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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Problems with housemates

Sharing arrangements don't always work out. If you're having problems with your flatmates, don't ignore the issue. Try to resolve the situation. If you've signed a tenancy agreement, it will be difficult to leave the property before the term laid out in the tenancy agreement has expired.

Your options depend on what the type of problem and the type of tenancy you and the other people have. In serious cases you may be able to ask the council or police for help.

Working out the problems

The type of problem that you have influences what you can do. If the problem comes from a personality clash, try to discuss things. It can be difficult to change the situation if you're unable to talk to the other person.

The council or your landlord may be able to take action if:

  • other tenants are making excessive noise
  • other tenants aren't paying the rent.

Check your tenancy agreement.  The landlord may have to end everyone's tenancy if he tries to evict one person who's causing a problem. 

Talk to your housemates

The first step is to talk about the situation. Discuss things calmly and let each person say what they need to say. Do this as early as possible before the problem gets too serious.Many problems in shared accommodation are to do with day to day living like chores, noise and overnight guests. If talking doesn't help the only options may be to put up with the situation or move out.

Ask the landlord for help

If you can't resolve the problem by talking to your housemates you may want to ask your landlord for help. Your landlord might be able to resolve the problems in your household. Your landlord may be able to take action to evict the other person if that person has breached the tenancy agreement in some way.  Usually, if a landlord evicts one joint tenant he ends the agreement for the other tenants too.  You'll need to make sure your landlord sets up a new tenancy and gives you a new agreement if he asks one of the other tenants to leave. 

If you're jointly and severally liable any tenants remaining in the property will probably have to cover the missing tenant's rent until a new flatmate is found. 

Help in extreme cases

You may also be able to get help from the council or the police. This is only likely to be possible in situations where:

  • another tenant has threatened you with violence
  • the noise or damage caused is very severe
  • there is racial or sexual harassment
  • you are being harassed because of your religion.

Rights of joint tenants

If have signed one tenancy agreement with all the other occupiers when you moved in you probably have a joint tenancy. All the tenants have exactly the same rights. You are all responsible for paying the rent and keeping to the terms of your agreement. If one tenant is not paying rent the landlord could hold you all responsible for paying the arrears or evict all the tenants in the property.

Each joint tenant is responsible for sorting out any problems between themselves. The landlord will only get involved in extreme cases.

When a joint tenancy ends all the tenants must leave the property. The landlord cannot evict one joint tenant without evicting all of you. However, the landlord may decide to offer a new tenancy to you after the eviction.

Individual tenancies

If each person in your household signed a separate agreement with your landlord you probably all have separate tenancies. You can have individual tenancies even if:

  • you share a kitchen
  • you share a bathroom
  • you have self contained accommodation in the same building.

Each tenant is only responsible for the rent for his or her part of the accommodation.

Your landlord may be able to help you if you have separate tenancy agreements and one of the other tenants is causing problems. Your landlord may be able to evict the tenant causing the problems. Your tenancy won't be affected by the landlord evicting someone else who lives in the property.

One main tenancy with subtenants

In some properties, there may only be one person named on a tenancy agreement even though several people live and pay rent in the property.

If this is the case, only the named person is a tenant. The other people are licensees and will have fewer rights than the person named on the tenancy agreement. If you are a licensee you could be asked to leave the property without much notice.

The person who is named on the tenancy agreement may be able to decide who should stay or go if there are problems. These situations can be very complicated. If you're a subtenant and you're not sure of your rights contact Housing Rights for help.