Guidance on renting a room in a shared property (or HMO, Housing in Multiple Occupation)
If you are going to be renting a room in a shared property (or HMO, Housing in Multiple Occupation) there will be differences in what you should be looking for, asking for and be responsible for. You may find that shared accommodation is cheaper to rent but designed for single people, not necessarily couples or families. Here are some key points to remember when looking into this type of accommodation
When making enquiries into a shared house or viewing it is important to find out whom else is living in the property, are they students, professionals, younger people, older people etc. Each of these may have an effect on your personal preferences and lifestyle.
You can ask to meet the other tenants prior to making a decision whether or not to accept the tenancy. See if you feel comfortable with the other people, but be reasonable and don't live off the expectation you are about to meet your future best friends.
When sharing the responsibility for utility bills you need to find out how this is organised in the house. Some landlords may pay the utility bills and charge you within the rent or separate to the rent for this. Others may have 'pay as you go' meters in the house and expect the tenants to organise the payments amongst themselves.
If the landlord leaves it up to the tenants it is worth discussing with your future housemates how they manage this and decide if you feel comfortable with the arrangement.
In a shared house the likely communal areas will be the bathroom(s), kitchen, living room(s) and hallways. As a group of tenants you will all be responsible for ensuring these areas are kept clean and tidy, therefore consider how you will manage this. Does there need to be a cleaning rota? You can discuss how this works already with the current tenants. It is a good idea to take note of how the communal areas look when you go to view, this may be an indicator as to how willing the other housemates are in keeping to a cleaning agreement.
You will find most shared accommodation is furnished so make sure that all the furniture and its condition is on your inventory.
Generally you will be given an Assured Shorthold tenancy (see 'Moving into your tenancy'), but if the owner of the property also lives there you will have a 'license' and your tenancy is not as secure, for more information please see moving into your property
If you claim Housing Benefit please be aware that regardless of your entitlement, if you rent a room in a shared house you will only receive the shared room rate of Housing Benefit. Also if your landlord charges a set fee on top of your rent for utilities this will not be covered by your Housing Benefit payments, you will be responsible for these payments out of your personal income.
In a shared property the Council Tax will be registered in the landlords name therefore the landlord is responsible for payments. The only exception to this is if you are a non-student living in a house with all students, you will be responsible for the full council tax in the house and this will be registered in your name, this is important to consider when deciding who you will be renting with.
Although it is still a legal requirement for a shared property to have a Gas Safety Certificate (GCS) it does not have to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). For more information on property safety certificates please look at the following link:
If you are concerned about the conduct of a landlord please visit our Report a Rogue Landlord Form to learn how to report concerns.
If you are concerned about the service you've received from a lettings agent, you can find further information at Threps
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