Last updated: 09/11/2020
Over the years, increasing numbers of professionals are taking to renting a room in a shared house or flat with like-minded young professionals, rather than renting or buying a property alone. In fact, there were an estimated 497,000 Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) in England and Wales at the end of March 2018 - hardly surprising when the average UK rent has increased 3.9% in the last year alone!
But the move to house sharing isn’t just being driven by escalating rent costs – many young professionals actually find the prospect of a flat or house share far more convenient than purchasing or renting alone, as it lets them to reduce overall rent costs and ultimately get a lot more for their money. This is particularly the case for professionals in London who face an average rent of £1,646 a month!
But how do you find the best house or flat share for you? There is no magic formula, but these simple and effective steps could be the difference between a house share made in heaven or a spare room in hell.
Getting ready for house-hunting
Before you even start hunting for your professional house share, it’s important to do your research around where you want to live and who you might want to live with. It’s also a good idea to get your head around the finances so you know exactly how much you can afford to avoid disappointment.
1. Have your deposit ready
The market moves fast, with the best properties sometimes being snapped up in days. Therefore it’s a good idea to ensure you have enough saved for your holding deposit and one to two months’ rent, as this could be the difference between securing your accommodation and losing out to the competition!
The deposit will usually be around 4-5 weeks rent, and remember that it’s illegal for your landlord to require you to pay more than 5 weeks’ rent for a deposit.
2. Know your locations
Before you even start searching, list out all of the local areas within your price range and your location criteria. Consider your commute to work, local amenities and stores and proximity to friends and family when deciding where you would like to live.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, do loads of research on the local area so you know exactly what you need to ask the landlord when you arrange a viewing.
3. Talk to friends
It seems like a no brainer, but before searching it’s always a great idea to make a list of friends who may be looking to move house, or just want to switch up their housemates - pairing up with a friend will not only make house hunting easier, but could make your life in a house share a lot more relaxed if you already know at least one of the people you’ll be living with!
Finding the right home
In this day and age, there’s no need to check the newspaper or the local letting agent’s window to find the house share of your dreams – luckily there are loads of apps and websites available to help you find suitable accommodation AND suitable housemates!
4. Utilise social media
There’s no harm using social media to search for housing, or even to spread the word across your network that you’re looking for a room to rent. You never know what a friend might find for you! Alternatively, you can use features such as Facebook Marketplace to find rooms to rent in your local area.
5. Download house-hunting apps
SpareRoom and RoomMatesUK are amongst some of the most popular house share apps to use – but there are so many apps to choose from that it might be worth downloading a few to make sure you’re getting a cross-section of the market, as not all landlords will advertise on all platforms.
6. Set up property alerts
Once you’ve done your initial research and downloaded some apps, it’s worth signing up for property alerts from a few different letting agents, as this will make sure you see the best properties to rent as soon as they’re available!
Once you’ve found the right property…
7. Register your interest – quickly!
Don’t delay - once you’ve found accommodation that ticks all your boxes, be quick to register your interest with the current flatmates or landlord (depending on the situation – some landlords are happy for flatmates to arrange new residents, as long as they receive the full rental amount at the end of the month!).
8. Ask all your questions
Make sure you ask any questions about the property the advert may not have clarified. No one has time to waste, so talking through concerns and questions beforehand will help everyone save time and money.
Stuck for questions? It’s always worth knowing the following:
- Are bills included?
- Who should you get in touch with if something goes wrong?
- Do they require you to have tenants’ liability insurance?
- How much is the deposit?
- When do you need to let them know you want to renew the tenancy?
9. Talk to the current housemates
If you can, it’s worth giving the current residents a grilling for information, such as how and when the bills are paid and how chores are split – it’ll also give you an opportunity to get to know your future housemates with no obligation to move in if you’re not convinced about them!
Contents insurance for tenants
If you’re moving into a rented home, you may want to consider taking out contents insurance to ensure you’re not left too out of pocket should your favourite items get stolen or damaged.