It’s been a couple of weeks since I updated you on Raise the Roof progress. This doesn’t mean things haven’t been progressing nicely though, far from it, it just means we’ve been busy!
The campaign has had some nice coverage in the weekend papers with both The Independent and the Mail on Sunday covering the story. BBC Radio Bristol and BBC Radio Hereford & Gloucester also ran pieces on the campaign, including an interview with SpareRoom’s Matt Hutchinson (that’s me) this morning. The Hereford & Gloucester interview today was in response to a press release in support of the campaign from Paul Keetch MP (whose constituency is Hereford). This is the first public support we’ve had from a member of Parliament which is a positive step. We also had the opportunity last week to meet with representatives of the Department for Communities and Local Government and talk through the campaign.
We’ll keep you updated as we go along but for now please do help spread the word about the campaign and encourage anyone you know to sign the Raise the Roof petition.
We’re excited to announce the start of our partnership with Sarah Beeny’s Tepilo.com. As from yesterday Tepilo’s users can advertise their spare rooms via the site and, once Tepilo’s letting search goes live, will also be able to search for rooms and flatshares.
Rupert Hunt, SpareRoom’s MD, says:
This is a great partnership for us. We’re excited about what Tepilo are doing to bring a fresh approach to the UK housing market and are incredibly proud to have been chosen as their flatshare partner.
We attended a lecture given by Housing minister John Healy last night as part of the New Thinking for Britain’s Next Decade series, run by Labour Progressives. As often seems to be the case with discussions about housing there was plenty of talk about both public and private rented accommodation but nothing about shared accommodation. Luckily there was a short amount of time at the end for questions so I asked the minister why we didn’t hear about shared accommodation as an option and, with this in mind, did he agree with the call to raise the Rent a Room Scheme threshold to help people avoid repossession whilst sending a positive message about shared accommodation as an option.
Mr. Healey replied that one of the things he liked about these meetings was that there was always something he wasn’t expecting to hear about – in this case shared accommodation – and asked for more information. Luckily we were prepared and had a copy of our briefing document for MPs and the Treasury with me (although I had to pursue him down a corridor on his way out to a TV interview to give it to him). We’ll also be emailing him a copy today.
Hopefully this will get our concerns some attention and, at the very least, make the minister aware of the problems as we see them.
Also…a quick note to say we’ve passed the 4,000 signatures mark for our petition to raise the Rent a Room Scheme threshold so thanks to all of you who’ve signed. We’ve never run a campaign like this one before but 4k seems like a healthy figure for the first couple of weeks.
I’ve been away from the office for a few days (mostly without either mobile reception or email access) so it was a pleasant surprise to arrive back this morning and see where we’d got to with the Raise the Roof Campaign.
After our delivery of hundreds of letters and briefing documents to MPs and members of the Lords last week we’re also starting to get responses via email and letter – several people who signed the petition also got in touch to let me know they’d also written to their MP about the campaign so word around Westminster is starting to spread.
If any of you write blogs or use social media such as Twitter and Facebook on a regular basis then it would be great if you could help spread the word – things are really starting to move now so we can’t afford to lose momentum.
Thanks again for all your support to those of you who have signed the petition or been in touch. As always we’ll keep you updated as to the campaign’s progress.
This month’s winner is Claire Lander who lives in Bristol, BS16 to be precise, which means her prize is £338 – worked out by taking SpareRoom’s rental index figure for the average for a double room including bills in the area.
I am a student living in Bristol. I house share with a family (the owners), I’m having a great time but do need to work to help with living expenses, this money will go towards Christmas pressies instead of me having to do extra shifts. Thank you very much, this is fab.
Claire won with one of her 2 loyalty entries (extra free entries she gained by having entered the competition in previous months). For your chance to win next month’s rent go to our Live Rent Free page.
“The Rent-a-Room Scheme was sent up as a way of encouraging home owners to take in lodgers. This is an eminently sensible idea as it not only encourages better use of the national housing stock and minimises the housing shortage, it also provides accommodation for, in particular, students and young singles, and it helps considerably with labour mobility. However, government in their wisdom have failed to see a need to raise the allowance from its 1997 amount of £4250, which in today’s real terms should be considerably more. LandlordZONE fully supports the campaign to increase this now derisory allowance.”
The Raise the Roof Campaign is a week old today so I thought I’d let you know what we’ve done with our first 7 days.
First things first – in the week we’ve been up and running 1,065 of you have signed our petition so a big thanks to everyone who added their name to the list.
We also delivered hundreds of letters and briefing notes to MPs on Monday – we took them to Westminster ourselves as we didn’t want to lose them in the Royal Mail’s backlog, watch the video.
The campaign has started to attract support from people in the housing field including the National Landlords’ Association and Zoopla.co.uk and the word is spreading online with mentions in the last 24 hours on Martin Lewis’s moneysavingexpert.com and property blog The Rat & Mouse. We’ve also spoken to a few journalists in the last couple of days and have our fingers crossed for some newspaper coverage at the weekend.
Thanks to all of you for your support for Raise the Roof – if you haven’t signed the petition yet then head on over to the site and add your name. If you have then why not write to your MP in support of the campaign. If you’ve already done both of these then well done you, take the rest of the week off (but tell everyone you know we need their support!).
In a press release issued today David Salusbury, Chairman of the NLA said:
There is no way of telling just how many potential ‘live-in’ landlords are not letting out their spare rooms because of the hassle-factor of having to complete a self-assessment tax form. Today we are sending a clear message to the Chancellor: a fair deal for those looking to rent a room by increasing the tax-free threshold will help homeowners and the economy. It is a win-win situation that helps both parties and it is about time the exemption reflected the increase in market rents
So, this afternoon we had a whole load of letters to deliver to MPs with info and a briefing note on our Raise the Roof Campaign, which aims to give a fairer deal to homeowners renting out a room. We could have posted them but didn’t want them getting lost in the Royal Mail’s backlog of undelivered post in the aftermath of the strikes so we hopped on the Circle Line and did it ourselves.
We weren’t allowed to film inside the parliamentary buildings so we can’t show you the incredibly exciting moment when the iPod I’d forgotten I had in my pocket set the airport style metal detector off (just imagine that bit for yourselves).
Here’s the rest though….
Don’t forget, just because we wrote to your MP doesn’t mean you don’t have to – sign the petition while you’re at it!
We have a page on the Raise the Roof website asking you to write to your MP – I wrote to mine last week. While this is all well and good we thought it would be a good idea if we also wrote to several MPs ourselves who we thought might be supportive of our campaign. With the postal strikes (hopefully) over now we could just pop them in the post but, as there are quite a few…
(I would upload a photo at this point but WordPress is playing up so see here for a pic)
and there are still huge backlogs of mail sitting in sorting offices around the UK, we thought we’d nip over to Westminster and deliver them ourselves.
We’re up to almost 650 signups to our petition now, not too shabby after 5 days!