Living with flatmates is both great fun and a cost-effective way to live. Most of the time you'll get along well, but inevitably you need work out how to share the financial responsibilities, like bills and rent.
What if they don’t pay their share of the rent?
Simon Thompson of Accommodationforstudents.com says you should talk with your flatmates as a group and also check what type of tenancy agreement you’ve signed up to. “Speak to that flatmate around the table and find out the reasons for why they’re unable to make the payment. Can their parents lend them the money so you can afford to pay the landlord perhaps?”
Although a joint tenancy is most common, you have the option of an individual tenancy agreement, which gives each flatmate the responsibility for just their portion of the rent. “Most tenancies for students are for joint tenancy agreements,” explains Simon. “If one person doesn’t pay then you are all liable. However, you can get individual tenancy agreements as opposed to forming a joint tenancy agreement, so if one person leaves the group are not responsible.”
Belinda Turffrey from Shelter says that it’s up to you to know the liabilities you’re signing up to. “It’s very important for a tenant to be aware of their rights and responsibilities before signing a tenancy agreement. You have your own responsibilities that you need to adhere to, so ensure that you don’t try to break your tenancy agreement.”
If one person doesn’t pay then effectively you are all liable.
My housemate isn’t paying the bills
If a flatmate does avoid paying their share, Simon advises: “approach that person and outline to them the money they owe. Put it in an email or in writing. Ultimately the bills are not the landlords responsibility, but your responsibility as the tenants.”
What happens if someone wants to move out?
Even if you get on well with your flatmates, at some point you may find someone will want to move out. Your contract is for a defined period, so if someone does leave before the end you’ll need to find a replacement. “It’s normally perfectly acceptable for someone to leave a joint tenancy agreement but you have to make them aware that it is their responsibility to find another tenant. Otherwise you will be liable for them in the event that they leave and don’t pay the landlord,” explains Simon.
Where can I go for help?
Most of the time you’ll be able to sort out problems among yourselves. If you are having trouble, there are organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau or Shelter you can contact free of charge should you need advice or support.
- Citizens Advice offer free help with housing, money and legal problems. Find your local centre.
- Shelter's advice website for young people offers help with housing problems and a free helpline 0808 800 4444. If you're in Scotland, use http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/ instead.
- Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
- Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.
Updated on 29-Sep-2015
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