Do you really know the people you want to live with? (You may have just met them).
Deciding to share accommodation with other people is a big decision and has lots of legal implications. Once you have signed a contract you are legally bound by it.
It’s worth thinking about the different types of tenancy agreements. They are usually either joint or separate.
In a joint tenancy there is one contract between the landlord (on one side) and the tenants (all of you) on the other. You all have equal rights under the contract but also equal responsibilities. If one of you doesn’t pay the rent the other tenants have to pay it. If one person causes damage you are all equally responsible for this. As a joint tenant it’s up to you all how you live together and get along; if you fall out, this is not the landlord’s problem.
In a separate tenancy, you might be living in a house with lots of other people, but you will all have an individual agreement with the landlord. This means you’re not responsible for anyone else’s rent, but it also means people can come and go; if one housemate moves out, the landlord can get anyone they like to be a new tenant – you don’t get to choose.
Take your time before you sign!
You should always be completely happy when you sign an agreement (because it’s too late afterwards).
Talk to your future housemates. Do they like loud music? Have lots of friends round late at night? Like to party? Have a pet rat? Will they take their turn washing up and cleaning the loo?
Take time to talk about the money: can everyone afford the rent? Will they have the money for the deposit in the summer when you need to move in? Can you all afford to get takeaway every night, or is someone living on beans?
For more things to consider when choosing who to live with check the links below:
Where should you live?
Don’t just look at the pictures in your landlord’s brochure. Go and see the house.
How far is it from Uni? Can you get a bus if it’s raining? What are the neighbours like? From the outside, does the house look dirty, or damp, or is it well cared for?
Have a look at the area. Is it on a busy road? Will it be noisy at night? Is it next door to a pub or takeaway (this might be good or bad depending on you)!
Ask questions: are there plenty of bins, and what day is the rubbish collected? Is there somewhere you can park (useful when moving in and out)? Is there a garden, and if so who has to look after it?
How helpful is the landlord/agent? (Clue: if they are not helpful BEFORE you sign, this does not bode well for the tenancy).