Move over tuition fees, rent rises are the hottest topic for students

Tuition fees have been fiercely debated in recent years. But rising rents are having just as big an impact on student debt, with the university you choose making a huge difference to how much you owe when you graduate.


There’s been an annual rent rise of up to 10% in some university cities, meaning students are up to £600 a year worse off. However this year students aren’t just battling rising rents, they’re also affected by a private rental market struggling to cope with demand – in parts of London and Edinburgh, 5 people are competing for every room available. Overall this means that where you go to uni can have a huge impact on your housing experience and post graduation debt (no one mentions that at the open day).

For example, the difference between rent for students at Imperial College in London compared to those studying at St. Andrew’s in Scotland is a massive £792 a month. Over a three-year course the difference is eye watering – over £28,500. Even choosing Durham over Oxford could save students more than £7,000 in rent over three years.

Durham students have one of the best chances of finding a student-friendly house share, with 92% of rooms available to students – over 20% more than the national average. Durham is also arguably one of the best cities to be a student as rents in the area have actually decreased over the past year – bet you’re feeling smug now Durham students!

Check out our table below for all the facts, figures and average room rents in 30 of the UK’s top university towns and cities:

Rank University Location Ave monthly room rent Q2 2016 (£) Annual % difference between Q2 2015 & Q2 2016
1 Cambridge Cambridge £541 6%
2 Oxford Oxford £557 10%
3 St Andrews Kirkcaldy £339 3%
4 Surrey Guildford £574 9%
5 Loughborough Loughborough £350 3%
6 Durham Durham £362 -1%
7 Imperial College London SW7 £1,131 4%
8 Lancaster Lancaster £371 5%
9 Warwick Coventry £388 5%
10 Bath Bath £448 2%
11 Exeter Exeter £434 4%
12 London School of Economics London WC2 £1,034 -5%
13 Birmingham Birmingham £405 -2%
14 UCL London WC1 £870 4%
15 Coventry Coventry £388 5%
16 Leeds Leeds £374 6%
17 Southampton Southampton £436 4%
18 City London EC1 £920 2%
19 York York £400 6%
20 Sussex Brighton £511 4%
21 Edinburgh Edinburgh £469 7%
22 Kent Canterbury £418 -1%
22 UEA Norwich £401 7%
24 Nottingham Nottingham £374 4%
25 Glasgow Glasgow £390 4%
26 Heriot-Watt Edinburgh £469 7%
27 Dundee Dundee £323 4%
28 Aston Birmingham £405 -2%
29 SOAS London WC1 £870 4%
30 Manchester Manchester £414 7%


As usual we’d love to hear your stories. Are you struggling with the cost of renting? Did you choose your university based on the cost of housing as much as the course? Let us know in the comments.

Flatsharing heads to the Fringe


We’re excited to announce SpareRoom’s partnership with Rent Girl, a hilarious and brutally honest comedy about the life of a renter, written for this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

Rent Girl is the latest project from actress and writer Maddy Anholt and follows the success of Diary of a Dating Addict, which enjoyed a sell out run at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and transferred to London’s Soho Theatre this year.

Previews start this month and run across the UK throughout July, before the show heads up to Edinburgh for the Fringe.

Here’s what Maddy has to say about Rent Girl:

Hello, my name is Maddy Anholt and I am a rent girl. I’ve been a rent girl for the last ten years in London. I worked out the other day what I’ve spent on rent in London over the last ten years. £136,000. That’s not a typo… £136,000. Pretty vomit-inducing, isn’t it?

The fact is by 2025 only 26% of young adults will be on the housing ladder. That means 74% of us will be rent boys and rent girls by 2025. Rent goes up and up and our salaries stay the same so we don’t have much choice in the matter.

But is it possible to have an enjoyable renting experience? An experience where you could leave food in the cupboards safely knowing it’d be there when you got home? Where you didn’t wake up to your flatmate watching you sleep at the end of your bed? Where you didn’t find questionable hairs in your toothbrush?

It all started in 2009 when I first came to London from a remote countryside town to try and build my empire. I put up an advert looking for work: “Young, fresh girl seeks any part-time work… excellent typing and oral skills”. You can imagine the responses I got.

Rent Girl is Sliding Doors meets Pretty Woman … was I better off taking the job as a children’s entertainer ending up with two broken toes, or should I have sold my underwear for £800 a pop to afford my rent?

Rent Girl previews opened 26th June at The Comedy Room, Camden and run throughout July. For full dates and tickets see: or find Maddy on Twitter @maddy_anholt

Rent Girl will be at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, The Gilded Balloon, 17:30, 3rd – 29th August.

‘Second Liverpool’ found hiding in the spare room


We desperately need another Liverpool.

There’s nothing wrong with the one we’ve got, we just need another. Right now. We also need another every year for the next 25 years. That’s a lot of Liverpools.

But let’s start with why we need one.

There’s a housing crisis. It’s a fact. We need to build 250,000 houses every year, enough for 460,000 people. That’s basically the population of…you guessed it… Liverpool.

We don’t build anywhere near that and we’re not about to. Last time we did was 1979-80.

Even if we could build a new Liverpool every year, where would we put it? Wouldn’t it just be easier if we had a spare Liverpool lying around?

As it happens, we do.

England’s homeowners have 19 million empty rooms between them. If we can persuade just 2.5% to rent them out they’d house 475,000 people. That’s basically the population of…you guessed it… Liverpool.

We could do that right now, with a decent incentive.

And we’ve finally got one.

As of April 6th people can earn £7,500 a year tax-free by renting out a room. It doesn’t just apply to homeowners – tenants can do it too with their landlord’s permission. It took us six and a half years to convince Government but they finally did it. Sounds like a decent incentive doesn’t it?

It’s a proper win-win. Tenants benefit from increased supply of affordable rooms and homeowners get a tax break to encourage them to open their doors.

Now, has anyone got a spare Manchester knocking about?


You can find out more about the Rent a Room Scheme and how it works here.

Scary smoke alarm stats should have tenants & landlords checking their batteries

Are you among the 15% of flatsharers with no smoke alarm at home? Or perhaps you’re with the 7% of sharers guilty of removing the batteries from smoke alarms and not replacing them?

According to a worrying survey we did, only 57% of tenants told us they’re sure there’s a working smoke alarm in their flatshare. You can see the full findings in the table below. Time to check you and your housemates are safe and test that battery.

As of 1 October 2015, a new law kicked in requiring landlords to fit working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties. But a separate poll of landlords by SpareRoom revealed almost half (49%) are not aware of this change in regulation.

Going public with our findings earned us an email and a blog from the Chief Fire Officers Association who described the data as “worrying”.

Stats from the men and women in blue and yellow show that rented properties, flat shares and houses of multiple occupation are among the most at-risk properties when it comes to fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Mark Cashin, Home Safety Lead for the Chief Fire Officers Association, advises: “Tenants who don’t have working smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors should contact their landlord and insist that they be fitted. It’s the law.”

“The law requires that a smoke alarm is fitted on every storey of a property, and that a CO alarm is fitted in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance. It is the duty of landlords to ensure these are fitted and to test them at the beginning of every new tenancy. Houses of multiple occupation are required by law to have hard-wired smoke alarms.”

The table below shows the results of our tenants’ survey, which ran between 1 and 29 October


Do you have a smoke alarm in your house or flatshare? (1,060 responses)



Yes but I don’t know if it’s working


Yes but we’ve taken the batteries out




Don’t know


What’s going on in the rental market right now?

It’s that time of year again – the busiest time for flatshare hunting. There are currently 44,902 rooms available and 53,939 people looking for rooms on SpareRoom right now. When demand is up rents tend to follow suit so we’ve put together a list of average rents in the UK’s 30 biggest towns and cities.


Before you check the list to see what’s happening near you, here are the headlines:

In August, the average room rent across the UK was £591 a month, up from £544 last year, an 8.6% annual increase.

What does this mean at a local level?

At the top of the rental scale was hipster-central East London, with room rents averaging £902 a month. After London, Reading rents were second highest at £528 per month and Brighton third at £491 per month.

At the more affordable end of the scale, you’ll see Sheffield (£343), Cardiff (£342) and Newcastle (£339) per month.

We know demand is up at the moment but just how high is it?

Edinburgh led the way in July with 22 people competing for every room advertised. Glasgow and Salford weren’t far behind at 14 people per room.

Surprisingly, competition for rooms in London, where average room rents were £710 isn’t as fierce at the moment; with seven people competing for each room in the most popular areas.

Here’s the full list:

Town/City Average monthly room rent Number of people competing for every room
London £710 7
Aberdeen £484 3
Brighton £491 7
Edinburgh £466 22
Reading £528 3
Milton Keynes £449 8
Bristol £444 15
Southampton £412 7
Manchester £380 16
Cardiff £342 8
Birmingham £417 10
Portsmouth £395 6
Northampton £387 6
Luton £423 4
Plymouth £368 2
Coventry £371 6
Leeds £351 15
Liverpool £346 5
Newcastle £339 5
Nottingham £356 5
Leicester £341 6
Derby £356 3
Preston £347 1
Sheffield £343 5
Stoke-on-Trent £340 1
Wolverhampton £357 2
Dudley £375 2
Hull £340 1
Bradford £292 4
Belfast £259 9

How does your area compare? Let us know in the comments below.

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.


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.


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 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.

589 2


589 1







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.

589 4

589 3






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.

589 6






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.

568 7





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.