Raise the roof responses

After sending out thousands of emails at the start of the week to update everyone on the progress of Raise the Roof your responses have been pouring in. Thanks to everyone who took the time to sign the petition, write to their MP or just email us to let us know we had your support.

Amongst the responses we’re getting are several from homeowners worried about interest rates rising in the coming months and years and how this will affect their repayments when they’re already pushed financially. Many are now looking into renting out a room but are put off by the limit on tax free earning. For these people (and there will be thousands out there) the opportunity to charge a fair market rate for their room as an incentive to take in a lodger is paramount. Without a fair incentive we’re shutting off a vital supply of affordable, good quality rented accommodation.

The biggest argument we hear against the raise is that it will encourage homeowners to charge more for their rooms than they should be. This is unlikely for one main reason – if homeowners put prices up then renters will simply opt for cheaper rooms in shared houses instead. We’re not suggesting anyone should charge an unfair amount for their room and the market will prevent that from happening anyway (don’t forget, the market for shared accommodation is a huge one in the UK, it’s not just a few people taking in lodgers!).

Thanks again for all the support we’ve had and to all the people who don’t agree but took the time to tell us why. If we believe that what we’re doing is right we should be prepared to take all views on board.



Raise the Roof moves into 2010

As Westminster slowed down for Christmas, so too did the Raise the Roof Campaign. I’m happy to announce that we’re picking up speed again and we have a few things to report.

Firstly, we’re still getting letters and emails from MPs in response to the letters we sent in November. Many of these are encouraging whilst a few are more hesitant to support anything that involves increasing a tax threshold in the current economic climate. With responses from all three main political parties, Treasury, HMRC and DCLG we’re confident the message is starting to get heard in the right places.

Following an informative and productive meeting with DCLG we did some polling (at their suggestion) to gauge the likelihood of an increased threshold for the Rent a Room Scheme leading to an increase in the supply of rooms becoming available. We asked:

Would you be more likely to rent out your spare room if filling out a tax return wasn’t an issue?

87% of those who responded said yes with just 13% saying no, a clear indicator that those who see no real evidence that an increased threshold would have the desired effect need to think again.

The next stage for the campaign is to get a supportive MP to table an Early Day Motion (EDM) so we can demonstrate the level of parliamentary support the campaign has. We’re in the process of discussing this now and will hopefully have more news in the next week or two.

That’s it for now. If you haven’t signed the petition yet there’s still time and more letters to MPs will only add to the level of awareness. In an election year any issue MPs see as important to their constituents is seen as worth investigating by them (especially in marginal seats where a few hundred votes could make the difference).

Cheers (and Happy New Year)


Final rental index of 2009 ready for download

December’s average room rents are now available for you to download on SpareRoom’s rental index page. For those of you who haven’t had a look at the index figures before they provide a snapshot of what a room is worth all over the UK. Figures are given by post town and, in a separate pdf, by postcode for a little extra detail. Info includes:

  • average weekly rent
  • change over the past quarter
  • demand index (calculated by the average number of views each ad gets)

Here’s a quick look at what’s going on in the December index.

Biggest rent gains

  1. Dorchester
  2. Swansea
  3. Telford
  4. Hull
  5. Stoke-On-Trent
  6. East Central London
  7. Halifax
  8. Blackburn
  9. Shrewsbury
  10. Peterborough

Biggest losses

  1. West Central London
  2. Durham
  3. Carlisle
  4. Sunderland
  5. Kirkcaldy
  6. Belfast
  7. Dudley
  8. Liverpool
  9. Cardiff
  10. Preston

It’s interesting to note that the losses list contains one of the most expensive places to rent a room in the UK (West Central London which has an average of £145 per week, second only to East Central London at a whopping £166 weekly average) and the cheapest (Belfast at £60 per week, a full £10 behind Sunderland in second place).

The lowest demand for rooms is currently in the following areas

  1. Wolverhampton
  2. Cleveland
  3. Dumfries
  4. Kilmarnock
  5. Paisley
  6. Swansea
  7. Wakefield
  8. Walsall
  9. Belfast
  10. Blackburn

and highest demand

  1. West Central London
  2. East Central London
  3. West London
  4. East London
  5. North London
  6. North West London
  7. South West London
  8. South East London
  9. St. Albans
  10. Cambridge

By treating London as one town the highest demands can be found in

  1. London
  2. St. Albans
  3. Cambridge
  4. Watford
  5. Glasgow
  6. Edinburgh
  7. Harrogate
  8. Aberdeen
  9. Durham
  10. Manchester

For a complete explanation of how the index works, and to download the figures themselves, check out SpareRoom’s room rental index page



More Live Rent Free winners to announce

We have two more winners to announce in our ongoing Live Rent Free competition.

Our first winner of 2010 is Claire Parker. Claire’s prize, based on the average monthly rent for a double room in her area (NE1), according to the SpareRoom Rental Index, is £398.66 – a cheque is winging it’s way through the snow as we speak (well, as I type this anyway).

Judging by this Claire is celebrating already!

Congratulations also go to Graham Jones, our December winner. Graham lives in S2 so wins £301.28, which is the average rent for a double room including bills in his area. Graham’s prize takes the total we gave away in 2009 to £9,779.26!

Well done guys. Don’t forget, for your chance to win a month’s rent, and fill the hole in your bank account caused by Christmas, enter now!



The big New Year move begins

January is always a busy month here at SpareRoom HQ. Not only do plenty of people decide it’s time to move we get the usual rush of people taking in lodgers having reviewed their post-Christmas finances. Looks like it’s not just us – Rightmove announced this morning (via Twitter) that yesterday was the site’s busiest day ever with 22.8m page impressions (for those of you who don’t know about these things that is a LOT of page impressions!).

We had some nice press coverage over the festive period too with pieces in The Express (who chose a nice, juicy controversial quote from us to highlight!), The Mail (front page story), ThisisMoney.co.uk and MoneyMagpie to name but a few. Makes for a good start to the year!

We hope 2010 proves to be a good year for all of you as well.