Things to agree in advance
Whoever you decide to live with, it helps if everyone agrees on some ground rules before moving in together. If everything’s clear from the start, it could save major rows later on.
Check that everyone understands what type of contract they will have and what it means.
Does the head landlord or lender know you’re living there?
If you’re moving in as a lodger or sub-tenant, ask the person you’re renting from whether they have permission from their landlord or mortgage lender to rent a room out. If they don’t, you won’t have many rights. If the landlord or lender decides to evict the person you’re living with, you will have to leave too.
Are there are any house rules?
Just going with the flow rarely works.
If you can, find out:
- Which part of the house or flat will be your part?
- Are there any rooms you’re not allowed to go into without permission?
- Is there a cleaning rota, to save arguments over the washing-up?
- Is there a no-smoking rule?
- Can girlfriends or boyfriends stay over regularly?
- What about other guests?
- Will everyone socialise together, or will you all lead separate lives?
- What’s the policy on parties?
- Are you allowed pets? Does anyone else in the flat own pets?
What do the other people in the flat do? If they work, what are their hours? Will you be queuing for the bathroom in the morning? Or will you have to keep quiet during the day so flatmates working nightshifts can sleep?
Will anyone be claiming benefits? If so, living with other people may affect the amount they receive. For example, if your friend or partner is claiming housing benefit, it will probably be reduced if you move into her/his place – even if you don’t pay any rent. If s/he doesn’t tell the housing benefit department that you are living there s/he could end up having to pay an overpayment back or be prosecuted for fraud.
Who pays for what?
Most people who live together argue about money occasionally. But it helps if you’re clear about certain things from the start:
- How much rent you will pay, when and how it will be due, and who you will pay it to
- How you will divide up household bills – especially the phone.
- Is there a kitty for communal items like toilet roll and washing-up liquid?
- What happens if somebody breaks something? Does it come out of your shared deposit or does the person who broke it have to pay for it?
- What’s the situation with council tax?
If you live alone, you will probably receive a 25% discount on your council tax bill. You will no longer be entitled to this if someone else moves in. If you live in a household comprised entirely of students, you won’t need to pay any council tax at all, but if one person isn’t a student, you will get a full bill.