What is safeguarding? Essentially, it’s the practice of taking appropriate measures to protect yourself from harm or damage. We’ve already touched on how to vet a potential housemate and the importance of reference checking, so now let’s turn our attention to safeguarding and how it can help you through your journey to find a new housemate.
Include a Third Party
One great way to ensure your safety when searching for a potential housemate is to have a third party present with you when you interact with candidates. This could be a neighbour, a close friend, an adult child, or any other responsible and trustworthy person in your life.
Including a third party provides various benefits. They can offer you an objective view of the situation and provide a second opinion to help you in your decision-making process. They act as a sort of protective layer for you, able to analyze applicants while remaining less emotionally involved. Since they’re more removed from the situation, they can offer a fresh perspective without having to worry that their direct involvement is in any way clouding their judgement.
The presence of a third party also shows your applicants that you’re a part of a social network, and that you have a community of support around you. Just as a precaution, showing potential future housemates that you are not alone helps to ensure that you’re not perceived as vulnerable.
The same holds true once your housemate has moved in. Ensure that you have friends and family drop in frequently (and unannounced) so that your new housemate knows you’re not vulnerable or alone.
Homesharing is an excellent opportunity for many people and while there is an element of risk (as with most things), being thoughtful and thorough when screening and vetting applicants is a great way to protect yourself and set a foundation for a truly successful homeshare experience.
The Importance of Boundaries
Before your new housemate moves in consider the boundaries you'd like to set. For example, you might want to limit access to the mailbox to exclusively the homeowner, who then distributes the mail to all respective recipients. This practice avoids having to stress about losing keys or losing access to the mailbox, and it can simplify your cohabitation. It isn’t a matter of trust, or control - setting clear boundaries early on is a surefire way to ensure that you are safe and that you and your new housemate are on a path to success.
Protect Your Privacy
Something to consider when welcoming a housemate into your home is whether or not you’re leaving important information vulnerable. Many people develop certain quirks and organizational systems throughout their lives that eventually start to feel like second nature. However, when you welcome someone new into your home, it’s important to consider whether your habits are safe or if they’re putting you at risk.
For example, some people keep track of their passwords and banking information by leaving details on the inside of their pantry doors or desk drawers. This is a great technique when you live alone or with trusted family, but with a new housemate, it’s the sort of habit that could leave you and your information vulnerable.
Safeguarding as Protection
Homesharing is a remarkable experience and following safeguarding tips like these can help you to stay safe and worry-free. When welcoming someone into your home it’s critical that you establish and enforce boundaries to protect yourself and your privacy, and don’t shy away from enlisting help from a friend while meeting applicants. Any step that keeps you safe and comfortable is a step worth taking!
If you’re still unsure and would like more information on how to be safe and secure throughout your homeshare experience, reach out to us here at HomeShare Alliance. Our marvelous team has the experience and know-how to guide you through the safeguarding process!