Tips for a Shared House on Sussex/Surrey/Kent borders

We are a small charity/company limited by guarantee who are buying a 7 bedroom house that was previously used as a home for older people. we have 4 family members who are very keen to live together in this house. Each of the rooms has an en suite bathroom and there are good communal areas, including a kitchen, dining room and bathroom. There is a good sized garden. We hope to have live in staff in a small manager’s flat, but live as one household.It is in the centre of a large village and on bus routes to town.

We would like to hear others experiences and thoughts about setting up a shared house, and hear any tips people have?

Hello, you are entering a minefield that can be navigated with care! My son lived at Bradbury Court near Storrington where 8 young people with PMLD live, run by a charity called Lorica. They each own or rent their accommodation within the converted farm building. Parents were very involved in setting it up. If you are interested I can put you in touch.


This is a difficult one. I have lived (many years ago) in a kibbutz and also in various shared houses/living arrangements - partly out of necessity and partly for what I guess you would call ideological reasons. The experiences varied from very good to excruciatingly awful.

I’m afraid it requires a lot more than just having clear rules and set boundaries. The one thing that, in my experience anyway, makes for a successful share is that the individuals involved must be both tolerant and good-humoured but also able and willing to assert themselves when the occasion arises.

Hope this is helpful.

Dave Wieberg

Hi Bill,
Yes I know it’s a mine field, but I don’t know what I don’t know!
I would be very grateful if you could put me in touch with the eight people in Lorica. An added difficulty is that I’m on a very tight timescale for the exchange and completion.

Thanks for any help,

Thanks Dave yes it is helpful. I will bear it in mind and try to apply your guide to myself.
Best wishes,

Hello Sandy, Howard Kerr is the chairman of BRAD (Bradbury Residents and Deputies) - we are too small to be an official charity, and he is quite happy for me to pass on his email.
He says he is not up to date with all the current legislation on benefits, but we worked together and he is actually very knowlegeable! You could try googling East Clayton Farm or Bradbury Court Washington, not sure how up to date that all is.

Best Regards, Bill Jones

Hi there,

Was following the posts here with interest, as my family is looking to set up something similar in West Berks/South Oxfordshire for my sister. How’s progress?

If anyone knows of anyone in the Reading/Newbury/Oxford area in a similar position, please connect them with me!

Best wishes,


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We have now purchased the house, which has previously been a care home for older people, and is now redundant for this purpose. This means that there are 7 ‘studio flats’ with en suite bathrooms and shared areas for Kitchen, lounge and dining as well as a mature garden and space for live in staff.

We managed to avoid Stamp duty of £43K by registering with HMRC as a small unregistered charity.

We and are now carrying out refurbishment with the hope of first tenants moving into the house in early July.

We are now facing the challenge of negotiating with Housing benefits to cover the rental costs of the house. We have 3 tenants and a live in carer moving into the house on 14th July. The rent cap in our area is £151.50pw per tenant, and we hope to be accepted as ‘exempt accommodation’ as we will commission housing related support and provide support and care (but not personal care). So we think we are ‘supported accommodation’ for housing benefit purposes. We hope to be able to charge a rent of £175 per week to cover the extra costs involved in providing this type of accommodation and support with tenancies. From our research this is the existing average cost of supported accommodation and so reasonable given we are in a high cost housing area.

In addition we would like to cover the costs relating to the communal areas - kitchen, dining room, lounge, laundry and garden with a reasonable ‘service charge’. This will cover heat, light, cleaning, upkeep, lift maintenance, fire safety system etc. We anticipate this will be about £20 (estimated).

Would anyone be able to comment on our proposal, or point to a contact or housing expert who could advise us (we can pay modest fees).

Thanks for any help!


With regard to the employment issues of your live in carer, do you realise that you will have to pay minimum wage for each hour worked. I know that employers used to get away with paying a set fee for a week live in etc, but they can no longer do that. Even the sleep in element is now supposed to be an hourly rate of minimum wage, it as decided in court a few years ago, although some employers are still not doing that and are open to challenge. You then also have the restrictions around number of hour worked per week, although people can opt out (I think)

Your right in saying that you are supported accommodation as this is a ‘supported living’ home, which tenants can claim HB for. We have set up many new houses in work (for LA) by just renting private houses and then offering a license agreement for each room to the tenants with LD. They are then able to claim more than the standard HB because they are in affect paying for not only their room but towards the additional room for the carer. Good Luck. Andrea

Hi Andrea,

thanks very much for your thoughtful reply and sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

Yes, we are aware of the minimum wage issues and we would in any case wish to ensure that staff are properly paid. I have estimated a budget and think that we can cover these costs.

I am really struggling with how best to approach Housing Benefits. I think your solution may be a way forward, but have not idea what a licence agreement for a room in a house would look like. We have ‘studio rooms’ for up to 7 tenants and for 2 live-in staff. I thought a tenancy would be better for residents, as its assured. If we provide housing support we can be recognised as exempt accommodation and go above the cap, but I am not sure if we can pay for that service from direct payments income?

These seem simple questions, but I can’t find any guidance about it. Are you able to help?

If so I would be very grateful.


Hello Alistair, apologies as I have only just picked up this thread again. We had a housing benefit issue which went to court and which we won: essentially the local council was saying that each flat was self-contained and therefore we could only claim the 1 bed LHA rate even though there were 2 carers at night and 1 carer bedroom (so one was awake, one could sleep) between all 8 flats. We argued successfully that the whole building was the residence and therefore all residents could claim the 2 bed LHA rate - in other words the same carer’s bedroom counted as a second bed for all residents. This as you can imagine was very useful. If you want I can get you chapter and verse on the relevant law (in particular HB Regulations 13D paragraphs 2 and 3 interpreted by the DWP in HB/CTB Circular A3/2011)

Cheers, Bill Jones

It is also a huge pity that it is not possible any more to get mortgage funding for our youngsters - my son Tom had a mortgage through me as a Deputy even though he lacked capacity - but that was in the days when Kent Reliance was offering these, funded by Income Support. No longer possible, sadly.
Again I would say contact Howard Kerr for a chat if you can - if you have a problem getting through to him, let me know and I will prompt him!


Thanks Bill, I think your case is likely to be very helpful and so, yes, I would like you to send me the record of the court findings relating to this. In our area a successful submission would mean a rent of £185.81 which is near our target figure. Were you also able to include a service charge and if so can you say what was eligible or not and the amounts considered reasonable?
We are struggling with these issues right now and need an elegant solution. I am taking advice on exempt accommodation, but we are getting into deep waters it seems!

Any help would be very welcome. Thanks very much for your response. Alistair

Bill, as a further follow up - is it too cheeky to ask if you have a
tenancy agreement you would be willing to share with me?

For various reasons i need an interim agreement for tenants very quickly.
If you have something i could work with it would be a great help.

if you are interested in the exempt accommodation route then, in exchange,
i will send you a draft agreement when it is prepared, and in due course
share what i have managed to arrange.

I will understand if you are unable to help with this.

best wishes,


Hello Alistair, yes I can send you a copy of the lease (if you are happy to provide your address, hopefully the moderators can arrange this) but do bear in mind that I am not up to speed with recent legislation. Also with Tom as he had a mortgage and owned (from memory) 60 percent of the flat, the lease was the arrangement for the remaining 40 percent. Bradbury Court is not exempt accommodation because we separated out the housing (with the charity Lorica being the landlord for the proportion of the property not owned) from the care (provided by Southdown Housing).
There was a lot of discussion about service charges, yes they were included but not everything was eligible, the man who knows about this is Howard Kerr, do you still have his contact details?
I can also send a copy of the court decision and the arguments we presented for getting the 2 bed rate which were successful: this depended on showing how important the communal areas were so that even though the flats are nominally self-contained, in reality the dwelling was considered to be Bradbury Court as a whole. It was a tricky argument to make because at the time the ILF were insisting that the flats had to be truly self-contained to guarantee funding: but the ILF is,alas, no more.


I need to speak to someone in work who is off at present. As soon as she is back I will ask her about the license agreements etc. I will check with you once I can access the documents , if you still require them.

Yes, if you don’t mind it will be a great help to us, as we are trying to
work out the best approach that still pays the bills, but does not
compromise on standards.

We now have 3 tenants and 2 support workers in the house and they are all
very happy.

The administrative side is quite complex. So any help is much appreciated.



Hi Bill,

My address is 16, Colchester Vale, Forest Row, East Sussex. RH18 5HJ. We
are happy to cover any costs involved, but would be very grateful to see a
copy of your lease. of course, ours will be different, but I am exploring
the various clauses and what we need to have in and what could possibly be
done with a ‘light touch’.

I would really like to see the court decision and arguments used for the 2
bedroom rate. This is possibly a’creative solution’ to our current
dilemmas, and so it would be very helpful to see these documents.

I am hoping to arrange the housing support as ‘intense housing support’ and
to keep the ‘social care support’ separate. We are adopting a direct
payments financial model and so the social care support could be paid
direct to that provider, whilst the intense housing support would be
commissioned by the landlord. However, when just setting things up this may
prove a bit risky with Housing Benefits and so i am considering whether it
would be prudent to start with the landlord commissioning all support and
then negotiating with housing benefits and adult social care to see if we
can jus commission the ‘intense housing support’. It would be likely that
we would use just one provider for both services.

I think I still have Howard Kerr’s contact details, but to be frank I have
been so busy with just getting the house ready and open, that I have not
had a chance to follow up with him. I noticed that in Universal Credit
Guidance that exempt accommodation is unable to charge a service charge,
but I need to clarify what this might mean. I think it is that we will need
to include communal costs into the rent. This is a bit obscure, but of
course soon we will be all on UC.

Any thoughts, based on your experience, that you have on that suggestion
would be welcome.



No cost Sandy, but if (at your leisure) you could copy the lease and send the original back to me that would be great.(I’ll put my address in the post, as well as Howard’s contact details, in the package with the lease to you)
Just to recap, Bradbury Court was not exempt accommodation because philosophically we wanted to separate housing and care. I think Howard might be able to help on service charges.
Good luck!