There are challenges when it comes to living with other people – we’re all different, we have different expectations and different approaches to life. Whether you’re living in a house full of professionals or friends from university you’ll find that the flashpoints are the same for everyone.
Perhaps the biggest problem in a shared house, arguments over cleaning normally arise because one or more housemates is doing nothing, or one feels like they are doing everything. Particularly if you don’t know your other housemates, sometimes the easiest solution is just to get a cleaner – yes it’s another bill to divide up but it means you don’t have to go through the tedium of cleaning rotas or shouting about tidemarks in the bath. If your rent includes a weekly cleaner then even better.
Be aware of which bills your name is on in a shared house and make sure all these are paid on time so that you don’t negatively affect your credit record. In most shared houses one housemate is responsible for one bill so that it doesn’t all fall to one person to manage everything. When a housemate leaves then whoever takes over the room also takes over the bill. Make it one of the house rules that if bills aren’t paid on time then whoever missed the payment makes good any changes that are incurred as a result. Finally, when it comes to paying each other for bills, try to use standing orders so that there is no monthly chasing for payments you’ve already made.
Whether you’ve got a sibling who wants to stay or housemates with girlfriends or boyfriends who just never seem to leave, guests can be a real source of problems for housemates. Agree between you what the maximum length of time is for guests – for example, a long weekend – and then stick to it, with no exceptions. If you agree to someone’s partner essentially moving in then make sure they’re paying their share of rent and bills. However, be wary of subletting – where a housemate rents out his or her room to someone else – as this could be a breach of the tenancy agreement that may allow the landlord to force all of you to leave.
Missing rent payments
The consequences of not making rent payments can be severe, particularly if this happens a lot, which is why it’s important to choose your housemates carefully. You will most likely have to cover the cost of any housemates who don’t pay their rent and that can be intimidating if you don’t know the people that you’re living with. When you meet the housemates for the first time before moving in, find out what they do and try to get an idea of whether there could be any financial issues.
One key factor housemates need to agree on is what is an acceptable level of noise. If you don’t respond well to door slamming, late night chatting and loud music then make sure your housemates feel the same way. The usual flashpoints when it comes to noise are music, computer games, TV, sex, talking, walking around on a wooden floor, coming home late, door slamming.
Arguments and conflicts happen even within families so it’s no surprise that they are common between people who don’t know each other that well too. Generally, moving past an argument is best for everyone – letting things go and resolving problems without emotion is much better for everyone. If you want to avoid being the cause of arguments then be a good housemate. Don’t take people’s food, don’t be noisy and clean up after yourself.
This article is provided as a guide. Any information should be used for research purposes and not as the base for taking legal action. The Tenants' Voice does not provide legal advice and our content does not constitute a client-solicitor relationship.
We advise all tenants to act respectfully with their landlords and letting agents and seek a peaceful resolution to problems with their rented property. For more information, explore the articles in our HMO category.
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