Looking to rent with 2 friends on a joint tenancy, what problems do I face and how can I solve them

I’ve been looking for a place for a few weeks for me and 2 other friends, we agreed that we wanted to rent under a joint-tenancy and as an entire house/flat as opposed to room by room to give us flexibility in how we live in the house and to avoid some of the inflated rent prices associated with single-room lets.

I have a few questions about this:
After speaking to one estate agent regarding a failed property enquiry, I was informed, that we apparently fell under the banner of an HMO (despite wanted to rent as a joint tenancy) so as a result the landlord would have needed to make changes to the property that they were not prepared to make… (fire escapes, alarms, etc.), Is this the case, or can landlords rent to use without making those changes?

Two of us are in full time employment and I myself am in part-time employment(university lecturer & student), many properties are listed as “fully employed only” Will we find those landlords will accept us or will we find that almost all of them will give a no (or somewhere in-between?)

Are we going to find a large amount of difficulty renting as 3 friends, or are there landlords that will be likely to rent to us.

A couple of us want to avoid going into a place listed as a “student house”, or" suitable for young professionals." as those seem to have restrictive agreements, and sometimes landlords who seem to be all to happy to infringe on the “right to quiet enjoyment”,
will we find places that match what we want and that we can actually rent?

if you, by renting with unrelated friends, then would turn a house into a HMO with all the requirements that go with it to a landlord That would be a red flag to me as a landlord and I would not do it

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How would you suggest overcoming this hurdle, from the viewpoint of the prospective tenant?

This is a hurdle i would not attempt .The legislation is stacked against the landlord . Some landlords will rent in such a manner. so its not impossible for you . When a place becomes an HMO the council want a big “cut” and certain alterations to the property. More than if rented to a family ! Plainly ridiculous

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I completely agree, it sounds pretty ridiculous, I understand that rules are needed to protect us for health and safety reasons, etc. but I don’t see how this should be any different for friends than it is for families. Ultimately we’re not strangers, but through circumstances (all of us being single) we are left at a massive disadvantage when it comes to renting.

We as landlords know this . Nothing wrong with a place being safe.Your earning power may be greater than a "family ", all related. BUt it is the law that can be turned against us if we don’t comply with dotting the i and crossing the t’s. Not to mention all the extra paperwork . Local councils love to target landlords as they are stitched for cash


You need to find an existing HMO - this can still be a joint and several contract, it doesn’t have to be a room by room arrangement. However, the room by room arrangement might be more flexible for singles?

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As a group of three unrelated people you are an HMO
We flip between both HMO an family lets so we can accommodate either market
You will be able to find somewhere as essentially you are three professionals and it’s a good prospect
Part time students, though, do not get council exemption.
If you rent an HMO on a group contract as a house then you are subject to a 24 hour notice.
If you rent three rooms and shared areas (on three individual contracts) your rooms are subject to 24 hour notice. Shared areas are not.
Most landlords do give 24 hours notice as a courtesy and don’t infringe on your quiet enjoyment ( legally translated as do not harass you).
Estate agents, though, are a different beast and do try it on where they can. regarding the 24 hour rule.
I don’t think you should dismiss the student or professional lets as they are usually done to a high standard and are furnished


A three person, joint tenancy has to meet all the provisions of the HMO Management Regulations, but not the Fire Safety Order 2005. That means they won’t need a Fire Risk Assessment, but must still ensure their property is fire safe. Depending on the configuration of the property, that may not mean fire doors, but it probably does mean a mains wired interlinked smoke alarm system. These are not so expensive these days so it may be possible that a landlord would be willing to take you on. The rest of the Management Regulations are fairly straightforward and just good practice really.

The potential fly in the ointment is if, in the area you are looking, the Council has introduced an Additional Licensing scheme which covers 3 person HMOs. If they have then there will be significant extra costs and regulations for the landlord and you will then only be able to rent from HMO landlords.

Incidentally, it is almost certainly in your interest if you do find an HMO landlord to rent the rooms individually. With a joint tenancy, one of you would not be able to end their tenancy unless it ends for everyone. You would also be liable for each others rent and any damage.

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Regarding fire safety, that will depend on the LA. In a three bed our LA ask for either egress windows with a fire safety hinge or a fire door with intumescent strips, door stop and fire hinges
The big priority is separating the kitchen from the rest of the house.

Internal doors with locks on bedrooms would require thumb locks as would the main doors

Costs may add up if your Landlord has to meet the LA requirements and they are used to family lets.
Homestamp is a good reference for what a Landlord requires

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Unless the Council licences 3 bed HMOs, they can’t insist on those things. They’re advisory only. However, I don’t know whether the landlords insurance would cover a situation where the landlord ignored the Council’s safety advice.


Whats to stop 2 signing, then moving their mate in unofficially,

I would rather be listed on the tenancy agreement and have the associated legal protections and rights.

if any of us were to be moved in without being listed in the agreement, then the unlisted tenant could be kicked out by the landlord, or even worse all of us could be evicted for breaching the tenancy.

It wouldn’t be worth the risk,
personally I would rather have the landlord on side, as a previous commenter mentioned landlords appear to be as frustrated as we are with the rules re:HMOs vs single renting.

I would prefer to do this the right way, in short


University’s have their own rental listings which go through much more rigorous checks than the legislation requires.
University Landlords also have to be accredited with the LA ( I speak for our Universities).
We had to do EPC a decade before it became a legal requirement.

Nicholas Humphrey as an estate agent deal with the type of let you are asking for.

Speak to your university housing department. They usually post to all Landlords directly asking for accommodation specific to your needs.

Its a case of looking around and seeing what properties are available to rent that let to 3 sharers. I’ve a 3 bed and have always rented to 3 individuals who aren’t related but want to live together. The area, property seems to attract sharers than families. Yes, the council imposed licensing in the area a couple of year ago which meant I had to become an HMO and comply with conditions.
Pitfalls of a joint tenancy as people said is mainly if one of you default or decide to move out. It means picking up their share or finding another sharer if you didn’t want to move out. Having separate tenancies means the rooms are individually let so if one moved out the landlord could rent to whoever they found was suitable.

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You do have another option. 2 rent a property and one goes into an HMO.