Legal Q&A: can I rent out my room if I’ve bought with a friend and want to move in with my boyfriend?

Question: My New year’s resolution was pretty simple — to move in with my boyfriend as soon as possible. However, I bought my house with my best girl mate.

We have a joint mortgage and share the bills. Can I rent out my room to someone to get some income to help pay my share of the mortgage and half the bills? Does my housemate have a say in it?

Answer: You are likely to own the house as tenants in common because in general co-owners who are not married and are not civil partners hold property in that way.

In such cases, it is advisable to have a declaration of trust setting out the shares each of you owns in the property and also agreements you have made regarding such matters as responsibility for the usual utility bills; maintenance costs; what happens if one of you wants to sell or move out, and so on.

Hopefully, when you purchased, the solicitor who acted for you gave you guidance in relation to this.

Check to see whether you have a declaration of trust that covers your current situation and if you do, then you should follow the procedure set out.

If there is no declaration of trust, explain your plans to your housemate.

Invite her to be involved in the search for someone to rent your room as, after all, she will be living with that person. 

Though you are entitled to let the room, should your housemate be difficult, it is unlikely that anyone will want to live there with her and you could be left with an empty room and a mortgage to pay.

In that case you may need to discuss selling the house with your friend, or other options such as renting out the whole place.

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. Questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a solicitor specialising in residential property.

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