Questions to Ask when Viewing a Flatshare

Seeking out a flatshare can be a lot to get your head around. When you head to that viewing to meet new potential flatmates, it’s easy to get side-tracked by efforts to appear uber hip and groovy and waste the entire visit talking about a Red Hot Chilli Peppers concert you never even went to instead of attaining actual useful information about what might become your home. 

Happens to the best of us.

So we’re making it easy for you. This is your bible. Memorise it, print it, frame it, whatever you like; when you go to a viewing, just try and guage as much as you can on these key topics.

Sections in this article:

    1. The tenancy contract
    1. The property
    1. The people
    1. Your prospective responsibilities as a new tenant
    1. The neighbourhood

1. The tenancy contract

    • How much is your monthly rent?
    • What is included in the rent? (See more about this below)
    • What additional bills do you have to pay and how much are they? Naturally there will be broadband/TV/water/energy/council tax to cover—ask how the flatmates split these.
    • How much deposit is required? Which tenancy deposit protection scheme does the landlord protect the deposit in? (Really, you just need to know that your deposit is protected).
    • What notice period to quit is required?
    • Who should you contact in an emergency, such as a flood or fire?

What insurance does the landlord have to cover the property? What do you need to insure yourself? 

It’s key to ask about the person you’ll be in the contract with: the landlord. What are they like? Some landlords are very responsive and helpful, and finding a good landlord will make a big difference if anything goes wrong with the property or your flatmates.  

Looking for the right room for you? Check out some great flat-shares on ideal flatmate here.

2. The property

What’s included?

Ask what came with the property and what the tenants brought. 

    • Your bedroom | If the previous tenant hasn’t moved out at the time of your viewing, check what’s staying and what’s going with them. Think bed, desk, curtains/blinds, cupboards, draws etc.
    • White goods | Washing machine, tumble dryer, fridge/freezer etc. If these were provided by the landlord, it’s down to them to fix them if they break. Otherwise it’s all you.

Is everything in a good state of repair?

The tenants might think you’re kinda weird if you go round testing all their appliances, but try and guage through casual, nonchalant conversation – you got this, man, you’re good – whether they’ve have any issues with anything. For example:

    • Are there any signs of pests, like mouse droppings, cracks or holes in the walls? 
    • Are there signs of mould, particularly in damp areas like the kitchen or bathroom? If so, is it being treated?
    • Does the hot water work ok? And the heating? 
      • Look out for double-glazing, which will keep the place much warmer than older style windows. 
      • Ask the tenants their policies on things like heating and water. They might like to save money by wearing a few extra layers instead of turning the heating on; they might also murder you if you have a bath when you could have a shower.

Safety & security

    • Have they ever had any break-ins? Are there sufficient safeguard measures in place, e.g. sturdy locks or perhaps an alarm system?
  • Make sure of fire alarms and, if the property uses gas, that there’s a CO2 detector installed.

If you want to, you can ask after the viewing to see a copy of the property certificates, which include the energy performance certificate (EPC) and gas and electrical safety certificates. That way you can rest assured that you’re not paying more in utility bills than you need to, since the better rating the EPC gives the property, the lower your bills are likely to be.

3. The people

At Ideal Flatmate, we obviously believe this is one of the most important parts. If you’re seeking new flatmates through us, our questionnaire will help you determine some of these details before you commit to any viewings, but best to chat stuff through with them in person too.  

    • First things first. ‘Hey, are you normal, or do you, like, stay in your room and weep the whole time?’  Or perhaps not quite so direct, but certainly gauge the basics: what they do, roughly how old they are, how long they’ve lived there.
    • Did they all know each other originally? Weaselling your way into a tight-knit group of friends can be a daunting idea, but they might be very inclusive. On the other side of things, if they’re a group of strangers, flatmates could be coming and going fairly often, making it more difficult to form relationships.
    • What are they looking for in a new flatmate? Some groups are looking for someone they can really be social with, whereas others might be happy leading more parallel lives.  
    • Do they all cook together? Do they watch TV together? These are the ideal bonding activities, but as we say, best to find out if they want to bond.
    • Do they have lots of parties? One man’s idea of a quiet get-together can be another’s idea of a full-on bender, so best to figure out where everyone’s boundaries lie.
    • It might be helpful to enquire about the morning routine – you could ask what time they all leave in the morning, or if there’s ever qualms over the bathroom.
    • Are they in relationships? There might be significant others that will become quite prominent characters in your life, if they’re round a lot. Similarly, are they ok with you to bring a boyfriend/girlfriend round?
    • How many more people are coming to see the place? Sniff out your competition, so you know how speedy you need to be with your decision.

Have you taken our Compatibility Quiz to find the perfect flatmate for you?

4. Your prospective responsibilities as a new tenant

With common areas like kitchens, gardens and courtyards, it’s worth asking how they organise the maintenance of these and whether the upkeep will cost you any extra money.

Do they have a rota for cleaning/bins etc.? Is there a system in terms of who pays for what?

5. The neighbourhood

    • What are the neighbours like? Are they loud, quiet, a family, young or elderly? Do they have pets? Have the tenants had any run-ins with them?
    • Amenities. Think bank, hospital, supermarket, pub, gym – are they all easily accessible?
    • What’s the area like at night? Would you feel safe walking around alone? (Visit to search for crime maps by postcode and find performance data for your local police force.) If there are bars/clubs nearby, is the noise disturbing?
    • Consider any other factors that might affect your enjoyment of the place. Sewage works, for example, or having truck loads of people swarming the area if you’re near a stadium, tourist spot, festival etc.
    • If you drive, is there space to park? Do you get an allocated space, or do you need a permit from the council?
  • Ease of public transport is also an important factor. Transport connections are something you can research yourself, but if you are viewing a place you’re not sure about, ask whether they have any issues with it.