UK Easy Rental Advice
Rent a Room
|LIVING IN A ROOM IN A SHARED HOUSE|
Lifestyle, Advice, Problems & Solutions
If you are living in a room in a shared house or flat you will probably not be paying your rent by bank standing order. Instead you will most likely be paying weekly or monthly in advance by cash or cheque. If you are paying weekly, but would rather pay monthly or every four weeks, ask the landlord if this would be possible. He will probably welcome the idea. If you are sharing a room, especially if your roommate is not a close friend, you should clarify the following point. Are you separately responsible just for your own share of the room rent? Or are you jointly responsible for the total room rent. If the latter is true and your roommate fails to pay his, or her, share of the rent, you will be in an awkward position. If possible, come to an sensible agreement with your roommate. Perhaps one of you could collect the rent share from the other, and then present the total room rent to landlord, at the pre-arranged time. If the landlord is not resident he will probably collect the rent by visiting you regularly on a pre-arranged day, at a pre-arranged time. Make sure you keep the appointment. If the landlord is resident the situation is easier. He may come and knock on your door on a pre-arranged day, at a pre-arranged time. You also have the option to go and find the landlord and offer payment. He may appear to be fairly casual about rent payment times, but even so, it is better to be safe that sorry.
So, always pay punctually, and always ask for a written receipt. Keep all receipts somewhere safe. In this way you can avoid disputes at a later date. If you cannot find the landlord or you know you are not going to be available at the pre-arranged payment time, pay early. Never pay late. Don't hand cash for rent payment to another sharer, who occupies a different room, hoping that they will then pay the landlord on your behalf. And finally, don't push the cash under the door of your landlord's own room when you can't find him. If you do this, how can you obtain a written receipt?
If you are living in a room in a shared house you will almost certainly not be expected to pay any bills. However in some situations you might be expected to share certain bills, with all other occupants of the house, eg: the electricity bills. This a notoriously unreliable and unfair system. If you feel that you are being asked to pay too much, you really have only one option and that is to move out.
Sharing a room has one major advantage.
The rent paid, per person, is usually cheaper when you share a room than when you live alone in a room.
But, sharing a room has three major disadvantages.
You will lose most of your privacy, there may be an increased risk of theft, especially if your roommate is not a close friend, and you and your roommate will have to be tolerant of each other's lifestyles and everyday habits.
If the relationship deteriorates to the point where you feel that you cannot continue living together, either you will have to move out, or your roommate will have to move out.
Live alone in the room and pay an increased rent.
Find a friend to take the place of your previous roommate. If you choose this option you will then have to satisfy the landlord that your friend is a suitable replacement. A non resident landlord may be very easy to satisfy, but a resident landlord will be more fussy about who he shares his home with.
Advertise for a new roommate.
This process can be very tricky and risky, so, if this is your plan, be careful.
Allow the landlord to choose a new roommate. This option is also risky. A person that the landlord considers suitable may well turn out be very different from the type of person that you would choose.
If the situation is looking problematic, there may be only one option left.
Move out yourself.
Remember, you are responsible for the behaviour of your visitors, guests and friends. If your visitors are noisy, especially at night, or if they make a mess, cause damage or cause overcrowding in the kitchen for example, you are the one who is responsible for the problem. In a shared house with a resident landlord this kind of problem will not go unnoticed. But don't assume that if the landlord does not live in the building he will be unaware of any broken rules or bad behaviour. Other occupants of the house often report problems, such as excessive noise at night, without your knowledge. Similarly if you allow a friend to stay overnight despite the fact that that the house rules prohibit this, the landlord is likely to give you a warning. If it happens repeatedly, he will probably ask you to leave. You may well deny his accusation but at the end of the day he needs no proof. If he wants you to leave, he will give you notice to leave. Remember also, if your visitors have caused any damage, it is you who will have to pay the price in the form of a deduction from your, deposit, when you move out.
When living in a room in a shared house there is always a risk of damage and theft. These problems tend to be worse when the landlord is non resident. First let's consider your own room. When you leave the house, remember to lock your room. If you feel that you cannot trust the other sharers who live in the house you may feel that you should lock your bedroom door even when you leave your room go to the toilet or kitchen. If the atmosphere is that bad, it may be time to consider moving out.
If your room is on the ground floor, remember to close all windows, and perhaps shut the curtains when you leave the house. If your laptop, for example, is visible to a stranger passing outside your window, the risk of a break-in and theft is obvious. Take care of all your valuable possessions - cash, debit and credit cards, personal documents, mobile phones, digital cameras, etc. The risk of theft from your room is obviously greater if you share the room, especially with a person whom you don't know very well.
You may also store some of your personal stuff in communal rooms such as the kitchen. Don't leave valuables where other people may be tempted to take them. You may trust the other people who you share the house with, but what about their friends and visitors? Better to be safe than sorry.
What happens if you go away for a period of several weeks, or even months? Will you still be expected to pay the full rent? In a shared house with a non resident landlord, the answer is almost certainly, yes, you will. A resident landlord may be more flexible. He may allow you to pay a reduced rent for the period when you are away. But he will almost certainly ask for advance payment for the whole period of absence and he will require contact details from you so that you can be contacted should any problems occur while you are away. If he will not offer a reduction in rent while you are away you may be tempted to arrange for a friend to take your place and pay the rent during this period. Naturally this can only be arranged with the landlord's permission. He will undoubtedly wish to meet your friend before making a decision. Temporarily moving in a substitute lodger in this way is likely to be complicated and problematic and should be avoided at all costs.
If you rent a room in a shared house, repairs and maintenance is entirely the reponsiblity of the landlord. If the washing machine breaks down or the sink starts leaking, contact the landlord to arrange a repair. It is always the landlord's liability to pay for a repair unless he can prove that the repair is needed because of misuse by one of the other occupants of the house. If you overload the washing machine and as a result it breaks down, the landlord is within his rights to charge you for the repair cost. Unfortunately, if the landlord fails to carry out essential repairs promptly, you cannot use this as an excuse for non-payment or late payment of rent. In this kind of situation, if you argue with the landlord, he may well give you notice to leave. There is very little that you can do about this, especially if the shared house is the landlord's home, ie: he is a resident landlord. So try to be patient and diplomatic.
If for any reason you want to move out at any time, you should give the landlord the required amount of notice to leave.
PAYING THE RENT
PAYING THE BILLS
SHARING A ROOM