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.


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…


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, 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’.


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).

‘Tis the season to be merry


It’s nearly Christmas, which means your diary is ready to burst – drinks dates with your friends, your friends’ friends and dinner dates with every relative in your extended family, including your long lost aunt Maud. Then there’s the annual office Christmas party, your pre-Christmas celebrations with housemates and suddenly it’s time to head home for festivities with the family.

With all this festive fun, you’re not thinking about a house move. This is why we’ve put SpeedFlatmating on hold for the rest of the month. We’ll be back to business as usual from the 6th January so book your place today. Until then, enjoy the merriment and have an eggnog for us. See you in the New Year!



The crazy things we do to raise money for Shelter – part II

We promised to keep you posted on the personal challenges we’re taking on board, in order to show our commitment to the Homes for Good campaign, and raise money for our chosen charity, Shelter.

Last year we told you about our indefatigable Head of Marketing, Sam, who raised over £1000 for charity by strapping herself onto a tiny board, attaching herself to a large kite in a howling gale, and setting off into the English Channel as part of the inaugural Virgin Kitesurfing Armada. More on that story here.

In September we found out that Sam and her team of intrepid kitesurfers had had their World Record snaffled from under their noses by a cheeky bunch of kitesurfers in Spain, so there was nothing else for it, and the Armada was reconvened off the South Coast in early October, with the aim of regaining the title (and raising more money for charity).

Despite an eerie stillness in the air (and a lack of wind in the forecast) over 360 watersports enthusiasts turned up just after dawn on Saturday 11th October, eager to make history by participating in the world’s largest parade of kitesurfers. If only the wind would play ball, it would be quite a sight. A rainbow appeared over the beach as they registered – was it a fortuitous sign?


As the morning progressed without the slightest breath of wind, the crowd became restless, worried that the attempt might have to be abandoned. At noon the announcement went out that they should don their wetsuits and assemble their kite equipment on the beach ready for launch at 1pm. Incredulously, everyone got ready, but by 2pm there was still not a breath. Lewis Crathern, the professional kitesurfer headlining the event was keen to encourage optimism, interviewing participants live on the beach, broadcast over speakers to the throng, asking if they believed the wind would come.

kites on beach

Impatient watersports enthusiasts took a dip in the calm sea, after baking in the unseasonal October heat, or took to paddleboards to patrol the bay casually in anticipation. Then suddenly, the wind got up and it was go go go. Near chaos ensued as every eager participant was keen to get out on the water as soon as possible before the light wind dropped. Suddenly fifty, a hundred and then two hundred kites were in the air – a magnificent sight.

kites on water

Sam got caught up in the confusion, another kiter had set up his kite over hers and she was unable to launch at the same time as her buddies. They were far off on the horizon by the time she set off, and tried not to worry they wouldn’t be around if she got into difficulty. But the windwhipped seas and huge waves of last year were nowhere to be seen. This time the sea was calm, and the biggest challenge was working the kite so that it gave a consistent pull without dropping out of the sky and into the water. The was just enough power in her kite to take her safely into the mile zone and past the safety boats. Before she knew it, she was powering past camera crews in the boats, and past the final mile marker! After a couple of tacks Sam emerged with the board on her feet and a smile on her face onto the finish beach – she’d done it. A quick coach ride back to the start and a wait to find out if the effort had been enough to be world beating.

Each participant is given a unique tracker, and the Guinness judges were on the beach to ensure that the rules were being properly followed. But although 362 kites launched, the Spanish record of 352 kiters was not beaten, as several participants didn’t manage to make it through the mile, victims of that light wind. Missing out on a world record by just 8 kiters, the crowd’s jubilant enthusiasm could not be broken – they had done their best, and in fact broken last year’s record by a hefty margin – it was a new UK record!


Sam’s raised just under her £500 target for this year – you can help boost her total in aid of three amazing charities – Shelter, RNLI and Snowcamp. Find out more about her commitment to the challenge here.

Renting out a spare room – Azaria’s story

Azaria shares her experience of renting out a spare room in her home in Swansea, South Wales.


“I’m happy to say that taking in a lodger has been a huge success for me. I was a 24-year old graduate working in marketing when I bought my first property (lucky, I know). It’s a two bed flat in the town centre and I advertised the room on SpareRoom. Within a few days I had quite a few responses to choose between, and arranged two viewings the following Saturday.

One of the viewers decided within a few hours that she’d like to move in with me – she’s a 31 year old Mexican who’d been living in Manchester and needed to be in Swansea for work. We get along brilliantly – she’s lovely, quiet, polite, funny and clean. We don’t see each other all that often, we’re both busy people with activities that keep us out of the flat on different nights of the week.

My boyfriend moved in with us in January. If anything he’s more of a pain in the butt than having a lodger – if he could be as clean and considerate as she is, we’d never argue again!

So I’ve gone from living by myself to living in a happy busy household of three adults, and it all works out just fine because we’re considerate and respect each other’s space. I’d recommend a lodger to anyone who’d otherwise be living by themselves – even if you’re not in constant conversation, sometimes it’s just nice to have that extra person for company, and of course the financial side doesn’t hurt either!”

Azaria benefits from room rents in Swansea averaging around £350 per month, which means that all of her rental income is tax free, thanks to the Rent a Room Scheme.

If you’d like to make your spare room work for you, post a free room ad now, and start getting enquiries.
Place a free ad

Or, to find out more about your tax free rental allowance under the Rent a Room Scheme, download your free guide.

Renting out a spare room – Tilda’s story

Tilda shares her experience of renting out a spare room in her home in Wood Green, North London.

Tilda on the right, with her flatmate (or lodger) Gemma
Tilda on the right, with her flatmate (and new-found best friend) Gemma

“I have a two-bedroomed flat in Wood Green, and whilst I could have covered the mortgage on my own, I knew things would be a lot easier with the income from a lodger. So I advertised the room on SpareRoom and got lots of replies. Gemma was one of the first to call up, and when we spoke on the phone, there was just something about her – I knew immediately we would hit it off. She was the first to view the room and I called her to let her know it was hers, but made her wait for the news, as I’m a big fan of dramatic pauses.

I’m no great shakes in the kitchen, so Gemma does most of the cooking when we’re in together. She’s practically banned me from the kitchen, but that’s no great loss as she’s a much better cook than I am. Her food is amazing!

Now Gemma’s really become part of the family. My brother got us both into boxing training, but Gemma laughs at me because I can’t punch. And my mother, who lives across the way, has been known to hang out with Gemma in the garden, the two of them chatting away and drinking wine until late.  I get a lot more than just the rent out of this relationship. I wouldn’t have met my best friend, if I hadn’t rented out my spare room.”

Tilda benefits from room rents in North London averaging around £680 per month, which means that nearly half of her rental income is tax free, thanks to the Rent a Room Scheme.

If you’d like to make your spare room work for you, post a free room ad now, and start getting enquiries.

Place a free ad

Or, to find out more about your tax free rental allowance under the Rent a Room Scheme, download your free guide.

Tenants Struggle As Rents Rise Faster Than Incomes, Squeezing Accomodation Budgets


Since 2009, UK rents have risen by 10% while tenants’ accommodation budgets have fallen by 0.5%

London room rents have soared by more than a quarter (26%) in the past five years – more than twice as fast as budgets, which have increased by just 10%

In Scotland, flatsharers’ budgets have plummeted by more than a fifth (22%) since 2009, while rents have increased by almost a quarter (24%)

Average earnings are only rising by 1.7% per year1 yet average rents are rising by 5% annually


Thursday 21 August 2014 – Affordable accommodation in the private rental sector is becoming ever more scarce, according to new data from flat and house share website, which compares the maximum tenants can afford to spend on accommodation to average room rents.

SpareRoom’s data reveals that averageUK rents have risen by 10% since 2009 but – in the same five-year period – tenants’ budgets haven’t risen at all. In fact, they’ve fallen by 0.5%, as renters struggle with historically low wage growth and the often high cost of living.

In London, where room rents have soared by more than a quarter (26%) in the past five years, budgets have increased by a mere 10%. And in Scotland, where rents have increased by 24%, budgets have plummeted a staggering 22%.

Northern Ireland has seen the slowest rental increases over the past five years (10%), yet tenants’ budgets for accommodation have dropped 5%.

The table below shows the change in monthly rents between 2009 and 2014:

  Ave Rent 2009 (£) Ave Rent 2014 (£) Rental Increase %
London & suburbs £549 £691 25.8%
East Anglia £345 £398 15.4%
East Midlands £314 £353 12.6%
North England £304 £334 9.8%
North West England £316 £359 13.8%
South East England £390 £449 15.2%
South West England £347 £394 13.7%
West Midlands £334 £366 9.7%
Yorkshire & Humberside £312 £347 11.3%
Northern Ireland £238 £260 9.5%
Scotland £325 £403 24.2%
Wales £302 £332 9.9%
UK £500 £550 10%


The table below shows the change in tenants’ monthly budgets between 2009 and 2014:

  Ave Budget 2009 (£) Ave Budget 2014 (£) % Change In Budget
London & suburbs £574 £633 10.4
East Anglia £410 £433 5.7
East Midlands £363 £369 1.5
North England £361 £379 4.9
North West England £385 £402 4.5
South East England £445 £463 4
South West England £414 £421 1.8
West Midlands £392 £392 0.2
Yorkshire & Humberside £457 £381 -16.5
Northern Ireland £306 £290 -5.2
Scotland £536 £420 -21.8
Wales £340 £372 9.2
UK £415 £413 -0.5


Over the past year, Scotland and London have become the least affordable. Rents in Scotland have risen by 9.9% in the past 12 months, twice as fast as budgets (5.1%). In London, rents have increased by 5.1% while budgets have only increased by 3%. Based on the last 12 months, Wales is the most affordable – as budget increases, at 4%, are more than twice rent rises (1.7%).

According to the ONS, average weekly earning are rising by a meagre 1.7% per year, yet average rents rose by 5% between 2013 and 2014.

The average monthly UK room rent is currently £550 – almost a third (31%) of the average take home pay of a full-time employee2.

Matt Hutchinson, director of, comments: “What’s clear is that affordable rents are becoming ever more scarce. Many people are still struggling with the cost of living and this isn’t being helped by the fact that wage growth is the lowest since records began.

“The problem is we have a chronic shortage of housing in the areas where jobs are being created, so rents continue to rise as supply fails to meet demand. In some areas of the capital we’re seeing up to 13 people compete for every room advertised.

“The only obvious short-term solution is to encourage more homeowners to let their spare bedrooms and create supply. To do that, the Rent A Room Scheme tax-free threshold needs to be raised to act as a proper incentive. It hasn’t been increased since 1997 and rents have risen by 103% in that time. Not only will this benefit renters, it could stop thousands of homeowners slipping into arrears when interest rates finally rise.”

SpareRoom is currently campaigning for the Rent A Room Scheme threshold, which hasn’t been changed since 1997, to be raised to £7,500 per annum. To find out more, please visit:

Where in the landlord lifecycle are you?

Overlooking something as simple as proper landlord insurance or protecting the tenant’s deposit could mean you face penalty fines or even break the law.

Being a landlord is not easy; there are plenty of laws that govern the private-rented sector and the consequences of not knowing, or understanding them can be disastrous.

Help is at hand from deposit protection experts, mydeposits with a free Landlord Lifecycle ebook.

It explains renting, and how to get it right before, during and at the end of the tenancy, covering key topics:
• Preparing and marketing your property
• Carrying out an inventory and tenant checks
• Getting the right insurance
• Protecting the deposit
• Successfully managing your property
• Dealing with end of tenancy issues

Supported by experienced landlords…
Experienced landlord and contributor to the guide, Richard Blanco says, “I’ve been a landlord for 11 years and have heard countless stories from new landlords who’ve been caught out for not understanding their obligations, what to do or when to do it, so I’ve helped write the Landlord Lifecycle video to pass on my experiences, help others avoid the potential pitfalls and ensure a happy tenancy for all.”

Download your free Landlord Lifecycle ebook here.

This article was contributed by myDeposits.

Answering the call for Housing

This week a couple of SpareRoom staff visited the Shelter helpline, which is run out of an office in central Sheffield. We weren’t sure what to expect, but thought it might be a good idea to find out what they do here – particularly since this year we’ve committed to fundraising £75,000 to support the helpline. What we discovered was inspiring and disturbing in equal measures.

Shelter Helpline Staff

Shelter Helpline Staff

Inspiring team

The room was abuzz with people facing monitors and speaking into headsets – just what you’d expect from a typical call centre. What struck us though, was the professionalism and care with which the team approached their work. Unfazed by the sometimes emotional subject matter of the calls, they had boundless calm and a seriously impressive knowledge base to call upon. In a very unshowy way, they matter-of-factly took their clients through acts of parliament and county court applications as if they were as every day as supermarket shopping or ordering a pizza.

I sat next to Dan* and listened open-mouthed as he carefully listed the options that the caller should explore to get resolution to their housing plight, without referring to notes or aides-memoire, finishing by wishing the client well and hoping it is all resolved quickly. Even if the person on the phone had been in tears or angry, you got the impression he’d have dealt with them in exactly the same composed manner, which resulted in a hearty thank you and a big sigh of relief on the end of the line.

Disturbing issues

Over the course of an hour or so I was privileged to hear how Dan responded to the cases that came through. There was huge variety between the issues that were raised, some more complex than others. By chance, all the callers I heard were female, and I was saddened to hear many of them were suffering from domestic abuse. This had triggered their need to move out of home, and resulted in some alarmingly difficult housing situations for these women and their families.

Debbie* needed advice on how to move into a new home, when she didn’t have the means to scrabble together a deposit. Her daughter was doing GCSEs and had self-harmed in the past. She was pregnant and had no partner.

Quoting the Children Act, Dan advised Debbie on how to access help from Social Services to get temporary accommodation for her and her children, and how to search for grants or access credit unions that could help her with the deposit she needs to find stable accommodation in the private rented sector.

Astrid* from Nottinghamshire was living in a refuge with her kids after suffering domestic violence. She had been in secure social housing but had to move out and needed to know what her options were next. Dan showed his incredible knowledge on everything from domestic abuse to credit issues, all of which have an impact on homelessness and housing issues.

Vivian* from Northumberland called about a dispute with her landlord and letting agency, who were trying to charge her rent for a house she’d served notice on, moved out of, and handed the keys back for months ago. Worried she’d never get her deposit back, as well as being charged £450 a month for the rest of the year for a place she was no longer living in, she couldn’t afford legal advice and had turned to Shelter for urgent help. She ended the call confident that she had the facts on her side and knew what to do next. In fact the agent and landlord had overplayed their hand. Their lack of attention to detail meant she could claim up to 3 times the deposit amount. It might not need to come to that, and she was sure she’d be able to get an amicable resolution, thanks to Shelter’s advice.

Jean* from London had a complicated question that involved domestic abuse and manipulation by her former partner, young children in school, and issues around secure tenancies and the private rented sector. Being unaware of her rights and responsibilities until now, she had got herself into a tricky situation where she could potentially become homeless. Dan consulted his supervisor on this one, as it was a very complicated mix of issues, before calmly explaining the pros and cons of each of her options, and leaving her to mull it over.

“What are the most important qualities a Shelter helpline advisor should have?” I asked him. “Patience and empathy are so important, not just having the information at your fingertips. Staying calm even if the caller is in distress,” he replied.

What was clear to me after listening to a number of these calls is how crucial it is that Shelter can offer clear impartial advice to anyone in housing need. Whether it’s someone facing eviction immediately, or struggling to get a fair solution from their landlord or agent, Shelter can help put them on the right track. There’s also a Helpline Plus team that can take on complex cases and take them through to their legal conclusion. All the work is funded by individual donors and corporate fundraising. The helpline is open seven days a week, 365 days a year, weekdays until 8pm and weekends until 5pm.

Andrea, the Helpline Operations Manager told us how they recruit for aptitude and attitude – the team members don’t have a legal background or in depth knowledge of housing before they start. “It’s such a fulfilling job,” she says, “they really feel good about what they do”. They take 3 months to train before they even answer a phone. Last year they responded to 112,563 calls for help, up from 85,000 the previous year. But they’re only able to respond to 60% of calls and need to recruit, train and pay for more staff to fulfill demand for the service. The average call length is 23 minutes, during which time the advisor diagnoses the problem, and gives advice or next steps, referring the caller to a Shelter solicitor if necessary.

If there’s one message the Shelter helpline team wish they could get across to everyone, it’s “Know your housing rights”. Whether you’re a homeowner, a tenant, a lodger or a landlord, you never know when you may need them. You can always find out more about your housing rights and responsibilities on the SpareRoom and Shelter websites.

Can you spare £1 to help keep the helpline open, to allow Dan or his colleagues to spend a minute on a call to someone facing serious housing issues? Please donate to our HomesForGood campaign. Every penny goes to the Shelter helpline.

* All of the names in this piece have been changed to protect the identity and privacy of those involved.