Professional Sharers

Who are they?

Professional sharers are usually young single people who cut rental costs by living together. As many of their friends will live with their partners, they usually come in smaller groups than students - 2's and 3's. They make up the vast majority of the rental market for two and three bedroom properties.

What do they want?

The most important consideration for sharers is equally sized double rooms. Unlike students, sharers will usually spend most of their time in shared areas and use their bedrooms as bedrooms. So, a good-sized sitting room is also important. A decent sized kitchen is also preferable as sharers will consider the amount of space they have if they wish to prepare different meals at the same time. They will have a reasonable income and will want to entertain at home occasionally. So, they want a well-presented property and will be able to pay decent rents for a property of a good standard. Gardens are not too important to sharers as for the most part, they will not want the added responsibility of maintaining a garden. However, the idea of having a barbeque in the summer is appealing to most tenants so a patio or courtyard garden which is easily looked after would be a good selling point. They have to get to work each day so good transport links and parking facilities are a bonus too.

The benefits of renting to professional sharers.

They are working people and consequently will spend relatively little time in the property. They are also usually pretty stable financially and reasonably house proud. Make sure that each person living in the property is on the same Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement and therefore jointly and severally liable for the rent or any other costs.

The pitfalls of renting to professional sharers.

The biggest problem I have come across with professional sharers is when one of them wants to move out. They tend to have few ties and can also fall out easily. So, again, make sure they are jointly and severally liable and do not let them make their problems your problems. If one of the tenants wants to move out, agree with them that they must find a suitable replacement for themselves before they will be released from their contract. If possible, don't get involved with refunding a share of the deposit to the tenant who is leaving, get them to sort that out amongst themselves. Then, make sure any paperwork fairly reflects the situation and get all relevant parties to sign any changes - after all, the deposit is still your tenant's money, not yours. The other potential pitfall with sharers is boyfriends and girlfriends who may visit so often that they are essentially living in your property. Before you know it, you go from having two tenants to having four. There is not alot you can do about this and it does not necessarily have to be a problem - you have a deposit from which you can deduct money should the property be returned to you with more that two tenants worth of fair wear and tear but keep an eye on the situation and communicate with your tenants immediately and in writing should you have any concerns. Bear in mind that tenants are entitled to "quiet enjoyment" of the property and should be able to treat it as their home so be fair in all your actions.

A note about buy-to-let investments for sharers.

Two and three bedroom flats and houses are ideal for sharers, particularly two bedroom flats. When purchasing these kinds of properties, make sure that the rooms are good sized double rooms and most importantly, as equal as possible in size. The acheivable rent on a property is determined by who the property is suitable for. So, for example, if you have a three bedroom house where the third bedroom is a box room, you risk your property being overlooked by sharers in favour of cheaper two bedroom properties as the third bedroom is no good to them. Consequently, you may only be able to acheive the same rent as for a two bedroom flat for your three bedroom house.