If you want to rent a home, 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 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.
However, there are also different types of shared accommodation tenancies that have an effect on your rights and responsibilities.
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 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.
If you are the only person whose name is on the tenancy agreement, you will be a sole tenant. This means you will be responsible for paying the rent and bills and keeping the property in good condition.
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.
You should also check to make sure your landlord is registered with the council and ask them if they're 'accredited' – this means they perform their landlord duties to a high standard and have had this confirmed by an organisation.
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.
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