: If you’re a smoker, take it outside
This may seem obvious, but it’s important to state. There is no smoking allowed inside the house. If you want to know where you can smoke on or nearby the premises, ask your coliving community manager.
How to kindly enforce these rules
These rules must be taken seriously for the community to live as harmoniously as possible.
As stated above, you should chat with each new member about these rules when they move in. Make sure to also send them a written copy that they can refer back to. It’s also smart to display them throughout the house (in the common areas, kitchen, bathroom, etc.) to remind and motivate members to follow the rules throughout their stay.
If somebody commits a serious offense like theft, for example, that would give you cause for removing them from the house.
However, if they break one of the rules above, respectful conversations can be had to correct the behavior before taking any major action.
We recommend following these rules of enforcement:
- Issue a verbal warning: Let the resident know that they’ve broken a rule and explain why the rule exists in the first place. You’ll want to have this conversation in private and away from other members as a show of respect and to create a safe conversational space. After you explain why the rule must be followed, listen to what they have to say in response, if anything, and answer any follow-up questions they have. You want to leave this meeting feeling confident that they won’t break the rules again.
- Issue a written warning: If they do break the rules again, now’s the time to issue a written warning. This is more serious in nature and should state why they are being given a written warning and what will happen if they break the rules again. This way, everything is documented in case you do need to evict the person and back up your reasoning for it.
- Consult a lawyer: If this person continues to break the rules and ignores the warnings, it’s time to consult a lawyer to make sure you are correctly following the legal steps of eviction. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where the person you evict involves lawyers in their defense and finds cause to prove the removal was unjustified or carried out illegally.
- Eviction: The laws concerning eviction vary from space to space. We advise that you consult with your lawyer to make sure that every action you take is in line with the most current laws.
Good rules make for a happy community
Everybody is different, and rules for a shared space help us all live together in peace. Of course, rules can’t prevent disagreements from happening or tensions to rise from time to time, but they certainly help.
By enforcing a set of coliving community rules, you’re giving your residents the best possible chance of getting along, showing mutual respect, and most importantly having a great time together.