Who should I live with?
Do you want to live on your own, in a house or flat-share, with your girlfriend or boyfriend, or with a friend?
Moving in with someone is a big step. Make sure you think carefully and weigh up the pros and cons before you decide.
Living on your own
Living on your own offers you plenty of freedom and independence, but it can be lonely. Are you prepared to do everything for yourself, from cooking and cleaning to paying the bills, and to come home to an empty house?
It is generally accepted that living on your own is the most expensive way to live. Living with other people is a good way to share the costs. Community landlord homes are usually more affordable, but you may have a long wait.
Moving in with your partner
Moving in with a partner is an exciting prospect, but it can put a strain on your relationship, especially if you haven’t been together very long. Discuss it properly, agree some ground rules and make sure you’re ready for it.
If you are moving into a property that your partner already rents, you might be able add your name to the contract, depending on who they rent from and what type of contract they hold. Adding your name to the contract will give you more rights.
If the landlord refuses to add you to the contract, get help.
If you are both moving into a new rental property, you will probably be given a joint occupation contract which secures your rights as a contract-holder.
If the worst happens, and you split up, get help immediately. Your rights can vary a lot, depending on your circumstances and your status.
Shared flats and houses
Sharing a house or flat is usually cheaper than living on your own, and can be great fun as long as everyone pays their own way and does their share of the housework.
If you live in a house or flat that contains more than one household (such as a bed and breakfast, or a house split into bedsits) it might be legally classed as a house in multiple occupation (or HMO). If this is the case, the landlord has extra legal responsibilities to ensure that the property is managed properly.
Moving in with friends
Moving in with friends can be a good solution. But you still need to be clear what the arrangements are. Your rights will be very different if you move into your friend’s place as a lodger or sub-holder than they will if you have a joint contract in a shared house or flat.
If you have to leave your current home and have nowhere else to go, staying on a friend’s sofa might be a good solution for a short time. But it can become problematic in the longer term. You may feel like you are getting in the way, and you will have very limited rights if they want you to leave. If you are in this situation, get help immediately – you are probably experiencing ‘hidden homelessness’ and you should be entitled to help from the council.
Living with a landlord or a member of their family
If you share with a landlord, you will have very limited rights. Remember: the person you pay your rent to is your landlord. So if you move into a mate’s place as a lodger or sub-contract holder, according to the law, they will be your landlord.
Living with your landlord or a member of their family will have a big impact on how easily you can be evicted. You are likely to be an excluded occupier if:
- you share living space with your landlord, even if s/he’s your friend or partner. Kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms count as living space, but hallways and entrances normally don’t
- you live in the same building as the landlord (unless it’s a purpose-built block of flats) and share living space with a member of her/his family.
Excluded occupiers can be evicted more easily because they are only entitled to reasonable notice if the landlord wants them to leave. Reasonable notice could mean that they get only a short amount of time, and the warning may be verbal.
If you are renting a home from a ‘close relative’ of you or your partner and they live in the same house, you won’t be able to get housing benefit.
What else should I think about?
Finding someone to live with is only the first step.
Once you have found a place to live, check the terms of the contract before signing it. If you are unsure of any of the terms get help.
Establish some ground rules with your housemates, this will save arguments in the long run.