Working Away Accommodation

by Steve on May 3, 2010

Working Away/ Renting Rooms

If you find youself in the position of having to work away from home and need to find accommodation for longer than a few days then renting a room may be a cost effective option.  Sharing a room can cut the costs even further and open up more possibilities than hotel or B&B options.

An introduction to flatsharing

So what exactly is a ‘flatshare’?

Simply put a flatshare is when a group of two or more individuals join together to rent a property. In most cases each person has their own bedroom and communal areas like living rooms, kitchen and bathrooms are shared.

Why should I consider sharing?

Sharing is a much more economical way of living than living on your own. You’ll still need a kitchen, bathroom and living room if you live on your own so, by sharing, you split the cost of these rooms with the other housemates. You can also split council tax and bills which helps keep costs down. Sharing can also be great socially as you’ll get to meet new people, sharers often end up lifelong friends.

How do I go about finding a room?

With the advent of online listings sites it’s easier than ever to find a good flatshare. Until recently people had to rely on print adverts in local newspapers to find a room and, due to the slow turnaround of print media compared with online, rooms had often gone before the paper even reached the newsagents. Online listings on site such as Spareroom are updated hourly or even every 30 minutes so are far more up to date. In addition an online ad gives you the chance to add photos, detailed descriptions and even video to your listing so you can see exactly what the room is like before you trek accross town to see it.

Who will I be sharing with?

Pretty much anyone is the answer. Flatshares are no longer the sole territory of students and low income twenty-somethings, today’s sharer is just as likely to be a financially independent professional in their late 20s or early 30s who expects a high standard of living. The average age of flat sharers in the UK, according to a survey of Spareroom’s 400,000+ registered users, is over 33 and rising every year.

Advertisers on flatshare sites include teenagers, families with a spare room to rent and parents whose children have left home and want to rent their room out for a little extra income. With such a wide range of options you’re bound to find something to fit your needs.

Is there anything I can do to help me find the right flatshare?

Obviously you can check all the listings for rooms in the areas you want to live in but it might also be worth placing a ‘Room wanted’ ad. You’ll be able to tell people where you’re looking to live, how much your budget is and a bit of general info about yourself. Many advertisers and landlords regularly check the wanted ads for suitable sharers so give yourself the best possible chance. have some useful tips on placing a room wanted ad.

Flatshare terms

Flatshare listings are full of confusing terms and jargon and, especially if you’re not used to them, they can be a little confusing at times. Here’s a quick guide to some of the phrases you’re most likely to find in a flatshare listing. For a full list see’s Flatshare Glossary.


Single room accomodation which serves as a bedroom and living space in one. Generally sharing a bathroom and/or kitchen with others. Abbreviation of ‘bed sitting room’.

Bills included

Means utilities such as gas, electricity and water are included in the rent. Council tax and other bills such as phone or broadband may be included but check in advance which bills are covered.

Buddy up

Seen a 2 bed+ flat or house you like but can’t afford it on your own? Why not club together with friends or like-minded people on spareroom and start your own flat or house share? To find out what implications this has in terms of tenancy agreements etc, see our guide to buddying up.


A single storey house.

Buy to let

The term used to describe buying a property with the specific intention of renting it out rather than living in it.

Contents insurance

A policy covering your personal posessions, clothes, furniture etc as opposed to Buildings insurance which covers the structure itself. See also Room contents insurance.


A written agreement between the tenant(s) and landlord, signed by both parties, setting out the terms of the tenancy. See ‘Tenancy agreement’.


Refers to a house which has been divided to make 2 or more flats.


Generally refers to smaller rural properties.


A fixed sum taken by landlords/letting agents at the start of a tenancy to cover reasonable losses (rent arrears, damage etc.). See also ‘Tenancy deposit scheme’.


Refers to a house which is completely separate from its neighbours.

Double room

This applies to the size of the room and means a room that has, or can fit, a double bed.

Ex-local authority

Refers to a property which was formerly owned by the council. Often, especially in London, this refers to purpose built blocks of flats.


Generally refers to a property occupying only part of a building, known as an apartment in the US. Blocks of flats can be purpose built or in converted houses.

Flatmate, Flat mate, Flatmates, Flat mates

A term mainly used in the UK and Australia to describe someone who shares the flat or apartment with you. Generally housemate is used when the property is a house.

Flatshare, Flat share

Sharing a property (usually a flat) with one or more people where each person usually has their own bedroom. See also ‘Houseshare’.

Garden flat

Literally a flat with a garden.


Usually refers to a whole property. One house can contain several flats.

Houseshare, House share

Sharing a house with one ore more people. See also ‘Flatshare’.


Some landlords/agents ask tenants to sign an inventory at the same time as their contract. This is a list of all the fixtures and fittings in the room and their current condition. Always check carefully and report any mistakes or ommissions BEFORE signing. Once signed, this document provides proof to protect both the tenant and the landlord when inspecting the room on moving out.

Live-in landlord

A homeowner who rents out one or more rooms in their property whilst living there themselves.

Live-out landlord

A landlord who rents a property they do not live in themselves.


A lodger is a tenant who rents a room (or rooms) in another’s house, usually from a Live in landlord.


A flat on two levels with internal stairs and/or it’s own street-level front door.

Master bedroom

Usually the biggest bedroom in a property.


Mews are traditionally rows of former stables converted into residential properties. The ground floor stable area is generally a garage and the living quarters (which would have housed the ostler) are above.


Not available to those reliant on state benefits to pay their rent.


Per calendar month.

Purpose built

Refers to a collection of flats built as such rather than a conversion.


Per week.

Room contents insurance

A specific policy to cover those who rent a room within a property.

Roommate, Roommates, Roomate, Roomates

An american term which is now used internationally due to American film and TV. As the name suggests it can either be use to describe someone who shares a room with you, or who shares a flat or house with you (i.e. they don’t have to be in the same room to bes described as a roommate!).

Semi or Semi detached

Refers to two houses joined together.


A term usually applied to those living in shared accomodation together.

Short term let

Refers to a tenancy generally lasting for 3 months or less. Standard tenancies are usually 6 months and above.

Single room

Refers to a smaller room with space for a single bed rather than a double.

Speed Flatmating �

Find a flatmate using the speed dating format.


Generally a single room for cooking, living and sleeping with its own bathroom.

Tenancy agreement

A contract (verbal or written but usually written) between landlord and tenant. The contract outlines the rights both parties have (eg. your right to occupy the property and the landlord’s right to receive rent from you). See also ‘Contract’.

Tenancy deposit scheme

A government scheme introduced in 2007 to safeguard deposits taken by landlords.


Someone who rents and occupies a property from another.


Showing someone round (or being shown round) a property.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kenni James May 5, 2010 at 07:24

UK laws on protecting a tenant deposit changed for the good of the tenant in April 2007, when the Tenancy Deposit Protection regulations came into force.
People taking an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) who 1) Pay a Deposit; and 2) whose Deposit can be used if the tenant falls into arrears or messes up the property are owed duties by the landlord (*provided that the annual rental is no more than £25,000 PA, though as of October 1st 2010, that amount will rise to £100,000 PA). They are that the Landlord must pay the deposit into one of the approved schemes and that the Landlord must also give the tenant specific information to his/ her deposit and the scheme into which it is placed. If this is not carried out within a given timeframe, then the tenant can take the Landlord to Court and the Landlord will be forced to pay a set amount of money under a Strict Liability court ruling.
The Landlord may make defend the claim or even make a counter-claim if they believe that you have breached the terms of the AST, but this cannot be used as mitigation and has nothing to do with the tenant claim. Courts have usually ordered that the Landlord make a separate claim.
The property that you rented must have been one that you occupied as you main home and one where the Landlord did not live at the property but lived elsewhere. If the Landlord lived at the property, they will not usually have to protect the deposit, although the rules are quite complicated (Paragraph 10 of Schedule 1 of the Housing Act 1988).
The claim is always against the person who received the deposit, if it was the Landlord, then the claim is against them, if it was an Agent, then they are directly responsible for the deposit. The law says that the ‘Landlord’ includes anybody that is acting on their behalf and if in doubt, sue the Landlord. If there is more than one of them, make a claim against them all. Note that the address has to be in England or Wales. If you are unsure of who the responsible person is, make the claim against the Landlord.
You can find out who the Landlord (registered proprietor) is by asking the person to whom you pay the rent. They have a duty to provide the information to you within 21 days, failure to do so is a Criminal Offence under UK law.
The legislation is to protect tenants and not provide them with a windfall payment. However Courts do not take kindly to Landlords that wilfully ignore, or seem to wilfully ignore the basic and simple regulations.
AUTHOR – Kenni James – FREE and professional legal advice for UK tenants
0800 542 4886

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