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Sharing rented accommodation

If you want to rent a home from a private landlord, it's usually cheaper to share a flat or house with a group of people rather than living on your own.

Since sharing your living space with other people can sometimes lead to problems, it's important to consider what sort of home you would like to move into.

You may want to think about whether:

  • you want to live in a single sex home, with all male or female housemates
  • you'd be prepared to live with a couple
  • you'd like to live in a smoking or non-smoking home

Types of tenancy agreement

If you're sharing rented accommodation there are different types of tenancy agreement.

Tenancies which began before 1 December 2017 will usually be assured or short assured – this is the case when you're renting on your own too. The main difference between these is that it's easier for the landlord to get the property back if it's a short assured tenancy.

Tenancies which began on or after 1 December 2017 will be private residential tenancies. It's no longer possible to create new assured or short assured tenancies.

There are also different types of shared accommodation tenancies that have an effect on your rights and responsibilities.

Joint tenancy

If all the tenants signed a single tenancy agreement with the landlord when you moved in, you will have a joint tenancy and will share rights and responsibilities.

If you have a private residential tenancy, you may have 'signed' the tenancy agreement by typing your name on a document, but if all the tenants are named on the tenancy agreement it's still a joint tenancy.

Get advice on your rights in a joint tenancy on the Shelter Scotland website.

Separate tenancies

If each person signed a separate agreement with the landlord, you are likely to have separate tenancies, and may have different rights depending on when each of you moved in.

Sole tenancy

If you are the only person whose name is on the tenancy agreement, you will be a sole tenant. This means you will be the only person responsible for paying the rent and bills and keeping the property in good condition.

Your landlord

Before choosing a property to move into, you may want to consider what kind of landlord you want.

You may want a landlord you can speak to directly, or prefer dealing with a letting agent instead.

You may also have to decide whether you want a resident landlord (one who lives with you) or a non-resident one. Each has its advantages but your tenancy is less secure if you share your home with a landlord, because it will be a 'common law' tenancy.

You should also check to make sure your landlord is registered with the council – landlords have to do this by law in Scotland. You may also want to ask them if they're 'accredited' – this means they perform their landlord duties to a high standard and have had this confirmed by a professional organisation.

HMO licences

Mandatory licensing applies to houses or flats occupied by 3 or more unrelated people who share bathroom or kitchen facilities.

If your landlord rents to 3 or more unrelated people, they must have a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence. This is the responsibility of the landlord.

To find out whether a property has an HMO licence, ask your landlord or contact your local council. They have a list of all the licensed landlords in their area.

Get advice on your rights in an HMO on the Shelter Scotland website. 

Agreeing house rules

Whether you know your housemates well or have never met them before, you should agree a set of house rules with them to help prevent problems in the future.

Among the rules you might want to agree on are:

  • which part of the house or flat will be your part
  • whether there are any rooms you're not allowed to go into
  • whether there's a cleaning rota
  • if there's a no smoking rule
  • whether other housemates' partners (or other guests) will be able to stay over regularly
  • a house policy on parties
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