Living with a tenant - how to be a flatmate and a landlord at the same time

From a landlord’s perspective, living in your own home while tenants occupy any spare rooms can be an effective means of property ownership.  Not only do you have regular sums coming in to help cover your mortgage repayments, you also have an extra set of eyes to keep watch on the property if you are out or away.     

Living with a friend or family member also has a certain appeal –a shared history means you probably already have a fair idea of what the tenant may be like to live with and a good level of trust will exist.

However, regardless of whether it is with a friend or someone you have only just met, living with a tenant does not come without issues.  From my own experiences and what people living in this situation have told me, there are common problems that can sometimes arise.  It is important to avoid these issues from the outset so as to ensure a harmonious living environment.   
The first is that a feeling of discontent can develop as the tenant may not feel as comfortable as they would if the landlord didn’t live in, even if you are a friend.  There is not that feeling of paying a regular sum of money to an anonymous party; rather the landlord is right there privy to their every move.  There may also be a feeling of imbalance as the notion of friends ‘renting together’ is absent -  the tenant may feel that they can’t make the same requests of their housemate as they would if renting with another person (e.g. rules around partners staying over, cleaning etc) because the housemate owns the property. 

The second issue which may come up is when the landlord experiences problems with the tenant, but does not wish to confront and create a tense environment with someone they must live with and see on a daily basis. 

To further complicate the issue, when living with a friend or family member, difficulty can sometimes arise when certain steps that are normal in a rental situation are ignored due to the landlord’s familiarity with the tenant.  A bond isn’t received for instance, or the proper legal paperwork is put to the side. 

Once the shared living situation commences, for the landlord it can also be difficult to treat a friend as you would a normal tenant if a dispute arises, for instance you are not happy with their treatment of the property or if they fall behind in rental payments.  It is often easier to exercise legal rights on an unknown than it is on a friend.

To protect against such problems arising, in any shared living situation where the landlord lives in, it can be helpful for the landlord to establish from the very beginning that the tenant should feel at home in the property and for a set of mutually agreed upon house rules to be put in place.  These might include policies on cleaning, cooking and how often guests (such as partners) are able to stay over.

It is also very important that all the legal avenues are taken so as to protect both parties.  Even when the parties have known each other for a long time, there is nothing like an outstanding expense or charge for damage to push the friendship to its limits.  Legal protection should hopefully ensure the friendship can withstand any disputes that arise. 

Living in your own property should be an enjoyable experience, especially if you find yourself able to share with a friend.  Ensure that your time spent living together is mutually beneficial and take time to ensure that all proper rental processes have been followed and satisfied.

Posted by Charles Tarbey on 22/11/2010 at 2:14 PM | Categories: CENTURY 21 Solutions -


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