Sharing a house is often the cheapest way to live, particularly if you’re in a city, and you may get a better property for a lower rent if you’re happy to share. However, this means that you will be sharing your living space with other people and whether they’re strangers or you’re moving in with a bunch of people you know, this can be a challenge. Approach it carefully and with the aid of our list of tips.
Put some thought into who you live with
Unless you’re very, very relaxed when it comes to your housemates, choose to live with people you are a good match for. Either that or make sure you have a sole tenancy so you’re not tied in to the group legally and can leave if things get difficult.
Keep it simple when it comes to bills
The problems that arise with bills normally happen as a result of things getting complex, for example trying to divide up a house telephone bill or work out an apportionment of rent and bills when someone has had a friend to stay for more than a weekend. Go for the simple approach instead – no house phone and everything else split equally, regardless. If you have a sole tenancy then request an individual meter from the landlord.
Don’t leave people out
Joint HMO tenancies often come with a group dynamic and within that problems between housemates usually come down to something very simple, such as feeling left out. Include all your housemates in the big decisions that affect everyone in the house, especially those that will result in people having to hand over cash for something. This includes, whether to renew the tenancy or give notice, which broadband supplier to opt for, whether to get a cleaner, when non-housemates can stay and for how long. If decisions are made as a house then no one can shirk responsibility or complain after the event.
Avoid being passive aggressive
If you have a problem with someone – or something someone is doing – then raise it calmly and like an adult. Don’t leave notes, move things or ragefully slam doors or leave the room when someone enters. This will just make the atmosphere difficult and uncomfortable for everyone.
Introduce some house rules
There’s no need to go all our and draw up a list of rules or make people swear allegiance to the house commandments but simple decisions on important issues can help you all stay civil. For example, if the rooms don’t have locks is it acceptable to go into someone’s room when they are not there? Do you want to have limits on overnight guests? What time is an acceptable finish time for noise on weeknights?
Be a good housemate
Everyone has moments when they are a truly terrible housemate but if you can keep these to a minimum then you’ll find others will too. Be open to sharing your possessions, especially if they are sitting in a shared space and don’t come down like a ton of bricks on someone who borrows a slice of toast or a tea bag from your stash once in a while. Clear up after yourself, don’t slam doors, flush the toilet (!), be generally clean and smiling and give people space if you can see that they just don’t want to have a chat right now.
Be a group
If there’s one thing that helps to diffuse housemate problems it’s socialising together. So much can be forgiven over a couple of drinks or a coffee and the more you and the other tenants like each other, the more forgiving you’re likely to be. Especially if you don’t know your housemates, make an effort to cook together, to get to know each other and to spend time in your communal areas – you don’t have to love your housemates but liking them will make life easier for everyone.
Disclaimer: 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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