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Sharing rented accommodation

This page should is about sharing your home with others and it will help you avoid problems and get along with whoever you share your accommodation with.

HMOs (houses in multiple occupancy)

An HMO (house in multiple occupancy) is a property that is shared by three or more tenants who aren't members of the same family. HMO landlords must have a licence from the council for every HMO. This ensures that the property is managed properly and meets certain safety standards.

Before the council gives a landlord an HMO licence, it will carry out the following checks:

  • Is the landlord is a fit and proper person to hold a licence?
  • Is the property managed properly?
  • Does the property meet the required standards?

It is a criminal offence for a landlord to operate an HMO without a licence, and they could face a fine of up to £50,000. Landlords can register by contacting their local council.

Choosing who you live with

Sharing a flat or house is usually cheaper than living on your own. You might want to consider if anyone in the accommodation will be a student, as this affects your council tax liability. If there is any difference between yourselves in terms of who needs to pay council tax, you will need to agree in advance how this bill is divided up.

Sharing your living space can create its own problems, so before moving into a shared flat or house, you might want to think about the following things:

  • Do you want to live in a single sex flat, with all male or all female flatmates?
  • Would you be prepared to live with a couple?
  • Would you like to live in a smoking or non-smoking flat?

If you pull your weight and keep to your own space you should avoid any major problems.

Joint or separate tenancies

Your rights and responsibilities will depend on whether you are a joint or separate tenant:

  • Separate tenancies - if you live in a communal setting (such as a House in Multiple Occupation) and your landlord got you all to sign individual leases, then you will have a separate tenancy, which means you will only be liable for the rent that is noted on your agreement and not for the whole of the property. However, the tenancy agreement may state that you have to jointly pay the council tax and bills with the other tenants in the property.
  • Joint tenancies - if you share a property with other people and you have all signed the same tenancy agreement, then you will be a joint tenant. Joint tenants are jointly liable for rent and any other obligation that they agreed to by signing an agreement.

Remember From 1 December 2017 the private residential tenancy came in to replace assured and short assured tenancies

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Setting house rules

Regardless of how well you know your housemates, just going with the flow rarely works. If you can, you should try and set a few house rules from the start of the tenancy:

  • Which part of the house or flat will be your part?
  • Are there any rooms you're not allowed to go into?
  • Is there a cleaning rota?
  • Is there a no smoking rule?
  • Do other housemates' partners stay over regularly? What about other guests?
  • What's the policy on parties?

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