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Complete Guide to Renting in Shared Housing: Everything You Need to Know

Understanding shared housing

Shared housing is an increasingly popular lifestyle where multiple individuals live under the same roof while sharing housing expenses. Its advantages are numerous: firstly, it significantly reduces the cost of the rent, bills, and everyday expenses, making housing more affordable. It promotes “camaraderie”, offering social support and a distribution of household chores. Shared housing can be an excellent way to explore new cultures and improve lasting friendships.

The definition of shared housing is multifaceted, with various types to answer to different needs and preferences of each. Among them are:

  • Student housing, which typically brings together students with similar interests and flexible schedules.
  • Senior housing, designed for elderly individuals who want to live together to share leisure activities and mutual assistance.
  • Housing in low-income housing projects aims to make housing affordable for low-income individuals by sharing costs.
  • There are also intergenerational, family-based, or solidarity-based shared housing arrangements, where residents share common values and help each other in various aspects of daily life.

Prerequisites for a successful shared housing experience

To make your shared housing experience a successful one, it’s essential to establish some best practices from the beginning. 

First and foremost, if possible, try to find compatible roommates who share similar values, expectations regarding social interactions, and common rules of living. Open and honest communication is key to laying a solid foundation. It’s crucial to discuss financial responsibilities, household chores, cohabitation rules, and mutual expectations right from the start.

Before diving into shared housing, there are several key steps to follow ensuring everything is set up properly. This includes searching for suitable housing, taking into account the number of needed bedrooms and its location. Then, it’s important to have a detailed shared housing agreement specifying each roommate’s obligations regarding rent, utilities, lease duration, and house rules, if they are attached to the lease. Fairly dividing expenses and household tasks is essential to avoid future conflicts.

Lastly, “ongoing” communication is paramount for a successful shared housing experience. Organizing regular meetings with your roommates is essential to address potential issues and update the cohabitation rules. Yes, roommates can change, and you need to adapt to the lifestyles of each new comer. With meticulous  planning, open communication, and roommates who respect the established agreements, shared housing can be a rewarding and harmonious experience for all participants. We promise!

How to find an apartment for shared housing

To find the ideal apartment for accommodating a shared housing arrangement, there are several strategies to adopt and various points to consider. First, it’s essential to define your collective needs in terms of size, location, budget, and amenities. One roommate may need a larger bedroom with a private bathroom, while others may easily share common living spaces.

Once you all have a clear vision of what you’re looking for, you can begin your search for the dream apartment using various online resources. Many platforms specialized in shared housing are at your disposal, such as:

These platforms allow you to browse a variety of listings to find housing that matches all your criteria.

If you are the person in charge of the housing search, it is also wise to check social media, especially local Facebook groups, or to post ads in which you clearly state your roommate needs: how many vacant rooms are there in the accommodation? Another interesting option is to enlist the services of a real estate agency specialized in shared housing or communal living, which can help you find offers that match your criteria.

Ultimately, the key to finding an apartment for a successful shared housing arrangement lies in careful research, collaboration, solidarity with your future roommates, and the use of online resources to identify the best available options on the market.

How to find roommates?

Finding compatible roommates is no small feat and can be quite a challenge. Fortunately, you’re in the right place to follow our advice on finding your future roommates!

Gather your current roommates and start by clearly defining your expectations for shared housing: lifestyle, schedules, cohabitation rules, personal preferences. Communication is the cornerstone of any successful shared housing arrangement.

Once these criteria are established, use specialized online platforms for roommate searches where you can create a detailed profile describing your personalities, lifestyles, and search standards. Explore social media, interest groups, and forums to meet potential candidates.

As we like to make your life easier, here’s a comparison of some popular specialized websites:

Websites Advantages


Appartager User-friendly interface and advanced features Some listings may be outdated
La Carte des Colocs Networking through social events Fewer options in smaller towns
Le Bon Coin Varied listings across France Varying quality of listings
Whoomies User-friendly,  resembles a dating app Only available as a mobile app

By using these resources, you can maximize your chances of finding compatible roommates who will share a harmonious and pleasant shared housing experience with you and your current roommates.

Legal aspects of shared housing

Each roommate has the responsibility to contribute financially to the expenses. To do this, and if it is not already stated in the lease, clearly define how expenses will be divided, whether it’s for rent, electricity, water, gas, or internet bills. Fair distribution is essential to avoid financial conflicts. It is also essential to respect each person’s right to privacy and the use of common areas to ensure peaceful cohabitation.

Legally speaking, you will only be part of a shared housing arrangement if you have the necessary documents, which are as follows:

  • Roommate Application Form : Some landlords or real estate agencies may require tenants to fill out a roommate application form to assess their eligibility
  • Identification Documents : A copy of the identification documents (ID card, residence permit, etc.) of all tenants is required.
  • Bank Account Information : This is to facilitate rent and utility payments. After all, how else will you pay your share? 😅
  • Proof of Income : Tenants must provide proof of income to ensure they can pay rent and expenses.
  • Guarantor’s Certificate : If one of the tenants cannot provide sufficient income proof, a guarantor may be required. The guarantor’s certificate is a document signed by a third party who guarantees to pay the rent and expenses in case of non-payment.
  • Home Insurance Certificate : If it is not already included in the rent amount, it is essential to have home insurance to protect your belongings in case of a disaster. Proof of signature by each roommate, as well as the name of the landlord or property manager, is required.
  • Shared Housing Agreement : This written agreement specifies the rights and responsibilities of each roommate regarding rent, lease duration, and expenses. Roommates can also create one that outlines rules for household chores and cohabitation, etc. The latter will have no legal value, unlike the former.
  • Lease Agreement : The lease for the housing unit is a legal requirement and should include all roommate names and details (rent, charges, lease duration, and termination rules). Ideally, all roommates should be signatories of the lease.
  • Inventory and Condition Report : This essential but not mandatory document describes the condition of the housing unit and its equipment at the time of move-in to prevent disputes at the end of the shared housing arrangement.

What type of lease for shared housing ?

There are different types of leases for shared housing. The two main options are individual and collective leases. The choice between these two types of leases typically depends on the landlord or property owner’s preferences.

  • Individual Lease : In an individual lease, each roommate signs a separate rental contract with the landlord or real estate agency. This means that each roommate is responsible for their own rent and expenses. The advantages of this option lie in the fact that roommates have an individual financial responsibility, which can prevent conflicts in case one of them fails to make a payment. However, it can also mean that if one roommate leaves prematurely, the others usually have to find someone to replace.
  • Single lease with joint and several liability clause : On the other hand, the single lease with a joint and several liability clause is signed by all roommates as a group. This means that all roommates are collectively responsible for the rent and expenses. This option promotes financial solidarity, but it also implies that if one roommate does not pay their share, the others have to cover the shortfall and pay on their behalf. The collective lease may be more suitable when roommates know each other well and have a trusting relationship, but it can be riskier otherwise.

It is essential to thoroughly discuss the benefits and disadvantages of each option before signing a shared housing lease to ensure that all roommates clearly understand their rights and responsibilities.

Who is covering which costs in shared housing ?

In shared housing, the distribution of expenses, including rent, is typically determined through mutual agreements among roommates. Rent can be divided in various ways, always fairly, based on factors like room size and amenities. For simpler management and fewer headaches, an equal distribution among all roommates is often preferred. Other costs, such as electricity, water, gas, internet bills, and everyday expenses, can also be divided based on individual or shared usage. By the way, we don’t know about you, but some apps have changed our lives in shared housing (and beyond). To help you out a bit, you’ll find an example below of expense distribution in shared housing :



Equal among all roommates Rent, internet
Based on individual consumption Electricity, water, gas
To be discussed and shared fairly Groceries, household products, other expenses

Daily life in shared housing

Living in shared housing is an adventure in itself. To begin, expect a diversity of personalities and lifestyles. Everyone has their own routine, cleaning preferences, cooking habits, and how they use common spaces. Some like to wake up early, while others rather like to sleep in. So, be prepared to communicate openly and make some compromise on certain aspects of your life to maintain harmony. Managing household chores is also an important point. You’ll need to pitch in with tasks like dishes or deep cleaning, and expect others to do the same. There won’t be a designated cleaner. It’s a shared responsibility! Lastly, friendliness and respect for personal boundaries are essential. Moments of “camaraderie” can spontaneously arise, but it’s important to respect everyone’s privacy. Shared housing can be a rewarding experience, provided you approach it with openness, communication, and mutual respect.

How the manage the departure of a roommate ?

Whether dreaded or appreciated, the departure of a roommate is a crucial step in maintaining stability within the shared housing arrangement. When a roommate decides to leave, several precautions must be taken to avoid any inconvenience for the remaining occupants.

It is essential to agree with the terms outlined in the shared housing agreement and to communicate openly with all the remaining roommates. Here is the typical process for a roommate’s departure :

Infographie sur la gestion de départ d'un colocataire en anglais

  1. Notice of Departure: A roommate who wishes to leave must give notice in accordance with the terms of the shared housing agreement, typically 30 days before the departure date. This gives the other roommates time to find a substitute roommate or reorganize their finances.
  2. Finding a new roommate: If the roommates want to keep the accommodation, they can search for a new roommate to replace the departing one. Selection criteria should be clear, and potential candidates should be carefully assessed.
  3. Inventory of fixtures report: An inventory of fixtures report must be conducted to assess the state of the housing and compare it to the initial inventory. Any damage or negligence should be documented to determine the return of the departing roommate’s security deposit.
  4. Amendment to the Shared Housing Agreement: If a new roommate is found, the shared housing agreement can be modified to include the newcomer. The landlord must be informed, and if necessary, an additional clause  to the lease can be signed.
  5. Termination of the Lease: Once all details are settled, the departing roommate can terminate the lease, retrieve  one’s portion of the security deposit (if applicable), and return one’s keys.

Managing the departure of a roommate requires planning, communication, and adherence to the terms of the agreement. By following this organized process, roommates can maintain the stability of their shared housing arrangement while allowing those who are leaving to exit the situation in an orderly manner.

Shared housing and housing assistance

Did you think that it’s impossible to receive housing assistance while living in shared housing? Well, we’re happy to prove you wrong. In fact, while sharing an accommodation can affect the housing assistance you receive, it is still possible to be eligible for it. Typically calculated based on household income, the Housing Assistance (Aides Personnalisées au Logement or APL in french) is the most common form of assistance for shared housing. It is calculated based on each roommate’s share of the rent, depending on their respective incomes. This means that each roommate can potentially qualify for individual APL, based on their financial situation. However, it is essential for each roommate to be listed on the housing lease and that the information provided to the relevant authorities is accurate to avoid any issues. Each roommate will need to submit an individual application!

To accurately determine the housing assistance to which each roommate is entitled, it is recommended to use specific online simulators where you simply need to enter your financial information. The calculation of the potential APL (housing assistance) amount will be automatically done on websites like:

  • : The official website of the Caisse d’Allocations Familiales (CAF) offers a housing assistance simulator that calculates estimates for Aides Personnalisées au Logement (APL), Allocation de Logement Familiale (ALF), and Allocation de Logement Sociale (ALS). You can access it by visiting the CAF website.
  • : The website also provides a housing assistance simulator in partnership with CAF. You can access it on the Service-Public website.
  • L’ : If you are a student, the L’Etudiant website offers a housing assistance simulator specifically designed for students. It takes into account the specificities related to student status.

Prevent and manage difficulties in shared housing

It is crucial to maintain a friendly atmosphere and avoid conflicts in shared housing. One of the keys to success in a shared accommodation lies in communication to prevent and manage difficulties.

We cannot emphasize this enough, but openly discussing expectations, cohabitation rules, and financial responsibilities when moving in is mandatory. You can’t live with other people if you come and go without order. At Colivys, we strongly advise you to hold regular meetings to anticipate and resolve potential issues.

Respecting the privacy of your roommates is a must. Avoid entering each other’s rooms without permission. Also, do not touch personal belongings! But well, you’re not a child, so this should be simple 😄

Lastly, make sure that the distribution of expenses is fair and that each roommate contributes proportionally based on their incomes. You wouldn’t want someone to feel unfairly treated and spark a conflict.

Well, as you can see, communal living is not all roses. So, let’s avoid falling into the following traps to maintain a positive atmosphere with these reminders and points of vigilance:

  • Lack of communication
  • Non-compliance with financial commitments
  • Ignoring agreed-upon rules
  • Neglecting privacy

You now have all the keys to maintain harmony and avoid the difficulties of daily life! But, have we talked about shared housing insurance yet?

Insurance and shared housing

You might not think about it, but it is mandatory for each roommate to subscribe a home insurance for several reasons. First, home insurance protects the personal belongings of each roommate in the event of incidents such as fires, floods, or thefts. This means that if you or one of your roommates suffers a loss of personal belongings due to an unexpected event, you will be compensated for the damages incurred. And that’s good news!

Furthermore, shared housing insurance can also provide liability coverage. This covers unintentional material or bodily harm caused to third parties. For example, if you forgot to turn off the faucet, and water overflowed, causing water damage to your neighbor’s property, your insurance may cover the repair costs, depending on the policy terms.

When comparing home insurance for shared housing, make sure you and your roommates consider the coverage offered, the premium amount, deductibles, additional services, and any other important aspects that meet the specific needs of your shared housing situation. We recommend getting quotes from several insurers and discussing the options with your roommates before making a decision. Having suitable home insurance in shared housing helps protecting your belongings and avoid disputes in case of incident. You’ll thank us later!

If you don’t want to deal with all the things we’ve talked about earlier, why not trying another housing option: coliving!? That’s precisely what Colivys offers. Coliving provides an “all-in-one” approach to communal living, setting it apart from traditional shared housing. Unlike shared accommodation where each roommate must individually manage contracts, bills, and other services, coliving simplifies the entire process. With Colivys, tenants enjoy a fully furnished living environment and an optimal rent! This includes the provision for expenses and, in some cases, additional services such as cleaning.

By choosing coliving, you free yourself from the mental burden associated with managing the practical aspects of communal living. This leaves you with time to focus on what matters: your personal and professional life. It’s an attractive option for those, like you, who are seeking a smoother and more sociable living experience while enjoying the benefits of a shared environment.

In the end, whether it’s shared housing or coliving with companies like Colivys, the choice depends on the needs, preferences, and lifestyle of each individual.

So, what will you choose? Are you interested in coliving?