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Problems with housemates

There are lots of reasons why you might fall out with your housemates. You might have problems because they are not paying their share of the rent or bills, because they are noisy or because they don't do their share of the household tasks.

What are my options?

The type of problem that you have usually influences what you can do. In the case of personality clashes, it can be helpful if you discuss things. If talking doesn't help, there may be little that can be done to change the situation.

Many problems in shared accommodation are to do with day-to-day living, such as the washing up or the volume of music or smoking in shared space. In these situations, if talking doesn't help, the only options may be to put up with the situation or move out.

For problems such as other housemates making excessive noise or not paying the rent, it may be possible for you, the landlord or the council to take action.

Talking it over

The first step in finding a solution to any problem with the people you live with is to talk to them about the situation. The Site has good advice on how to go about doing this. Set up a discussion where each person says clearly what they want. You may be able to achieve a satisfactory compromise. Do this as early as possible, before the problem gets too serious. You could have a friend there to help negotiate.

Can my landlord help?

If talking doesn't sort out the problem, it may be worth asking your landlord for help. In some cases, the landlord may be able to take action against the other people, although you can't force them to do this. What your landlord can do depends on the type of tenancy you have and the particular problem in your household.

When you moved in, you may have signed one tenancy agreement with all the other occupiers. If you did, you probably have a joint tenancy agreement. Alternatively, each person in your household may have signed separate agreements with your landlord. In this case you are likely to have separate tenancies and may have different rights depending on when you moved in. It may be that only one person in your household has a tenancy agreement with the landlord and the others are effectively subtenants. The page on your rights if you share rented accommodation has more on this.

Can I ask the problem tenant to leave?

If one person is causing all the problems, you may be able to persuade them to move out - although make sure they're definitely the one who's causing the trouble before you speak to them. However, you can not force them to leave check the renting rights and your rights if you share rented accommodation sections for more information. If you have a joint tenancy, you'll probably need to find a new tenant to replace them, or you could divide their share of the rent between the remaining tenants. Your landlord should issue you with a new tenancy agreement listing the names of all the current tenants, although in practice they may not bother to do this.

Can my landlord evict the problem tenant?

If one of your housemates is breaking the terms of your tenancy agreement (for example, if they are causing damage to the property or are disturbing or upsetting you and your neighbours) you may be able to ask your landlord to evict them.

I'm a joint tenant and I rent from a private landlord

If you have a joint tenancy and rent from a private landlord, each tenant is responsible for sorting out any problems between themselves. Only in extreme cases will the landlord or anyone else get involved.

If a joint tenancy ends, it ends for all the tenants. If the landlord wants to end your joint tenancy, they have to give all the joint tenants notice. This means that even if the landlord only wants to evict one tenant, they will need to start eviction proceedings against all of you.

However, if one particular person has been causing the problems (for example, they have not been paying the rent or have been making excessive noise) the landlord may decide to offer the rest of you a new tenancy once the original tenancy has ended. Talk to your landlord about this if you want to stay on.

Find out more about the eviction process for private tenants.

I'm a joint tenant and I rent from the council or an RSL

If you are a joint tenant and you have a Scottish secure tenancy (SST) or short Scottish secure tenancy (SSST) from the council, a housing association or housing cooperative (also known as registered social landlords, or RSLs), your landlord has the option to evict only the joint tenant who is causing the problems. This will not affect the tenancies of any other joint tenants.

If one joint tenant is causing you a lot of problems and has broken the terms of your tenancy agreement, you can ask your landlord if they will evict them. However, your landlord is under no obligation to do so.

Find out more about eviction if you have an SST or SSST.

We have separate tenancies

If you have separate tenancy agreements and one of the other tenants is causing problems, your landlord may be more likely to help you sort the situation out. They may be able to take action to evict the problem housemate, although you can't force them to do this. If this does happen, it won't affect your tenancy.

One person has the tenancy

Sometimes one or more people have a tenancy with the landlord and the other people who live there don't. They are effectively subtenants of the main tenant(s) and have fewer rights. In this situation, the people whose names are on the tenancy agreement may be able to decide who should stay or go if there are problems.

If the problem tenant's name is not on the tenancy agreement, you may be able to evict them by giving them four weeks' notice to leave.

These situations can be very complicated, so get advice from a Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice if you are in this position. Use the Advice Services Directory to find help near you.

What if the problem housemate isn't paying their way?

This is often a source of problems in shared households.

Rent

If you all have separate tenancies, you will only be responsible for your own share of the rent, but if you have a joint tenancy, you will all be jointly and individually responsible for paying all the rent. This means that if one tenant can't or won't pay up, you will have to pay their share for them. If your name is on the tenancy, as far as your landlord is concerned, you will be responsible for paying all the rent, even if other housemates have an agreement with you to pay a share.

Bills

All the people living in the property will be jointly and individually liable for paying the council tax and utility bills, regardless of whose name is on the bill. Again, this means that if one housemate isn't paying their share, the others will need to pay the bills for them.

What can I do if a housemate doesn't pay up?

If you are covering your housemate's share of rent and bills and they are refusing to pay you back, you may be able to take them to the small claims court.

What can I do in extreme cases?

In very extreme cases you may be able to get help from the environmental health department, the courts or the police. This is only likely to be possible in certain situations.

Another tenant has threatened me with violence

Call the police on 999 if you are in immediate danger. To report violence from a housemate after the event, you should call your local police station. You may be able to take out a non-harassment order against the problem tenant.

Another tenant is causing high levels or noise or damage

You may be able to get help from the environmental health department if the noise or damage is so severe that it is causing a serious nuisance.

There is racial or sexual harassment

If you are experiencing racial or sexual harassment from anyone living with you, you can report them to the police.

Can I just leave?

If you can't reach a solution by talking things through with the problem tenant or by getting them to leave, you may have no choice but to leave yourself. However, you can't just walk out - you will need to end your tenancy properly. You will have to give your landlord notice, and you may not be able to end the tenancy until the lease is up. This means that even if you do move out, you'll need to carry on paying rent.

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This content applies to Scotland only.
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The important points

  • The first step in finding a solution to any problem with the people you live with is to talk to them.
  • If talking doesn't sort out the problem, it may be worth asking your landlord for help.
  • If one person is causing all the problems, you may be able to persuade them to move out.
  • If one of your housemates is breaking the terms of your tenancy agreement, you may be able to ask your landlord to evict them.

If you're still looking for help, try searching, or find out how to contact us

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