Published: 04/11/2022Living in a shared house can come with its challenges, sure it can. But let’s be honest, living with anyone involves adjustment, whether a partner, sibling, friend or stranger. The key is to respect each other’s differences and compromise where possible. Ask yourself what you would be looking for in a housemate and use that as the mould for yourself. And no, we don’t mean interest-wise. Living with a fellow gamer or someone who loves listening to rock music could appeal to the right personality type, but we are talking about the more generic characteristics - understanding, respect, and appreciation. The list goes on. It is just about being aware of others….and not leaving your wet laundry lying all over the kitchen floor!
All this aside, many tenants find their house-sharing experience a positive one. It is an opportunity to make new friends and live a more social life than you might if you lived alone, and shared living also means shared expenses, so cheaper rent and reduced bills…if any! Some shared houses have utility bills included in the rent, which can be a massive bonus.
It doesn’t have to be a headache…
However tiresome it sounds, it’s worth establishing a set of house rules for the shared areas of the property – and displaying them somewhere that everyone can see! The reason tensions can sometimes run high isn’t necessarily that housemates are being unreasonable or selfish. Instead, assumptions are often made that aren’t accurate. This is why displaying the rules in the house where everyone can see can save a lot of confusion and prevent fallouts. Just a little bit of simple communication can go a long way. Once these basic rules are established, everyone can focus on living a comfortable, relaxed, stress-free life. Well, that’s the aim!
Let’s run through some essential hints and tips for a successful house-share arrangement:
- Be considerate of your fellow housemates. If you work unsociable hours or you’ve been out for the night, it is worth remembering that other occupants may already be asleep. Similarly, if you are getting up unusually early for work (or a holiday!), try not to wake up the rest of the household. You may not realise how much noise travels, whether it’s your TV, playing music or simply chatting in your room, so be aware of your surroundings and mindful of other people. If you need to work from home, please do so in your own room.
- Keep guests to a minimum. No one expects you to bar visitors entirely; however, please be mindful if you have a guest round and be aware of how much noise even just one extra person can cause. Please also remember that you and your fellow housemates are paying for the amenities, so having another person use the bathroom/kitchen regularly is unfair to everyone else. Your tenancy is granted based on single occupancy, and the house is licensed for a specific number of tenants. If this is breached, further action may be taken against you. Sorry to be a killjoy.
- Clean up after yourself. This is important. No one wants to come into the kitchen to make breakfast only to find there is no clean crockery, the sink is piled high with used items, and there are a couple of half-empty pans on the hob. Same with the bathroom – wipe down the basin after use, replace the toilet roll if you’ve used it all up, clean the bath/shower after use etc. A mess is one of the biggest causes of disagreements in a shared house. Even if you are fortunate enough to live in shared accommodation where the landlord has arranged a cleaner, the chances are that this will only be a weekly arrangement. That leaves a lot of time for dirty plates and muddy floors to build up. Having a cleaner is no excuse for not staying on top of housework between visits. Please keep it clean and tidy both for yourself and for your housemates. A clean house will also reduce the chances of infestations, and no one wants that…
- Report maintenance issues promptly. Please let the landlord or your agent know if something isn't working. One of your housemates may have already reported the same thing but better reported twice than not at all! It is also courteous to leave a note for other tenants, informing them of any faults or damages and any action you have taken. This communication will prevent the classic ‘I didn’t raise the issue because I presumed someone else had' scenario and shows your housemates that you want to look after the property. People are more likely to behave a certain way if they witness others doing the same. Leading by example works.
- Stay away from your housemate’s food! It goes without saying but don’t help yourself to any food, drink or other household items unless it belongs to you or you have been invited to share it. Nothing is more annoying than opening the fridge to find your favourite chocolate gateau or bottle of chardonnay has been ‘borrowed’. If you wouldn’t find that acceptable done to you, then don’t do it to others. And even if you wouldn’t mind yourself, don’t do it anyway! It’s annoying and a recipe for creating unnecessary friction with housemates.
- Fire safety. Keep the halls, stairway and landing clear at all times; in the event of a fire, these may become your escape route, so please be sensible. It’s also vital to keep fire doors closed at all times; they are there for a reason and can save lives. On the topic of fire safety, please don’t smoke inside the property. Not only does it breach the terms of the contract, but it is also highly anti-sociable for those that don’t smoke. If you are a smoker, it is worth having a word with your housemates about the rules of outside smoking and how you will dispose of your butts and ash. Let’s look after the property and the environment, and keep all tenants happy.
Lecture over…now enjoy your new home!
If you are moving into a shared house, it should be a positive experience, and for most tenants, it is. All it takes to keep it that way is a bit of compassion and respect for other people’s circumstances and lifestyles. We aren’t all the same, which is fantastic, but we should all behave with a bit of common courtesy. It’s pretty simple, and best of all…it’s free!