Relationships with housemates

Sharing arrangements don't always work out. If you're having problems with your flatmates, don't ignore the issue. Try to resolve the situation. If you've signed a tenancy agreement, it will be difficult to leave the property before the term laid out in the tenancy agreement has expired. Essentially you sign a legal agreement to be live with one another.

Your options depend on what the type of problem and the type of tenancy you and the other people have. The best way to deal with the problems is to try and avoid them in the first place.

Avoiding Problems 

Communication – Talking to your housemates in person rather than using group messages and online chats. Not only does this help you communicate more clearly, it can help you build relationships.

Study times – Being aware that people have deadlines and assessments at different times in the year and showing consideration with noise can help avoid arguments.

Sleep – People will start University at different times and some may have placements with late nights and early mornings. Being conscious of this and making sure you are not keeping each-other awake shows consideration. Remember, communication is key.

Lifestyle choices – Some students may smoke and others may not. Appreciating that everyone is entitled to make their own decision on this and making sure that no one else is being affected by it is a sure way to avoid confrontations. Smoking inside when this is prohibited is likely to cause some issues, so avoid this.

Cleaning and tidying – sharing cleaning responsibilities and tidying up after yourself to make sure you are not leaving a mess for your housemates is common courtesy. If your housemates are making an effort to keep the house tidy, make sure you do your part.

House parties – make sure you clear this with your housemates. It may not be a good time for someone in the house to be distracted by noise and visitors.

Don’t steal food – Make sure you are asking permission before taking your housemates food. Replace what you use.

Working out the problems

The type of problem that you have influences what you can do. If the problem comes from a personality clash, try to discuss things. It can be difficult to change the situation if you're unable to talk to the other person.

The council or your landlord may be able to take action if:

  • other tenants are making excessive noise
  • other tenants aren't paying the rent.

Check your tenancy agreement. The landlord may have to end everyone's tenancy if he tries to evict one person who's causing a problem.

Talk to your housemates

The first step is to talk about the situation. Discuss things calmly and let each person say what they need to say. Do this as early as possible before the problem gets too serious. Many problems in shared accommodation are to do with day to day living like chores, noise and overnight guests. If talking doesn't help the only options may be to put up with the situation or move out.If you can't resolve the problem by talking to your housemates you may want to ask your landlord for help. Your landlord might be able to resolve the problems in your household. Your landlord may be able to take action to evict the other person if that person has breached the tenancy agreement in some way. Usually, if a landlord evicts one joint tenant he ends the agreement for the other tenants too. You'll need to make sure your landlord sets up a new tenancy and gives you a new agreement if he asks one of the other tenants to leave.

If you're jointly and severally liable any tenants remaining in the property will probably have to cover the missing tenant's rent until a new flatmate is found.

Help in extreme cases

You may also be able to get help from the council or the police (link is external). This is only likely to be possible in situations where:

  • another tenant has threatened you with violence
  • the noise or damage caused is very severe
  • there is racial or sexual harassment

Rights of joint tenants

If have signed one tenancy agreement with all the other occupiers when you moved in you probably have a joint tenancy. All the tenants have exactly the same rights. You are all responsible for paying the rent and keeping to the terms of your agreement. If one tenant is not paying rent the landlord could hold you all responsible for paying the arrears or evict all the tenants in the property.

Each joint tenant is responsible for sorting out any problems between themselves. The landlord will only get involved in extreme cases.

When a joint tenancy ends all the tenants must leave the property. The landlord cannot evict one joint tenant without evicting all of you. However, the landlord may decide to offer a new tenancy to you after the eviction.