East of Scotland Housing Choice - Edinburgh, Lothians, Falkirk and South Borders
Watch our housing dramas
Make a success of your flat share!
Flat sharing can be a good way to live - if you avoid the pitfalls.
In these scenarios, Carly and Jake find themselves sharing, as many will when they leave home or care. That's because the rules around housing costs don't allow you full housing benefit, until you are 35.
Like many flat sharers, Carly and Jake are strangers, who need to learn to live together. And tolerate each other's quirky habits. Even when you share with friends, they may still shock you!
Our newbies get a lot right. But they get a lot wrong too, which can be dangerous.
Figures show that young and first time flat sharers run a relatively high eviction risk. If that eviction is your own fault you may not get full homelessness help.
Below these video scenarios you will find practical tips to avoid making mistakes.
Jake’s dream of a place of his own is turning into a nightmare. He’s lonely and demotivated. Can a flatmate turn him around?
2. FLAT OF MY OWN
Carly has to escape her miserable home life. Advice about Housing Options helps her find a let. But she will have to share ...
3. BROKEN BOILER
Carly and Jake’s first flatmates test. How will they cope when the boiler is about to blow? Will they know what to do?
There’s living with an untidy flatmate. Then there’s living with his stinky trainers. Jake’s footwear threatens the flat share.
Do know what it’s like to have no money? It seems Jake doesn’t ...
When a neighbour’s cat is hit by Carly’s flying teabag, Jake steps in to stop a fight.
You get more than a flatmate when you share - you get their pals. And they can be a real pain.
8. LANDLORD CALLS
Carly and Jake are scared the landlord discovers they broke the telly. OMG, who is that at the door!!!?
9. BIG BATH
Jake pushes it to the limit ...and Carly breaks. A relaxing bath is anything but. Is there no way back?
Carly and Jake get good advice - and a second chance. But has Jake really changed?
It's easy to feel alone. Keeping your problems to yourself and acting like everything's OK. Then you find you're letting things slip, and before you know it you're stuck in a rut of misery. But help is out there. Breathing Space will listen to your thoughts and feelings and help to stop them overwhelming you. And Mood Juice is an online resource to help you deal with troublesome thoughts. Other help is available from the NHS. Or try these apps: Sleepio, STOPP and Calm.
2. FLAT OF MY OWN
Reasonably priced housing can be hard to find. If you need help getting somewhere to live, ask your local council for a housing options interview. When you find a place you'll need to know how to pay for it. Local Housing Allowance helps people on benefits/low incomes with rent. What you get will depend on your age and your household type as this government advice explains. This website calculates what you might receive. And you can find out about grants, loans and advances.
3. BOILER TROUBLE - DEALING WITH EMERGENCIES
Boiler breakdown is just one of many things that can go wrong. You might have blocked drains, a fridge that won't stay cold or no TV signal. When you move in, make yourself familiar with any instruction manuals and put key contact numbers in a convenient place. If you have an emergency - even outside normal working hours - you should know how to deal with it. Home Energy Scotland can help with your heating and you may be eligible for support under the Home Energy Efficiency programme. Or try the British Gas Energy Trust.
4. TIDINESS - CONSIDERATION FOR YOUR FLATMATES
Having a tenancy for the first time is never easy - let alone sharing with people who you don't know. You can fall out with someone you think is untidy or has antisocial habits - but it may be harder to recognise your own failings! Here is some general advice for first time tenants. Your landlord will want to see his property kept well and you will have a legal duty. Shelter Scotland also has good advice on flat-shares. If you're not used to cleaning for yourself, Good Housekeeping can help.
It's obvious you need money to pay the rent and your bills. But sometimes flat-sharers have different incomes and expectations. And if you have a 'kitty' for food and bills you have to be able to trust your flatmate not to blow it on something you don't really need. If s/he is spending on scratch cards instead of buying the bread and milk, then this NHS site for problem gambling may help. For general debt advice try Citizens Advice or Trust Deed Scotland.
Falling out with your neighbours can put your tenancy at risk. There are many flashpoints and the fault isn't always on one side. It can cause huge stress but most councils run a mediation service. A non-judgmental and practical discussion often helps resolve the matter. Issues that cause rows include, not cleaning common stairs. Especially if rubbish isn't put out properly. Noise is a big factor. In particular, noisy parties. Always alert the neighbours if you are going to have a party. BTW throwing tea-bags out of the window isn't advisable!
7. MATES - DO'S AND DON'TS
This is sometimes called, 'managing your door.' Making sure that only people you feel safe with, visit your flat - and that they behave themselves. That's because the landlord will come after you if they don't. You have rights of course but you also have duties - as this Shelter webpage explains. People you don't know well may be hard to prevent from having anti-social behaviour.
9. BIG BATH - BIG PROBLEM
As they say, "there's no cure for stupid." If you have agreed to save money in a flat share, by cutting back on items like gas or electricity, then stick with the program. Nothing causes more trouble in a flat share than not being able to trust your sharer. Energy costs are likely to be the highest shared expense after the rent.
A breakdown in relations is one of the commonest causes of homelessness in Scotland. That can be between partners, or between parents and children. It can also happen between flatmates. Services exist to 'mediate' and mend fall-outs. As with neighbour mediation no 'sides' are taken and the mediator is not judgemental. Scottish Mediation is a good place to start your search for a mediator. If your tenancy is with a Council or a Housing Association, they may be able to help you, as well.