What you need to know about flat sharing
Flat or house sharing is commonly defined as two or more people living in accommodation together. Usually each person will have their own bedroom and typically they will share certain communal areas such as kitchens, bathrooms or living rooms. A group of friends may seek to rent a whole property together, or individuals who don't previously know each other may rent in a house in multiple occupation (HMO).
Often people will share accommodation for financial reasons, as it can be cheaper than renting alone and allows you to make your budget go further to achieve a better location or bigger premises. There is also the social aspect to consider, as sharing can help bolster your social life (particularly if you are moving to a new area for the first time). When you live in shared accommodation, you might need to take out specialist flat share insurance or shared property contents insurance.
Why flat share?
A wide variety of people opt to live in shared accommodation; from students and young professionals, to couples that have a spare room to rent in order to help pay the bills. The age range of sharers can be equally diverse, but you will usually find that listings for sharing opportunities include a brief bio of those seeking flatmates (as well as what they are looking for in a flatmate).
A number of online resources are currently in operation to help people match up what they want in terms of property with the type of flat or house mate they hope to get as well. When you move into a shared house, it is essential that you take out your own house share insurance (even if the current tenants already have their own cover).
Risks to be aware of
There are a number of inherent risks that you will need to be aware of if you are thinking of sharing your property with strangers. There are also a number of risks in simply searching for a share. Be wary of online scammers, who may be out to get your money, and always think twice before paying any upfront fees before moving into a flat or house.
The biggest risk you face is that you will not get along with your flat or house mates. Unfortunately not everyone is as easy to get along with as you are, so personality clashes might be hard to predict and can be difficult to avoid. Because you are sharing with strangers, there is also a perceived insurance risk involved and that makes it harder to get shared property contents insurance.
Flat share/house share
A flat share is probably the most common type of shared accommodation these days. Many get their first taste of sharing when at university – something that can make or break friendships – but even as we get older flat shares remain a cost-effective way to live.
When a property is rented out as a whole by a group of individuals it is a joint tenancy, which means that all tenants are jointly and severally liable under contract. So if one tenant decides to move out, the landlord can demand that the remaining tenants make up the difference in rent. In most cases, landlords will find a replacement tenant, and a new tenancy agreement will begin.
The flat share term is often used synonymously with Rooms to Rent, which are let by a live-out landlord. In this case, each tenant has a separate agreement with the landlord. The benefits to this are clear, as although you share communal areas in the property you need only look after yourself. The downfall is that you don’t always know who you are going to be living with, and you might not get along!
Live-in landlords can also advertise Rooms to Rent. With this type of shared accommodation an individual or family lets a spare room in their house to a lodger. This can be a difficult situation to live in as the lodger may not feel completely relaxed in what is meant to be their own home, however, it can be ideal for those who commute long distances for work and only stay during the working week.
Sub lets are perhaps the most controversial of shared accommodation types. In some cases, a tenant will lease a spare room in their house and pocket the profits. This is an issue if the landlord doesn’t know about it! For some, a casual arrangement like this works but there are risks if it is not on a temporary basis. Without a written contract neither party has a legal leg to stand on.
In recent years, sub lets have come under the spotlight as services like Airbnb and Wimdu have grown in popularity. Many landlords have since found that their properties are being let to paying guests without their consent, so if you are planning to use a service like this, double-check the terms of your agreement first.
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