Flat & House Sharing

What it is....

Why Flat share?

  • It’s a great way to reduce the cost of your rent.
    • You can split the rent between all of the flatmates.
    • You can split the bills as well.
      • Electric, Gas, Water, Telephone
      • Council Tax – remember that you won’t need to pay this if you are all students living together. You will need to fill out a form, which you get from your local authority, which will make you exempt for the time that you are studying as a full time student.
  • You can meet new friends.
    • You can make a whole new circle of friends.
    • It can help you settle into University.
  • You may be able to afford a better location.
    • By sharing the rental costs you may be able to move to a nicer area than the one you thought you could afford.
    • You maybe able to move closer to a station or to better shops.

How to cope with flat sharing

Flat sharing can be a fun time or a nightmare. There are some things that you can do to make sure that everyone gets on.

  • Take other people’s habits into consideration.
    • Don’t leave dishes lying around – you might not mind but others will.
    • Think about how loud your TV or music might be – especially if it’s late.
    • You might be a late bird but others might be up with the lark.
    • If you’re going to smoke, take it outside.
    • Don’t use the bathroom for too long. Everyone else will need to use it – especially in the morning.
    • Your habits annoy others as much as theirs annoy you!
  • Sort out a parking arrangement
    • If there is more than one car driver in the flat, come to an agreement on who parks where.
  • Having people stay
    • Mention to your flat mates that you are having someone over to stay.
    • Make sure that your guests don’t overstay their welcome.
    • Make sure that your guests use YOUR share of the food – not everybody elses.
  • Phone sharing
    • Use mobiles when possible. If you have a land-line keep it for incoming calls then you will only have to share the cost of the rental.
  • Shopping
    • Have a kitty for buying things like bread, milk, tea, coffee, bin liners and loo rolls. Agree on a weekly amount to be put in.
    • Buy washing powder, toiletries and food separately. Everyone will have their own likes and dislikes and it will save arguments.
  • Housekeeping
    • Establish a washing up, refuse removal and house cleaning rota.
  • Bills
    • Gas, electricity and water bills should be split equally. Under no circumstances open a joint bills account with a bank. This may have a negative effect on your credit rating should one of your joint account holders have debt problems.
  • Communicate
    • Talk about problems before they become major rows.
    • Don’t form cliques within the flat.

Before you move in….

  • You should make an inventory of everything that is in the flat including its condition.
  • An inventory is simply a list that you compile with your flatmates and the landlord. 
  • Remember curtains, carpets, work surfaces, sinks, bath and toilet as well as the more obvious things like chairs, table, plates, mugs, cutlery etc.
  • An example might be:
    •  4 x white china plates. All used. One with chip on side.
  • Remember to use photos – this will help you to prove what the condition of certain things were before you moved in. Make sure that the photos have a date stamp on them and don’t be afraid of taking too many!
  • All of the tenants and the landlord need to sign off on the inventory. Unless it is signed it is useless. This may not seem important now but it will be when it is time for you to move out.
  • It is possible that the landlord will already have a prepared inventory. DON’T USE IT. It is unlikely to be up to date and will not have the condition of things on it.

Deposit

  • This is normally 1 ½ month’s rent, payable to the landlord as you move in.
  • The landlord should not keep this in his own account.
    • Instead he should be putting it into the Tenancy Deposit Scheme set up by the government in 2007.  This keeps your money is safe and ensures that the landlord can’t use it to go on holiday with!
  • Your deposit is repayable to you in full when you leave. Although the landlord is entitled to make various deductions from your deposit and only repay you the balance remaining.
  • Deductions
    • Cleaning
      • Your tenancy agreement will state that carpets and curtains must be cleaned before you move out (That’s why you check the condition they are in on the inventory before you move in!). If they have not been cleaned the landlord can take the cost of cleaning from your deposit.
      • As a tenant you are only responsible for cleaning anything soiled beyond what would be normally expected as general wear and tear.
    • Damage
      • As a tenant you are responsible for repairing or replacing any damaged item. If you do not then the landlord is quite at liberty to withhold the cost of the item from your deposit.
      • If you have a joint tenancy agreement, you are equally responsible for damage if you caused it or not.
      • You may come to an agreement to share these costs with your flatmates or agree that whoever damaged something should pay for it. Bear in mind that the landlord doesn’t really care what you agreed – he just wants his property repaired.
      • As a tenant, you only have to replace like for like – not new for old. For example if somebody breaks a 5 year old plate, you are quite at liberty to buy something of approximately equal age from a boot sale, you do not have to buy a new item.
      • As a tenant, you do not have to replace items that have just simply worn out. The landlord has to replace these.
    • Outstanding rent
      • Any unpaid rent can be deducted from your deposit when you leave.
    • Missing items
      • Any items that are missing can be deducted from your rent. Only the like for like value can be deducted, not new for old.
    • Receipts
      • As a tenant you are entitled to see any receipts in relation to items in your flat from your landlord.

Guarantor

It is likely that your landlord will ask for a guarantor before he accepts you as a tenant. This is a person who will pay your rent for you if you fail to do so yourself. If you have a joint tenancy your guarantor may have to cover all of your flatmates as well. You will need to find somebody who is prepared to do this for you.


Tenancy Agreements

  • There are two types of tenancy agreement, written and verbal.
  • It is not compulsory for the landlord to supply either.
  • If it is supplied it cannot be changed unless all parties agree.
  • Both agreements outline the responsibilities of both landlord and tenant.
  • Any rights, which form part of the agreement, are annulled if they contradict a law that is already in place.
  • A landlord cannot discriminate against a tenant on grounds or race, colour, gender, sexuality, religion or disability.

Written tenancy agreement should include:

  • The start date and duration of the agreement.
  • Whether other people may use the rooms.
  • The cost of the rent, its frequency and what is included in it.
  • The notice period on both sides.
  • A signature and date of the landlord and all tenants (if joint tenancy)

Verbal tenancy agreement should include:

  • Everything that is in the written agreement.
  • Nothing can be proven however (unless it is taped and verified.)

Tenants rights

  • Your fundamental rights as a tenant do not change, regardless of any tenancy agreement.
  • You must be given a copy of the tenancy agreement by the landlord, if you want one.
  •  You must be given contact details of the landlord, even if you rent your flat through an agency.
  • You are entitled to live in your home in peace
    • Your landlord must give you notice (24-48 hours) before entering the property.
    • Your landlord can’t change locks on your property without giving you prior notice and giving you replacement keys.
    • Your landlord can’t cut off utilities like gas, electric or water
    • Your landlord can’t open your mail
    • Your landlord can’t go through your possessions
    • Your landlord can’t threaten you, either physically or verbally.
    • Your landlord can’t enter your property while you are out, except in emergencies.
  • You are entitled to live in a well maintained and safe property
    • It must be clean and safe when you move in.
    • It must be safe and secure with all locks and alarms working when you move in.
    • It must be sound, including gas, water and electricity supplies.
    • Furnishings must meet safety regulations.
    • Furniture must be in good repair.
    • All repairs must be promptly fixed by the landlord.

Tenants responsibilities

  • You must pay your rent on time.
  • You must pay all of your household bills.
  • You must repair any damages caused by you or those living with you.
  • You must keep the flat secure at all times, locking windows and doors and setting the alarm.
  • You must keep the flat clean and tidy.
  • You must return the flat in the same state as you found it at the end of your tenancy.

Possible problems you need to think about…

  • Single or joint tenancy?
    • If you have a single tenancy you won’t be evicted if your flatmates don’t pay their rent.
    • If you have a joint tenancy you have joint liability.
  • Whose name is on the bill?
    • Even if you agree to split all of the bills equally amongst all of the flat mates, the person whose name appears on the bill is legally responsible for the whole bill.
  • One T.V. license?
    • You only need one if you are living together as a single household irrespective of how many TVs are in the flat.
    • If you all have separate tenancy agreements you will need separate TV licenses – one for each flat mate.
  • Evicting a flat mate
    • If a joint tenancy agreement is violated by one person, all flat mates are in danger or eviction.
    • If you are a sub-tenant (someone who is a tenant of a tenant) then you can be evicted very quickly, without written notification.
  • Leaving early?
    • If you want to leave the flat before the end of your tenancy agreement you will have to pay all of the outstanding rent. You may come to an agreement with the landlord if another tenant is found earlier.
  • New flat mate
    • If you want to bring in a new flat mate you need to get the agreement of your landlord first. He may charge you an administration charge.
    • Ensure that the new flat mate agrees to and is given a copy of the tenancy agreement.
    • Make sure that the new flat mate knows all the house rules.
  • Insurance
    • As a tenant, you should have your own contents insurance. This will cover you for accidental damage or theft of your property. It may also cover items that are lost whilst out of the flat.
    • You do not need buildings insurance. This is the responsibility of the landlord.

Moving

  • Contact your landlord and give him notice – in writing.
  • Sort out your belongings and throw stuff away.
  • If you have a job, book off time from work.
  • Get help – someone with a van is always useful!
  • Send change of address notice to: insurance company, utility companies, banks, doctor and hospital, local authority, gym and clubs, DVLA and car insurance, employer or university, inland revenue, library, solicitor, friends and family

Wize Tips

  • Make a detailed inventory of everything in the flat, with photos, before moving in and get it signed by the landlord.
  • Get a written tenancy agreement.
  • Make sure you protect your deposit.
  • Make sure that you know what your rent covers.
  • Familiarise yourself with your rights as a tenant.
  • Know your responsibilities as a tenant.
  • Think of the other people in the flat.
  • Communicate – don’t let disagreements become full blown rows.
  • Draw up a housekeeping rota with flatmates.
  • Share necessities but buy your own food.
  • Split the bills equally