This blog post is for tenants who rent a room (or two) in a shared house where they share facilities, such as kitchen and living room, in the property with other tenants.
I was prompted to write this as I had an email from a tenant who said that one of his co-tenants smokes cannabis and leaves his dishes unwashed for long periods which he thinks is a health hazard. What can he do?
This is a very difficult problem. If you are a joint and several tenant with this person, ie if you both signed the same tenancy agreement, then at least you have only yourself to blame, as it was your choice to share a property with them.
However if you rent a room in a shared house, then you generally have no control over who the other tenants are – this is up to the landlord. So you may be living with congenial people one day, and then suddenly find that the whole tenor of the house has changed due to the landlord letting a room to one incompatible person.
What can you do?
The immediate answer is not much. You do not have any legal rights regarding this and have no power over the choice of your co-tenants. This is the problem about this sort of accommodation. Some landlords are considerate to their tenants and take care to choose someone acceptable, but not all.
There are really only three solutions. Either
- you move out,
- the disagreeable other tenant moves out, or
- you put up with it
This is may be the only solution long term. However you probably do not want to move out. You may like the house and its environs, and why should you be the one to move out anyway?
The other tenant moving out
This is the preferred solution! However he won’t want to move out either, so you will need to get the landlord on your side.
The best thing is to join forces with the other tenants (assuming they also dislike the new tenant) and make a joint compliant. The landlord is more likely to do something if you all complain. For example if you all threaten to leave he will not want this. He may be willing to speak to the tenant and serve an eviction notice on him.
Putting up with it
If you are not able to move out, and the other tenants refuse to join forces to complain to the landlord, and/ or the landlord refuses to do anything, this may be the only option.
If the other tenant is doing something illegal such as using prohibited drugs, one option is to inform the police or (if you want to be anonymous) ring crimestoppers.
But overall it is a very difficult problem and there is no easy answer. Do you have any solutions?
Photo by Steve Parker