There a lot of people that have a flatmate agreement in the UK. This is because these are the guys that share their home with a roommate to split the cost of the rent. While both tenants will have signed a lease agreement with the landlord, it can sometimes make sense to have a written and signed flatmate agreement too.
If you have ever experienced a flatmate that leaves dishes in the sink, never puts the bins out or always seems to have dirty clothes lying around, then you are probably already wondering why on earth you didn’t insist on a flat-share tenancy agreement right at the very beginning.
You can find a free room-mate contract template here to help you in making sure your room-mate, and yourself, know and understand each other’s responsibility in the shared home. The free template is for you to use should you not be sure how to make a roommate agreement.
What is a flatmate agreement in the UK?
A room-mate or flatmate agreement is a legal document that outlines the responsibilities of each person that is sharing the home. These responsibilities can take the form of any number of things, such as who pays what share of a given utility bill, who cleans up on what days, what share of the rent each person pays… The list is virtually endless, but it does pay to have an agreement just in case.
Having an agreed-upon, and signed, can save tenants (yourself included) a lot of headaches later on if a flat-share turns sour because nobody can agree on who is meant to do what; a signed agreement removes all ambiguity.
Is a flat-share tenancy agreement legally binding?
They are legally binding, yes. It is worth noting that an agreement is a contract, is just a matter of semantics. If, for instance, there is a serious breach of the agreement such as damage to property, rent payments not being made by a flatmate, then the offender can be taken to court.
It should be remembered however that a court is not likely to enforce a flat-share agreement if somebody is ‘in breach of’ certain aspects of said agreement.
Such aspects could include things like:
- Dirty dishes always being left lying around
- Bins not being taken out
- Letters not being sorted
- Quiet times not being respected
While these may well be valid complaints, and they should be in any flat-share agreement, they are not likely going to be of interest to a court. Include them, by all means, as they should form the basis of any flat-share tenancy agreement – especially in a multiple occupation HMO, where more than two people are likely to be tenants.
What should a flatmate agreement include?
You should take your time drafting a room-mate agreement, as it may be difficult to add things later after a flatmate agreement in the UK has been signed. There are a few things that should be included, and others that may be more dependant on your situation – every arrangement is different, after all. A room-mate agreement template makes life easier, but be sure that at least the following two considerations are in there:
Before the first rent payment is due, giving yourself as much time as possible, you need to work out two things with regards to the rent:
- How the rent is going to be divided between the tenants
- Who is going to be responsible for giving the money to the landlord
Most of the time, rent will be split evenly, but there may be instances where you want to divide the rent differently. This may happen where one flatmate has a significantly larger room or an ensuite, for example.
When deciding who will be responsible for paying the landlord, that will likely depend on how your landlord wants their rent to be paid. The majority prefer one single payment at the end, or the start, of the month as opposed to multiple payments.
You need to work out how you are going to pool the payments and then get it to the landlord on time, and in one go. Also, consider what happens if a roommate moves out – how will the rent be divided between the other tenants? All of this needs to be included in the flatmate agreement in the UK.
Making utility payments
As with the rent payments, decide how utility payments should be divided and who will be responsible for making the actual payment to the provider(s) and have this included in the flat-share tenancy agreement.
One possible route is to have everything listed under one person’s name and have the others pay their share into that person’s bank account. Alternatively, you could state that each person takes turns paying different utilities and have a rotation system.
Getting these things agreed as early as possible is going to help avoid arguments later.
Does my flatmate agreement need to be notarized?
Flatmate agreements, properly prepared (this is where our flatmate agreement UK template comes in handy), are already legally binding so there is no need to have them notarized at a law firm. Notarized or not, flat-share tenancy agreements are legally binding, and they can be upheld in a UK court.
It should be noted also that a flatmate agreement in the UK is not the same thing as a tenancy agreement. The first agreement is between the individual tenants, while the second is an agreement between the landlord and the tenant. They sound a little similar on first hearing, but one should not be confused with the other.