Should women get a discount on rent?

The housing crisis: we’re all in it together, right? Well, sort of. The results of our latest flatshare census show females are worse off than men when it comes to paying the rent.

Here are just a few of the findings:

  • Female flatsharers earn £1,995 less per year than males. In London the salary gap widens to £4,236
  • Female flatsharers spend an average of £276 more per year on rent than males
  • 15% of female sharers spend more than half their salary on rent, compared to 8% of males
  • Of all age groups, women in their 20s in London pay the largest proportion of their salary on rent, with 19% spending over 50%, compared to 10% of males

The census also suggests that male renters are more likely to live in bigger properties and properties without living rooms – both factors that will affect the rent so it’s not as simple as women getting the worst deal. But regardless of our rental choices, it’s 2015; there shouldn’t be a housing crisis and it really shouldn’t be affecting male and female renters to different extents.

What do SpareRoom users have to say?

Charlotte-Gill-circleBlogger, Charlotte Gill, says:

“The statistics are really quite startling, and paint a depressing state of play for femkind – even in a city as progressive as London. Looking at them you could say that women are not only underpaid compared to men, but also less savvy with money. Alternatively they might also indicate that women are more picky when it comes to their accommodation – and prepared to cough up a bit more to be comfortable.

“As a woman I do feel concerned about the quality of housing I will be able to afford in the future – especially as a singleton, as this makes it extra expensive! It seems far more sensible to couple-up if you can, as strategic as that sounds.”

Jamie AndrewsSpareRoom user, Jamie Andrews, says:

“We need to pursue better salary equality.”

Another SpareRoom user, Kathryn Renshaw, says:

“When I was flat sharing I made a choice to rent the more expensive room because it was a safer area and had better facilities. Making that choice is what equality is about.”

What do you think? Are women getting a worse deal when it comes to renting? Tell us in the comments below

 

A Victory in the 2015 Budget

Raise the Roof logo

As most of you who’ve used SpareRoom in the past six years will know, we’ve been campaigning hard to get the chancellor to increase the Rent a Room Scheme tax threshold. We just found out he did just that in the budget, raising it from £4,250 a year to the £7,500 we asked for.

This is great news for renters – especially flatsharers. With around 19 million empty bedrooms in owner-occupied properties in England alone, we’re just not using our housing effectively. As we’re not building in anywhere near the numbers we need to, unlocking some of those rooms will make a big difference.

Here’s how:

  • Encouraging people to rent out their rooms means more supply – that helps keep rents down
  • There’s a huge demand for affordable rentals right now, especially rooms. This addresses that need head on
  • Average rents for people living with the owner are lower than traditional rents – good news for renters on a budget
  • Unlocking just 5% of those empty rooms would house almost a million people, that’s the equivalent of a city the size of Birmingham!

It’s great to see the government addressing the housing crisis with simple, effective measure that will make a difference to hundreds of thousands of people quickly, while they work out the longer term policy changes we need to fix the housing crisis for good.

Thanks to all of you who signed the petition or helped spread the word. We’d also like to thank the people and organisations who’ve supported Raise the Roof publicly over the past six years, including Shelter, Sarah Beeny and Generation Rent.
Great news all round.

Matt

Houseshare fibs: The lies people tell their housemates

Looking for a place to live is usually a stressful experience, especially when you’re trying to find a houseshare with great people – you want them to like you, you want to like them and the house needs to tick a few boxes too. With this kind of pressure, often combined with a looming move date, we wouldn’t judge you if you told the odd white lie to help you secure your dream houseshare.

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We asked SpareRoom users what lies they’ve told their housemates. The most common fibs were about house clutter:

29% of housemates lie about being neat and tidy

28% say their easy going when it comes to clutter when really they aren’t

Some sneaky housemates lie about house etiquette, denying habits like hogging the bathroom or leaving dirty dishes lying around. Beware of the housemate who ‘never take long showers in the morning’ – 11% have lied about this – and watch out for the 11% who claim is wasn’t them who finished the last of the milk.

The sociable housemates tell the odd lie about being party animals with 10% saying they’re considerate when coming home from the pub and 5% saying they never have house parties despite the house being known locally as the go-to after party venue.

Our advice to anyone looking for new housemates is to be yourselves – you’ll have more luck finding like-minded people to live with if you’re open and honest about your lifestyle and hobbies. After all, home is a place you go to relax and be yourself, not the person your housemates want you to be.

What tall stories have you told to secure a flatshare or encourage a potential housemate to move in with you? Was it worth it or did you end up trying to be someone you’re not?

What can you rent for £589 per month?

There’s no denying renting in the UK is expensive, even flatsharing – the most affordable option – is getting pricier by the day. The average room rent for a flatshare in the UK in March was £589, that’s up 11% from £530 a year ago.

With prices rising at this rate, getting value for money becomes even more important. We took a look at the rooms available on SpareRoom.co.uk to see what £589 per month can get you across the UK. Lucky average rent doesn’t have to mean average accommodation – there are plenty of great houseshares out there.

When we looked, 71% of all ads come in at the average UK rent or less. That said, if you’re looking in larger cities, the number of rooms available on budget falls – in London, just one in four rooms comes in under £589. One such room can be found in Wimbledon. For £585 per month, plus bills, you could find yourself in this bright maisonette, complete with original Victorian ceilings and fireplaces.

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It’s a spacious double, with built-in storage, tasteful kitchen and garden (a luxury in London).

Staying in the South East, in Reading you can rent this luxurious double room for £550 per month, including bills.

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You won’t be surprised to hear that your money will go further in Manchester. If you’re happy with a Monday to Friday rental, this place comes in at £580 per month, including bills.

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It’s an old warehouse conversion with original exposed beams and redbrick walls, located in the heart of the Northern Quarter.

In Aberdeen you’ll find plenty of rooms on offer – according to SpareRoom data it’s seen 140% increase in people taking in lodgers in the last two years. With plenty of rooms available, the standard is high – for £585 you can rent a furnished room in this two bedroom flat. It’s not just any room either – you get a walk in wardrobe, ensuite and parking space all included in the package.

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So there you have it, a selection of rooms for £589. Not bad are they? You’d hope so too at more than a quarter of the average salary.

What’s the average room rent in your area? Download SpareRoom’s Rental Index to find out.

 

Is housing important to you?

According to the results of our recent survey, there’s no denying it is.

Here’s what you told us:

98% said that housing is an important political issue
37% said it’s the most important political issue
97% said the Government isn’t doing enough to make housing affordable
93% would be more likely to vote for a political party that prioritises housing

These are pretty powerful percentages. So powerful that spokespeople from each of the UK’s main political parties have agreed to answer your questions on housing ahead of the 2015 General Election.

Housing Election

So what would you like to ask them? Submit your question to find out what each party would do for you.

The Rules of Flatshare: The boyfriend rule

Couple on sofa

Living with a housemate you get on with can be endless fun but what happens when one housemate morphs into two? This is more common than you might think and can completely change the dynamics of the house – sometimes for the best and sometimes…not so much.

It usually starts slowly, they might stay over one night a week, but before you know it your housemate’s other half has full on moved in, often without any thought as to how you might feel about it.

Here’s how we suggest you avoid the ‘one housemate morphing into two’ scenario:

Set the record straight

41% of SpareRoom users say they’d prefer not to live with a couple. Others (11%) said they’d consider it and a third said they’d be happy to live with a couple if there was enough space in the house. With this in mind, it’s only right that you know where you stand from the very beginning.

So, when you’re looking for a new housemate, ask about partners. Drop it into the discussion when you’re getting to know the other person. If they have a partner who will stay over regularly and you’re happy with that arrangement, that’s great but you need to be clear from the outset.

Implement the boyfriend rule

This is something one of our users suggested – we think it’s genius. Simply, your housemate’s partner can stay over as many nights per week as your housemate stays at theirs. This results in a maximum of 3 nights when they’re both at yours (and if that’s the case, you get 3 nights to yourself). Fair’s fair, right?

Talk

If it turns out that your housemate’s partner is overstaying their welcome, talk about it. If you’re concerned about money, could you negotiate that they pay a split of the bills or contribute to the food shop when it’s their turn. If you’re bothered by their cleanliness or tidiness, could you ask your housemate to deal with it? Whatever your bugbear, talk about it.

Have you seen one housemate morph into two? What did you do about it? Did it make the houseshare better? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us your story.

National voter registration day

February 5th is National voter registration day.

EC_infographics_fin HR2

There are just 90 days left until the General Election on the 7th May. You may have already registered or still be deciding whether you’re going to vote. Either way, you’re probably feeling a bit confused about what you’re voting for, especially if you’re one of the 9 million people living in a privately rented home.

None of the main political parties seem to be championing the needs of renters. Yet, when we asked renters if they think housing is an important political issue, 97% said it is. A further 97% said the Government isn’t doing enough to make housing affordable and 93% would be more likely to vote for a political party that prioritises housing.

These are pretty powerful stats but they’re being ignored. Why aren’t renters being represented by politicians?

The issue is, by far the majority of people who vote are homeowners (94% of people who own their home outright are registered to vote compared to 63% of private renters) and politicians make policies for people who vote.

The result of this election could easily be swung by the votes of people who live in the private rented sector – people who make up 18% of the UK’s population – but only if they vote.

The main issue here isn’t whether you’re a renter or not, it’s about registering to vote in the first place. We won’t tell you who to vote for, that’s none of our business, but whether you’re a tenant, a homeowner who takes in lodgers or a landlord, if you don’t register to vote you won’t be able to.

Whether you choose to vote Conservative or Green or whether you choose to spoil your ballot, you’ll need to register to vote. Once you’ve done so, why not check out the housing manifestos for each party to find out who cares about you, whatever your situation.

P.S. – We’ll be interviewing each of the main political parties in the lead up to the election. We want to present your housing questions to them and get some answers. We’ve had a firm commitment from Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister and the Green Party housing spokesperson. We’re also in talks with the other parties. We’ll let you know more over the next few weeks, in the meantime, if you have a question about housing you’d like to put to politicians, feel free to let us know – either in the comments section or via Twitter or Facebook.

How to breakup with your housemates, the best way possible

At the start of January we asked about your 2015 flatshare resolutions. An overwhelming 78% of you said you wanted to move out of your current flatshare this year. Why? Some of you wanted to find a cheaper place, others wanted to find more compatible housemates and a few are hoping to rent solo or get onto the property ladder.

Those who want to get away from their current housemates told us:

“They’re too messy” 

                                             “Their habits drive me insane”

                                                                                                                  “We just don’t get on”

                        “One housemate has turned into two”

It couldn’t be clearer that many of you need to move out, pronto. There really is no time like the present so we’ve compiled some tips to help you with the inevitable; the housemate breakup.

Don’t make it personal
Strip the relationship down to basics and it’s a financial transaction between strangers. Of course it’s way more complex but if you can make it about ending the financial relationship, rather than telling someone you don’t like them, it’ll be much easier.

Show compassion
Be firm about what you need but treat the other person with respect too. If you’ve had a disagreement, try to understand the other person’s perspective. It doesn’t mean you’ll still want to live with them but, chances are, their main aim in life isn’t to wind you up – go easy on them!

Go easy
Remember most people aren’t nightmare housemates – we all behave badly from time to time, especially when we’re under pressure. Try to ease the breakup by setting a realistic move-out date so they have plenty of time to find a replacement housemate.

Don’t do it drunk
Don’t wait ‘til you’re so wound up you can’t think straight and 100% don’t do it by text or, that eternal housemate communication tool, the Post-It note on the fridge.

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Talk
The biggest weapon you have is communication. Most issues can be avoided by simply talking (preferably before your housemate moves in) so you’re both clear on what’s expected. If your expectations are wildly different it’s inevitable one of you will have an issue at some stage.

Keep talking throughout living together. If there are issues, sit down with a drink and chat about them – don’t wait ‘til you’re so angry you can’t even look at each other.

There you have it – our best advice. What would your advice be to anyone needing to break up with their housemates? Have you had a bad housemate breakup? Tell us about it – either in the comment section below or on twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year. Or not…

2015

If you’re like most of us, you’ll be thinking about how you can improve yourself and your lifestyle in 2015. You may want to get fitter, find a new job or perhaps even get on the property ladder. You might also have financial resolutions – to save more or to get rid of debt.

One financial resolution we’ll bet you’re not considering is to pay more rent. Yet one in four landlords plan to raise their rents in 2015. Not the news you were hoping for, is it?

Nevertheless, many of you predicted it. When we asked you what you expect to happen to your rent in 2015 here’s what you said:

37% thought it would go up by more than 3%
13% said up by less than 3%
29% expected it to stay the same
An optimistic 22% thought their rent would go down

In reality, the news isn’t all bad. Over half (55%) of landlords won’t be increasing rents this year and 5% will even lower them.

What worries us though, is the threat that rents could rise by more than 3%. In 2014 average UK room rents rose 8%, from £505 to £546. If rents rise by 8% again next year, that will mean an extra £44 a month.

This is something you’ve told us you simply can’t afford – more than half (56%) of you say you’d be forced to find alternative, cheaper accommodation if your rent went up by up to £40 per month.

So what can you do if your rent does go up?

If your landlord suggests a rent rise that you don’t think is justified or your can’t afford:

Check your contract. If it’s a fixed term contract and the fixed-term isn’t up, the landlord isn’t allowed to increase the rent, unless there’s a clause stating so.

Negotiate. This could be an ideal opportunity to negotiate with your landlord. Perhaps ask for bills to be included in the rent or for property improvements. You can’t lose anything by asking.

Are you expecting your rents to increase? What will you do? Tell us

 

What we’ve learned about housing in 2014… from you

We carry out a lot of surveys every year on SpareRoom.co.uk, ranging from a quick Friday afternoon poll on who does the cleaning in your house, right up to our huge Flatshare Census. Thanks to all of you who took part and took the time to let us know what you think.

Perhaps the most insight you’ve given us is that 97% of you don’t think the Government is doing enough to make housing affordable.

It’s not difficult to see why. Based on the 10,300 responses to our 2014 Flatshare Census:

18% of you don’t EVER expect to buy your own home. A further 18% don’t expect to be able to buy for at least ten years.

22% of you spend more than 50% of your income on rent and 29% consider your rent unaffordable.

We also learned that 21% of flatshares don’t have living rooms and 5% of flatsharers even share a bedroom (with someone other than their partner).

It’s not all been doom and gloom though – you’ve also made us smile. When we asked who you’d rather live with, 63% of you said a flatmate who never speaks rather than one who never shuts up.

We also asked about the cleaning rota. 48% admitted the same person or people end up doing all of the housework and 20% said ‘What’s housework? We have a cleaner’.

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So, a big thank you for all you’ve taught us in 2014. Enjoy the Christmas break and we’ll see you in 2015 (with plenty more questions, of course).