Living in a house share is no longer solely something students have to endure for a few years. As the obstacles to getting onto the housing ladder continue to bite, it’s a popular choice of living for all ages, particularly those in larger cities where the cost of living is typically higher.
Living in a house share with people who have different lifestyles can take some getting used to, so it’s important to take the advice and help available to make the experience as stress-free as possible.
ARLA Propertymark (the Association of Residential Letting Agents) shares its top tips on how to survive a house share…
Sally Lawson, the President of ARLA Propertymark, says: “With sky-high rents, and fewer first time buyers entering the market, a large proportion of people now live in shared accommodation for longer than they would have done 15 years ago. Whether you are living with best friends or complete strangers, there are plenty of hurdles to face in a house share, so we have outlined the following tips, which should help the process to run smoothly.”
Keep it clean
Cleanliness is subjective and we all have different ideas of what clean means. It’s best to share with people who have similar standards to you, but, if this isn’t possible, try to compromise. You should set a few ground rules in the house share at the start of the tenancy agreement, such as keeping communal areas clean and tidy. Everyone must agree to clear up after themselves, particularly in the kitchen, and dirty pots should never be left to fester. If necessary, draw up a cleaning rota to ensure that everyone does their fair share of the workload, or agree to split the cost of a weekly or fortnightly cleaner.
Get the bills in order
When you move in, agree how bills will be paid and split between everyone in the house share, as this is a common cause of arguments. Set up bank transfers to cover the monthly outgoings that are your responsibility, and keep a record of what’s been agreed when it comes to making payments. Alternatively, download an app that allows you all to access and track expenses by logging in from your phone.
Keep your belongings in your room and be clever with storage, so that your personal items don’t spill into the communal spaces. Security can be an issue too, with people coming in and out of the home that you don’t know, so it’s worth having some lockable storage in your room for high value items. Be vigilant and, as a house, agree to always lock your doors and windows to prevent break-ins. Also, if you have a burglar alarm, use it!
Share the essentials
It’s a good idea to band together with your housemates and put money towards kitchen basics, such as pots and pans, condiments, spices, and dairy products to save you all over-buying. Each month, you can agree what needs to be replaced and all put money in a pot to make sure that those essentials are restored going forward.
Respect your housemates’ privacy; don’t go into their rooms when they’re not there and always knock first if the door is shut. Keep the noise down if you are inviting friends round or coming in late at night, and try to give some warning if you’re having visitors. Being respectful in a house share goes a long way towards preventing conflicts.
Remember to communicate
Have an established method of communication to discuss specific house matters, for example a Facebook or WhatsApp group. If you have an issue to raise, however, the best thing to do would be to communicate face-to-face, so that it can get resolved quickly. If you haven’t developed a social relationship with your housemates, a simple “please” and “thank you”, along with polite conversation, can establish a comfortable atmosphere for everyone.
Choose your housemates carefully
If you have the luxury of getting to choose your housemates, think carefully before you agree to move in with someone, and consider whether you could potentially clash on anything like smoking, obsessive tidiness or having conflicting work schedules. Be honest about your own lifestyle and needs when talking to prospective housemates, as it will be a much more enjoyable experience living with people that you get on with.
If you’re soon to be moving into a house share, we wish you good luck!