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How to manage a flatshare

Sharing a flat is an exciting rite of passage for many young people, but it can go badly wrong without rotas and money management

Three students sharing a laptop
Sharing a flat is an exciting rite of passage but it needs organisation and planning to be successful

Over three quarters of a million people will be starting university this autumn, throughout Cumberland and across the UK. It’ll be the first time many people have moved out of their family homes and moved into shared accommodation. Yet regardless of whether you’re joining friends, relatives or strangers in a rental property, there are some not-so-secret pitfalls waiting in the wings if you don't manage a flatshare effectively.

These are our recommendations on how to manage a flatshare, ensuring that the positives of living with other people outweigh the negatives…

Establish ground rules

Life is often unpredictable when you’re young, and people’s circumstances can change quickly. Plan for a few common scenarios – whether people are allowed to bring dates home, and whether a new partner can move in. The same rules must apply to everyone, so if person A isn’t allowed to throw wild parties every Friday night, person B can’t either. Be honest in these discussions – it’s much better than people not speaking their mind and then becoming resentful or wanting to move out.

Create a cleaning rota

At Queen of Gleam, we’re experts in putting the sparkle back into any property. However, it’s much easier for our talented team to work their magic if our clients are doing the basics. That means taking out the rubbish, washing pots every night (or loading and unloading the dishwasher), putting things away and keeping floors clear. Every abandoned coat, dirty plate and overflowing bin bag slows us down, leaving us less time during each scheduled clean to dust, mop, scrub and vacuum.

Nominate one person to manage the finances

Everyone should pay their fair share of communal bills, unless there are exceptional circumstances where everyone else agrees to waive someone’s costs. It's easier to manage a flatshare if one person (usually the most sensible/sober/sum-savvy) is appointed to oversee property finances. They become a single point of contact for different service providers, managing incomings and outgoings, and ensuring bills aren’t overlooked. This avoids any “I thought you were dealing with it” scenarios.

Keep noise levels down

Thrash metal is an underrated musical genre, but your flatmates won’t thank you for blasting it at full volume late at night – and nor will your neighbours. Bluetooth headphones provide wireless coverage for TVs, stereos, laptops and smartphones, and some models have active noise cancelling to drown out other background noise. Avoid surround-sound speakers with subwoofers, never jump on the floor in upper-storey rooms, and remember raised voices carry long distances at night…

Don’t let maintenance slide

Nobody expects a house full of fresh-faced undergraduates to be DIY experts, least of all your landlord. That’s no excuse for letting the grass grow under your feet, literally or metaphorically. Some maintenance jobs take a matter of seconds, such as pulling up weeds or brushing off cobwebs. Report any cracks or broken/leaking appliances to prevent them getting worse, paying close attention to grout and seals in bathrooms. If either fails, water could leak and cause major issues.

Trust your senses

Building on the last point, if there’s a persistent damp smell in the bathroom, there’s probably a leak behind the walls. Recurring scratching noises under decking could indicate rats, and increasingly bouncy floorboards suggest problems with wooden joists. Don’t assume it’s not a problem if you can’t see it – listen to your other senses as well. Preventative repairs will allow you to stay in your chosen property, rather than having to move out while overdue remedial works take place…

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