If you’re looking to move out anytime soon, chances are you’re going to be moving in with others. And that can be brilliant. Living with your best mates, having people around to keep you company and help you out, and splitting the bills is always nice.
But what if things go a little awry, and it’s not quite the perfect Friends-esque flatmate dream?
The Guardian have written a great cheat sheet to help you with some of the most common problems that can arise in shared accommodation and how to tackle them. Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest sources of tension when living with other people is…
Problems you might encounter as a tenant in shared accommodation...
1. The people
Shock, we know. Sure, living with friends, or even relative strangers, can work out perfectly, and is the common route for almost all students and young professionals who have left college and want to spread their wings with their own pad. But it might not always be hunky dory.
You probably know by now that you can’t get on with everyone, and if you’re living in halls for the first time with a bunch of (hopefully lovely) strangers, or you’ve opted for a room in a private house share, you might just not be best friends with everyone.
And that’s okay, as long as there’s an element of communication and respect from everyone. But if there’s not, it has the potential to become more than a little unpleasant.
And this can be on loads of grounds – you and your housemate could have wildly differing ideas of what it means to be clean and tidy, what noise levels are acceptable when, what responsibilities should be taken on by who, just how many different ceramic clowns need to be decorating the communal living room… You get the idea.
The Guardian’s best advice? ‘Raise issues early, but keep it neutral. Regular house meetings where you sort out bills, admin and issues is a good start. Simple compromises – such as wearing earplugs or gifting headphones to a noisy housemate – can work wonders, too.
2 .Damp & mould
Pretty grim and not really something anyone likes to think about, but according to the Guardian, damp and mould in rented accommodation affects a third of students. It can be horrible to live with, can wreck your stuff and your room, and can even be seriously bad news for your health, so don’t stick a poster over it and hope it goes away.
Do what you can to help, put the heating on if you can afford it, keep damp places like bathrooms and kitchens well-ventilated by opening windows and having extractor fans on, but don’t ignore it.
Speak to your landlord, because they have a responsibility to deal with anything that might damage your health.
3. Pests & vermin
Another pretty icky one, but common – according to the Guardian, university “guests” can include slugs, bed bugs, rodents and wasps. Yuck. The, erm, cause of attraction can affect whether it’s yours or your landlord’s responsibility to sort it out, so make sure you’re not doing anything to lure the creepy crawlies in. We’re talking things like not regularly emptying bins and leaving food lying around. Minor changes can be made to help control situation, like splurging on some ant powder, keeping food waste in sealed bins or containers and emptying indoor bins regularly.
Serious problems or infestations should mean a conversation with your landlord for their help, as long as you’ve made reasonable efforts to not attract the pests.
Like leaving a whole rotisserie chicken on the front porch and being shocked when a fox takes residence.
4. Difficult landlords
“Go talk to your landlord” might seem like our mantra, but what if they’re the problem? Most are pretty decent at best, because they need you as much as you need them, but everyone has heard the odd horror story of demon landlords. And the Guardian have reported that a third of students have waited over two weeks to have problems like no hot water or no heating sorted out.
You’re entitled to these, and your landlord has to fix them. But they can only sort the problem once they know about it, so keep in good contact with them and communicate problems as soon as they come up so that they can get it sorted for you.
They might need to pop round to look into issues, but unless otherwise agreed, they have to give you 24 hours notice for this. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. If they turn up unannounced on the doorstep? You’re well within your rights to tell them it’s not convenient, and that you’ll reschedule.
Know your rights.
Bigger problems with your landlord? Your council can step in if your landlord isn’t dealing with reported problems quickly enough, or talk to your uni’s accommodation and welfare office to see where you stand.
LUCY HARDING is an English Literature grad and an MA Publishing student at UCL. She is passionate about international relations and cultural diversity, having worked closely with her university’s Erasmus society to support European students. She also spent a year abroad studying at California State University: Long Beach
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