Renting can be really expensive and intimidating, especially if it’s the first time you’ve lived away from home. Share housing can be a really great alternative to renting on your own – it’s cheaper and you have people around you if you get stuck! But it’s not always easy. Here’s what you should know before jumping into a house share situation.


What Are My Rights and Responsibilities?

This is really dependent on your role in the share-house as there are different scenarios. Often if you and a group of friends move in together you will each be on the lease and have equal responsibilities and obligations. In this situation you would be a co-tenant. This means each person is responsible for paying rent and each person has a relationship with the owner. This also means that the owner can act against any co-tenant individually if there is an issue. Sometimes landlords or agents only want one name on the lease, in this case the name on the lease would be of the head tenant. In this situation the landlord or agent will only deal with the head tenant. Head tenants have the rights and responsibilities of the landlord, meaning they have to collect rent and deal with utilities. They also have the power to ask other tenants to move out. If you are not the head tenant, you are most likely a sub tenant, meaning your agreement is with the head tenant and not the landlord or agent. You still have the same responsibilities as other tenants, such as rent payments, and you should have an agreement with the head tenant which clearly states your obligations. If none of these apply to you, you may be a boarder or lodger. This means the landlord keeps overall control of the house, including your room. You will probably have your utilities included in your rent payments too. Boarders and lodgers aren’t covered by the Residential Tenancies Act, and can be evicted without notice. Basically, the less responsibly you have in the share-house, the less rights you have as well.


How Do We Avoid Difficulties and Disputes?

The best way to avoid tension is to decide at the beginning of the tenancy how chores will be divided and agree on some simple house rules. This will mean everyone is clear on how the house will be run and should prevent arguments. It’s also a good idea to set up an automatic payment system for rent and bills to ensure everything is paid on time, so there’s no reason for awkward conversations about money.


What Happens If Problems Arise?

The first way to deal with problems is to sit down with your housemates and try to come to a solution everyone is happy with. If this doesn’t work, there are plenty of tenancy advice helplines to help you find a solution. If there is an issue that can’t be resolved, you are able to go to court. However, this is a last resort and it’s often better for everyone involved to find another way to solve the problem.


Whenever a group of people live together (no matter if you’re strangers or best friends) problems can arise. So follow this advice and you’ll have a much more pleasant living situation.