Renting as a group: with friends / family / colleagues / strangers
Renting a home can be expensive, so it’s common when starting out, to share those costs and rent a home with others. Sometimes you may want to share a property because you prefer to have company – living alone can be lonely. If you find housemates that share similar values and live a similar lifestyle, this can be great companionship.
So living with others: the costs come down but the hassle factor goes up, so lets look at what to consider:
Who to rent with? Simple – you must Really get on with them AND they must live a similar lifestyle and have similar values.
If you are moving out of the parental home for freedom then be aware that moving in with others wont give you that freedom if you don’t get on with each other, so spend all your time avoiding one another.
Silblings are often ideal people to move in with. You may have different tastes and annoy each other sometimes, but having the same family background gives you similar values that would mean it’s more likely for you to agree on domestic decisions and respect each other.
Strangers & Friends. Can I live with my friends and keep them as friends? If I live with strangers, what are the qualities they need to have (they should match your own standards, e.g. similar professional background, same lifestyles, and something in common like hobbies or just where you like to hang out)
Moving in with friends… you must not ask yourself if you like them, instead consider if they ‘act like you.’ Mates are great to be with, but to live with you get all their habits. Cleanliness, noise and different schedules (one who likes to party, one who needs early nights for early starts) are the main causes of arguments, along with money… making sure everyone contributes to rent and bills on time. On the one hand friends let each other get away with more, as there is a mutual respect. On the other hand, that sometimes means friends take liberties.
Personality: that friend who is always the life and soul of the party – they’re probably not the one to do the hoovering, load the dishwasher up or remember to clear up after themselves. Moderate characters make the best renting partners.
Keep Communal Space
It is tempting when renting with others to turn the lounge of a flat or house into an extra bedroom to get costs down. Don’t! Being confined to your bedroom and not having space to hang out with house mates or visiting friends and family makes living less enjoyable. You’ll feel like a hamster in a cage if the only space you have is your bedroom. A shared common space is really important.
Properties rarely have uniform bedrooms. There is often a master bedroom then smaller rooms, or perhaps two larger bedrooms and then single rooms. The easiest way to resolve who has what is money: set out before looking who wants/ needs what size room, then offer the incentive of paying a reduced rent (normally 15-30% less) to those who take the smaller rooms. To ‘swap’ rooms every few months so everyone gets a shot at the big bedroom, or the one with the ensuite, is too idealistic and too much hassle. Financial adjustments are the fairest way to do this and will keep each occupant happy.
Do you think you will have regular visitors? Get the okay from the other house mates and discuss in advance if there will be very frequent guests. Visiting partners and family/ friends are fine now and again. When they start appearing every other night, you’ll find your house mates become jealous that you dont spend time with them, resent having an extra person invading their space and feel bitter that the extra person is consuming electricity, water and space, without contributing to the costs.
Renting a room
When you want to rent and share, to save on cost, or for company, yet you don’t have others to do this with, you will find yourself renting a room directly from a landlord or a ‘sublet’ where someone has moved away from a property and the room needs filling
Either way, always have a formal agreement with the landlord – the Landlord should hold your deposit, add you to the tenancy and handle money – this is the only way to ensure your property will be safe and meet regulations. This gives you recourse if something goes wrong or needs fixing and avoids sticky situations.
Renting a room gives you the flexibility to try an area before renting alone or buying, keep down your costs or find new friends and integrate into new groups/ communities. Its particularly a good idea if you are “unsure” about anything – the area, whether to move out. If you are not sure where you will settle, or if you need a short term stop gap.
Finding a room is often via social advertising sites like craigslist or gumtree. Don’t pay anyone to find you a room and be wary as there are more ‘scams’ when it comes to renting rooms (never pay a deposit to anyone but the landlord for example). We’ll take you through our search tips to avoid scams in a later sections, which applies whether renting a room or a whole flat or house.
How to approach finding a room? Well pick your area from our ‘neighbourhood guides’. Concentrate on those areas that have a lot of what you like (whether this be cinemas, parks, bars) because people renting just a room often spend more time away from the property, in the local area. A good idea when you find a suitable area or a few of them, is to make a personal visit then go and see the cafes, restaurants, bars and shops in our ‘Insiders Guide’ featured at the bottom of each Area Guide. If you like these, you’ve found the right neighbourhood for you. Should they not be your cup of tea, search again.
Transport is really important when renting a room. You must be close to whatever links you need (bus / tube/ train) to get to work easily and more importantly see friends and family (if you have them in London or the UK) easily. Failing that, make sure you are in a good location to catch public transport to London’s airports so you can visit family and friends abroad with less hassle.
Focus on the flat/ house mates
Deciding in which property to rent a room is partly about finding a nice room and mostly about finding suitable sharers. You must meet all of the housemates, preferably twice and aswell as seeing the property while they are there, insist you go out for a coffee, drink or even dinner if they’re open to it. Much better to waste time having dinner with a group and then be relieved you didn’t end up living with them, than to just ‘hope’ they will be okay to cohabit with.
Best time to do this is after seeing the room, if you like it and having met each housemate, while thinking they seem like your kind of people. Now suggest you go for that beverage/ food (it can just be a sandwich or coffee) and offer to pay – it shows willing and will more likely get them out.
You don’t have to be best friends with these sharers – you do need people you will respect and be civil with, knowing they will be the same to you. A good way is to identify people from a similar background/ profession/ cultural group/ community. Having something in common indicates you’re more likely to would share common values… that means alot when it comes to decisions over domestic things like cleaning, share of bills and noise.
If you work full-time, you are unlikely to live well with students who have more flexible socialising hours. If you are from a strong ethnic community, sharing with others from the same community can increase feelings of comfort for you and flatmates. The same is true if you particularly religious – moving in with those from the same faith will help avoid unintentional offence.
Viewing the property, make sure you see all the communal areas – are they clean or dirty (too clean means they tidied up for you and are probably messy). Does it appear like the housemates get on (do they talk to each other and seem natural, but without being too cliquey)?
Insist on seeing each other persons room (pretend you want to compare or make any excuse). It sounds like an invasion of privacy but if they have huge speakers and rock posters and you like listening to classical music on your ipod, there could be a conflict! You might also get a better clue of how they live and their characters.
Be sure to ask all the occupants where they go out and when. Build a picture of their lifestyle… look for things that would irritate you (like those who enjoy clubbing arriving home in the early hours) and schedules that may cause bottlenecks (if you all leave for work at 8am there will be arguments over who uses the bathroom when, and for how long).
On your second visit to take a friend/ colleague to get an independent opinion. Your love of the room / location or need for quick accomodation can colour your judgement. Having someone neutral to confirm your feeling helps.
Finally, when dealing with the landlord, ask them if you can leave after 3months if there are personal issues… always minimise your ‘tie-in’ (financial and legal commitment to a property).