How to Cope in a Shared House
With the recession biting hard even a few years after it started, it seems that being able to own your own house is something that’s beyond the reach of many people. It’s not just students who are turning to house sharing as the way forward – the rising cost of private rental also means that when teenagers and young adults leave home for the first time they are moving into shared accommodation rather than shelling out on renting their own home.
Older people are also finding it hard to afford a place of their own. Separation and divorce mean that couples are being left with a home to sell in a market that isn’t moving, and so they are moving back with parents, or in with friends in a shared house, so that they can manage to keep their homes, or get away from a stressful situation with their ex.
A House Share that Went WrongTracy, 37, moved in with a long-term friend after both of their marriages broke up. It didn’t go well…Tracy explains why.“I moved in with Yvonne to help her out financially. My marriage had broken up some time before and I’d been renting a flat, and when her husband walked out of their mortgaged home, leaving her with a mortgage to pay and no way of covering the bills, I agreed that it would make sense if we pooled resources and I moved in. Big mistake.
“Yvonne was very attached to her home, despite it having bad memories, and was desperate to hold on to it. She clearly saw me as a way of keeping her house…and although she was on a low-paid job, she made no effort to try and get a better position once I’d moved in. I was her cash cow, and watched her turn down several possible jobs because they were ‘inconvenient’.
When is a House Share not a House Share?Tracy soon realised that sharing the house was not the egalitarian option she’d been led to believe it would be…“Yvonne really just wanted a lodger but she sold the idea to me as a shared house arrangement where we were equals. To this end, she charged me 50% of the mortgage and bills. However, she made sure I knew my place in the pecking order, and if she wanted the living room to herself I was banished to my bedroom, despite it being officially a shared house. I felt uncomfortable inviting friends over, and they didn’t want to come anyway because she made them feel so unwelcome.
“Yvonne also gave her parents a set of keys to the house, and let her dad come and go as he pleased to use the shed or pick up her pet dog and take him for a walk. I worked from home and found his visits very intrusive. At first he would ring the doorbell but this soon gave way to walking in whenever he felt like it.”
Moving OutTracy eventually decided to move out of the shared house, as she was so miserable, but the decision didn’t go down well with Yvonne, who started to deliberately do things to annoy Tracy while she was waiting to move out.
“Yvonne knew that she was going to lose the house as she’d lost her lodger. She was very unhappy and blamed me for having to sell up, instead of blaming her ex for leaving her and not paying the mortgage. I’d also felt uneasy that her ex could have come in at any time and thrown me out, she hadn’t told her home insurer or mortgage company that I was there, and it all felt wrong to me.”
The women parted their shared house arrangement on bad terms and it ruined their friendship.
How to live in a Shared House AmicablyAnother shared house owner, Diane, rented out a spare room to a lodger many years ago, and the pair are still on good terms now after a successful 18 months living together. Diane explains;
“Wendy was a friend of a friend who left university and wanted somewhere other than her parents’ house to live. I agreed to rent her a small bedroom in my three-bedroom house, and that the amount I charged would cover everything except the phone bill.
“I kept the rent low as she was a friend. I made sure I told my insurer and mortgage company and I knew the amount I was able to charge tax-free so I knew that the rent I was charging wasn’t taxable.
“We shared the house – I gave her space in the fridge, freezer and kitchen cupboards and she had a TV in her bedroom as well as quite often spending time sitting in the living room with me. We also had a separate dining room so that we didn’t always have to socialise together. “Wendy was always very respectful – she knew I had no problem with her having friends over, or to stay, but all I asked was that if she wanted anyone to stay the night, she let me know first. To her credit, she always did, and her boyfriend was a regular visitor. I got along with him well too.
“Our arrangement only came to an end when she wanted more room and my partner wanted to move in – three was a crowd so we parted on good terms and still keep in touch now!”