If you’re a student looking at accommodation, then splitting the cost with someone else in a shared rental property might be enormously appealing. You’ll have less to pay at the end of every month, and you’ll have support when a problem arises. Plus, if you’re moving in with someone you get along with, you’ll have company.
But sharing your rented space confers a few risks, too. You’ll have to put up with accelerated wear and tear, and the risk that your housemate will violate your trust and cause your property to become stolen or damaged. Tenant insurance will help to protect you against these risks – but a better idea is to prevent the problem developing in the first place.
How do Tenancy Agreements Work?
There’s no single kind of tenancy agreement which applies to every shared rental arrangement. Yours might be different depending on what you’ve worked out.
A joint tenancy is one that’s signed by everyone in the property. This means that you’re all occupiers of the entire property, and jointly liable for the rent. Thus, if one person fails to pay up, the others will be responsible for picking up the slack. If you know and trust the people you’re moving in with, this might not be such a problem. If you don’t, then you may run into a problem. If one person decides later that they’d like to leave, then the agreement will come to an end for everyone, and the permission of both the landlord and every other tenant will normally need to be obtained.
For these reasons, it’s especially important to study the tenancy agreement you sign closely, especially if you suspect that your circumstances are a little volatile. Think about what will happen if one of you has a personal change, or drops out from university.
In other cases, you might decide that each person entering into the shared residence has the right to occupy only a designated part of it. So, you might assign each person a given room, and then declare that certain spaces, like lounges and kitchens, are shared. This arrangement grants everyone in the property sole tenancy. It’s best in larger properties in which many people are staying.
A single person might also have sole tenancy. This person might then decide to sub-let parts of the property out to other people. If you’d like to lower your costs while still retaining control of the situation, then this arrangement might be the one that appeals the most, as you’ll have the power to get rid of housemates that you don’t get along with – but your ability to do so will still be constrained in practice by the law, and by your lodger’s willingness to cooperate when things go sour.