1,000,000 is the magic number

Earlier this year we celebrated 3 things:

  1. The 5th birthday of SpareRoom.co.uk
  2. The 10th birthday of www.intoLondon.com
  3. SpareRoom’s millionth registered user

This morning I got an email from Jim, from our northern HQ, to inform me we’ve just had our millionth advert placed as well.

I feel a cake may be making an appearance in the office sometime this afternoon!

Matt

A SpareRoom wedding!

There’s nothing quite so smile inducing as someone telling you that the great flatmate they found on your site turned out to be their soulmate too! While we don’t offer this as a service on the site it comes as a lovely surprise (as it did last summer when we heard of our first SpareRoom wedding).

That’s exactly what happened earlier this week when Helen Potter got in touch to say:

Hi! Just wanted to let you know that I placed an ad on spareroom.co.uk last AUGUST (2008), and was looking for a room to rent in Canterbury, Kent. A guy called John responded to my ad, and I moved in with him September 2008. AND,… we’re now GETTING MARRIED next May!! So ‘thank you’ spareroom.co.uk!!

Clearly we needed to know more so we emailed Helen for the full story:

I moved in with John September 1st 2008. We went to Barcelona for a long weekend I think, two weeks after I moved in, in fact! It all happened so quickly really…. but – without meaning to sound terribly cheesy – it just felt right! Just after Christmas we took another holiday to Canada, skiing at Tremblant. And that’s where John proposed! At the foot of Tremblant, in the freeeezing cold, surrounded by snow! It was perfect.    Several months on now, and wedding plans are in full swing! The date is set and we’re getting married at Winters Barns in Canterbury.  We’re still living at the same house in Canterbury but looking to move after we’re married

Congratulations guys, we’re thrilled…as is John (I think…)

ENG.3

Anyone else meet their partner/spouse/boyfriend/ex through a flatshare?

Matt

Live rent free winner – the boys are catching up

We have another competition winner to announce – Fraser C.

Fraser lives in BN20 so wins £300.31, which is the average rent for a double room including bills in the area, according to SpareRoom’s Room Rental Index.

Fraser’s win makes it 4-2 to the girls after 5 months’ rent and one year’s rent given away. For your chance to win a month’s rent head to our Live Rent Free page.

Matt

Hoo wants to live on a houseboat?

Every now and then we get rooms on houseboats advertised on the site, I love them.

They always make me think that I could live on a boat, but I know I’m probably far too dependent on my little luxuries and home comforts. I have a good friend who lives on a boat on the Thames and it does sound amazing but it always sounds more amazing in the summer than in winter.

This one, in Hoo (which is near Rochester in case you didn’t know – I didn’t),  appeared on the site recently though and I must say it’s got me feeling all nautical…

houseboat

…won’t last mind.

Matt

How to rent a room part 2

OK, so, in the first part of out guide on renting out a room in your home we looked at basic preparation – who you should inform before you take anybody in. This time we’ll look at the room itself and the property. The 3 main issues we’ll look at are:

  • preparing the room
  • preparing the property
  • setting your rent

The room

Furnished or not

One thing we need to make clear at the outset is if you’re renting out a room under the Rent a Room Scheme, it must be furnished. That doesn’t really need any explanation does it? Unfurnished rooms don’t qualify under the scheme – simple as that. You’ll also need to de-clutter the room as nobody will want to rent your room if you’ll be wandering in every time you need something you’ve stored on top of their wardrobe or under the bed. It’s a good idea to de-clutter before you show people round rather than saying ‘oh yeah, all this will be gone before you move in’ as it’ll help make the room look bigger if it’s empty apart from furniture.

Single or double?

If at all possible it’s a good idea to put a double bed in the room as most people prefer a double to a single. If the room is small thought it might be best to stick with a single as you’ll need to leave enough room around it for someone to get in and out. You may find if you rent to a student that they’d prefer a single and a desk as they’ll most likely have work to do in the room. Whether you advertise as a single or a double can be open to debate (especially if the room is somewhere in between) but we’ll come on to that in a later post.

The property

Kitchens and bathrooms

In a recent interview we did with Sarah Beeny she gave the following advice to anyone looking to take in a lodger:

I think the most important thing is to make sure your kitchen and bathroom are really clean because there’s nothing more grim than someone else’s dirt in the kitchen or bathroom!

Gas checks and safety

You need to make sure that your gas appliances are maintained and in good order. You must have them checked annually by someone who is registered with the Gas Safe Register. Fire regulations only apply if the property isn’t your main residence. You should fit smoke alarms as a matter of common sense and make sure you test them regularly.

Setting your rent

It’s always a good idea to check the market in your area to see what a room is worth before setting your rent. There’s no point in either pricing yourself too far above or too far below other rooms.

The two main ways of doing this are:

  1. Check your local area on SpareRoom.co.uk to see what other people are charging. Just type your postcode into the search box and see what else there is nearby. This will also help when it comes to writing your ad later on as you can get a sense of which ads you’d be most likely to respond to if you were looking for a room
  2. Download the latest Room Rental Index and see what the averages are in your area. Obviously there will be rooms well above and below the averages but the index, especially the postcode level one, should give you an idea of where to start and also an indication of how strong demand is likely to be. Don’t forget, the averages in the index are for double rooms including bills

In the next posts we’ll look at sorting out a contract, taking a deposit, agreeing terms before your lodger moves in and how to advertise your room.

Matt

The SpareRoom Rental Index

As from today we’re making the SpareRoom.co.uk Rental Index available to download free of charge for our registered users – previously the index has only been made available to journalists.

Whether you have a large portfolio of properties or just need to know how much to charge for your spare room, the index is a valuable set of info on room prices across the UK.

There are 2 Indexes for you to view and download (free of charge – you’ll just need to log in or create a free account if you’re not an existing user). The first is a snapshot of the UK listed by post town and the second goes into more detail, both in terms of geographical location and data.

What does the index cover?

The index covers average rents for a room in the area listed (either post town or postcode). This is the average (mean) rent for a double room including bills.

Note – The figures in the index are averages across the previous 3 month period (ie. September’s index contains averages for June-August).

Other information covered includes:

  • Quarterly change – The % change in rent over the past 3 months
  • Demand index – Takes the average number of views per advert in each area and gives higher ratings to areas with the highest number of views per advert. A good indication of how much demand there is for rooms in an area – the longer the bar the higher the demand
  • Median rent – This is the typical rent you’ll see in the area, worked out by taking the exact middle point of the range of adverts in that postcode (in contrast to the mean weekly rent which takes the total amount of rent charged in the area and divides by the number of rooms). This is displayed according to whether the room in question was priced per week or per month (see below)
  • Median pw/pcm – Useful in busier areas as it gives an indication of whether rooms are likely to be advertised by the week or month in that area
  • Min/max pw – The lowest and highest rents charged in the area over the past 3 months

We’ll be making the index available every month from now on.

Download the latest index

Matt

Landlords and lodgers wanted for a new TV show

We’ve been contacted to help find participants for a new TV series that’s entering production. Here’s the info:

Hi,

I’m producing a TV show about being a landlady or landlord who has decided to invite a lodger to live-in with you in your own home. We want to look at the pros and cons of having a lodger, but also of being a lodger.

Choosing anyone to live with is a big decision and we think it will be really interesting to watch the whole process from both sides. We need someone who is open-minded, who would like to be on television and would like to make some extra money (on top of the rental amount), someone who would like to work with us to make an entertaining tv programme.
If this sounds like you, please call 07747 035461 or send an email to info@luminoustv.co.uk

You can call to find out more without making any commitment whatsoever to take part in the show.

It would be really helpful if you include your SpareRoom ad reference number (if you have one) in the email Subject line – your number appears near the top of your ad, below the headline.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I look forward to talking with you about what we hope will be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

Regards

Cillian de Buitléar

How to rent a room part 1

A couple of months ago we looked at the Rent a Room Scheme and how it allows you to earn up to £4,250 a year tax free by renting out a spare room in your house. Clearly we could all do with an extra £4,250 a year but it’s not as simple as placing an ad for your room and taking the first person who comes along. Here’s the first part of our guide to taking in a lodger to help you through the process and make sure you’ve thought of everything in advance.

The first rule of taking in a lodger is:

Preparation, preparation, preparation

Letting someone into your home is a totally different kettle of fish to renting out a buy to let property. There are several reasons for this but there’s one that stands out way ahead of all the others:

It’s your home and you’ll have to live with them.

This makes you more vulnerable than the traditional landlord who doesn’t live with his or her tenants. Luckily the law recognises this and makes certain provisions for live in landlords (as we’ll see in future parts of this guide). That’s why it’s more important than ever to do your homework before you even think about advertising your room. We’ll look at how to place and advert (and where) later on but, before you get anywhere near advertising, there are a few things you need to do to help get the process off to a smooth start.

Don’t forget, the more you prepare in advance the better you stand a chance of avoiding nasty surprises further down the line.

First things first – what you should check before you do anything else

  1. Check with your mortgage lender, landlord or local authority to make sure it’s OK for you to take in a lodger. The Rent a Room Scheme isn’t restricted just to homeowners but there may be restrictions in your contract (this is less likely if you own the property, and the freehold, but it’s worth checking).
  2. Give your insurance provider a call. Some insurance companies are funny about contents insurance if you take in a lodger (especially if you don’t tell them in advance) so ask them if it will affect your cover. If it does you can always check if someone else will cover you; even if the premiums are higher you’ll be gaining in rent so it’s worth investigating.
  3. If you receive benefits you should contact your benefits office as it’s likely your benefits will be affected by taking in a lodger.
  4. Let the council know if you claim a single occupancy discount on your council tax. You won’t be eligible if you take in a lodger (unless they’re a full-time student) but you can charge an amount towards the difference in the rent or as part of the bills.

OK, that’s the preliminaries dealt with. In the next post we’ll look at preparing the room itself and working out how much you can charge for it.

Cheers

Matt