Who to share with

Renting as part of a group

How many to share with

What makes for a good house share

Who to live with

Sharing with a partner

Smoking and smokers

Renting as part of a group

Most students do this – agree to rent a whole house between them and sign a joint contract. It is generally much easier and cheaper to find accommodation if you’re part of a group and, in fact, this is how most owners offer their properties. You should, however, be aware of the implications of signing a joint contract before you commit yourself.

How many to share with

Choosing how many to share with is important. Properties for between three and six are best. Houses for two and for seven or more are in short supply.

If you're in a large group and there are no houses big enough on offer, it's worth thinking about splitting into two groups and looking for two houses close to each other.

What makes for a good house share

It's important when hunting for a shared house to be clear about your own "wants" and "don't wants" and others' needs. If you're not, difficulties can emerge during the tenancy - most are fixed-term tenancies which means it is difficult to get out of your contract and leave the property before that fixed term is up.

Generally, there are no golden rules that make for a good house share. There is a theory that mixed (male and female houses) work better than single-sex households and that one woman sharing a house with several males tends not to be a good arrangement. This theory holds good for many cases, but by no means all.

If you decide that you do not, after all, want to live with the people you agreed to share with, say so before signing a contract. It will spare you real problems in the long run.

Women students should weigh up all the implications of living in an otherwise all-male house. You may feel perfectly at ease with the group but there may be times when you are alone at night with just one of them - will you still feel comfortable then?

Who to live with

If you agree to share with people you do not know at all, you will be taking a limited risk. However, often these house shares are as successful as those between friends. This is because the level of formality in agreeing sharing arrangements between people who do not know each other can help make for a smooth sharing arrangement over the year. Conversely, disagreements between people in pre-existing friendships can be avoided and remain dormant within the sharing arrangement until some crisis emerges. 

Sharing with a partner

Some students (particularly second and later year students and postgraduates) decide to live with a partner. For these purposes a large bedsit, a self-contained flat or a small house would be the best choice. Self contained flats form about 8% of student occupancy and although they are the most expensive form of accommodation, if two people are paying the rent they can actually be cheaper, or no more expensive, than renting a room in a shared house.

In signing any fixed term agreement it is important to take a realistic view about the nature of your relationship with your partner and the legal commitment you will be making in sharing a flat - will your relationship last longer than your contract?

Smoking and smokers

One of the more common causes of friction in houses relates to smokers and non-smokers. There are some people who really cannot stand the smell of smoke in a house (and there may even be medical conditions that this can trigger). So it is important to consider this issue before you form a group to rent a house. If you are sharing with friends, you will know about this issue and the problems can probably be resolved (allowing smoking in individual rooms but not in the communal areas for example).

However, if you are renting from a university or college or are in a private hall of residence, it is likely that your accommodation will have a no-smoking policy. Many individual landlords are also including no-smoking clauses in their contracts. So it may be advisable to check this with the landlord before you sign for a property.