Skip to main content
Shelter Logo

Living with flatmates

When you move in with flatmates, decide how you’ll split rent and bills. If you have a dispute, there are steps you can take to resolve things.

Your rights will depend on who your landlord is, and if you live with them.

Check your tenancy agreement

When you move in, you'll usually sign a tenancy agreement. Make sure you understand the terms in it. It will list your rights and responsibilities.

If you and your flatmates sign the same agreement, this is a joint tenancy. The landlord might insist you sign a joint tenancy for their convenience.

If you get separate tenancies, it's easier to end it if only one of you wants to move out.

If your landlord does not give you a tenancy agreement, contact a Shelter Scotland adviser. They’ll check if you should have one, and advise you on how to get it from your landlord.

Your rights as a tenant

If you’re moving into a new private let, you’ll usually have a private residential tenancy.

Check your rights if you have a private residential tenancy

Your rights will be different:

Additionally, you may have extra rights and responsibilities:

Check how much rent you’ll pay

If you have a separate tenancy, you only have to pay the rent written in your tenancy agreement.

If you’re in a joint tenancy, then you’ll be equally responsible for paying the rent. If one person does not pay, the landlord can ask the other tenants for the rent money.

If you decide not to split the rent equally, write an agreement and sign it so there’s no misunderstandings.

Decide how to split bills and council tax

Every tenant is equally responsible for paying council tax and utility bills. This means if one person does not pay, the other tenants can be asked to cover it.

If you decide not to split bills equally, write an agreement and sign it so there are no misunderstandings.

If all of you are students, you could get a council tax exemption. This means you'll pay no council tax. Check who has to pay council tax.

There are also council tax discounts and reductions available. Check if you can pay less council tax.

If you or a flatmate have money problems

Check if you’re entitled to any extra benefits or support. Use the benefits checker on the Turn2Us website.

If you’re a student, you could get support from a hardship fund at your college or university.

If you have a dispute with a flatmate

Follow these steps to try and resolve a dispute.

Step 1: speak to the person

Only do this if you feel safe doing so. Never put yourself in danger by confronting someone.

If you're able to speak to them, ask a trusted family member or friend to be with you for support. Explain what impact their behaviour has on you. Try to reach a compromise that works for both of you.

Step 2: speak to your landlord if you’re able to

They may be able to speak to the flatmate for you, or help you come to a compromise.

It’s important to consider how your landlord will react. If there are serious problems, they may not want to deal with it and could try to evict you. If you’re worried about eviction from your home, contact a Shelter Scotland adviser.

Step 3: ask the person to go to mediation

This is led by a mediator who is an independent professional. They’ll help you come to a compromise with your flatmate.

It’s not a legally binding decision, but it can help you find a solution to your problem.

Find a mediator on Scottish Mediation

Step 4: if you decide to move out

If you cannot compromise or keep living with the flatmate, the easiest thing may be to move out.

Make sure you end your tenancy correctly. Otherwise you may still be liable for bills and rent, even if you move out.

Follow our guidance on how to end your tenancy correctly.

If a flatmate owes you money for rent or bills

You can claim the money back if you cover a flatmate’s rent or bills and they do not pay you back.

First, write to them. Explain why they owe you money, and say how much they owe. Keep a copy of the letter or email you send. You’ll need to show that you tried to resolve it before going to court.

If they still refuse to pay, you can claim the money back in court. You can apply using simple procedure to claim back up to £5,000. Check Citizens Advice for guidance on how to use simple procedure.

If you're in danger or being threatened

If you or someone else in your flat is in danger, call the police on 999 to report it. If you’re reporting something that happened before or you’re worried could happen later, call them on 101.

A flatmate cannot evict you or make you leave your home.

If you’re being harassed by someone you live with, check our guidance on dealing with harassment.

Last updated: 17 March 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England