TV documentary looking for Flatsharers in London with stories to share

Are you currently living in a nightmare houseshare?

Are you super fussy about who you live with?

Perhaps you’re a serial house hunter moving for the 10th time this year?

Or are you in your 40’s or 50s and finding the flatsharing market challenging?

Sundog pictures are exploring the phenomenon of housesharing – what it’s like to live with strangers and the trials and tribulations of trying to find a room in a saturated rental market.

We’d love to hear from anyone with an extraordinary story – the information you share with us will be strictly confidential and at this stage won’t be used for broadcast. Please note we’re looking for current stories only at this point.

Please contact us for more information – tom@sundogpictures.co.uk or call 020 7602 8163.

Rising costs force couples to put their lives on hold

A new survey carried out by SpareRoom has shown that couples are struggling to be able to afford to rent on their own and are having to put their lives on hold as a result. Because of the rising cost of living, and the difficulty faced in getting onto the housing ladder due to stringent deposit requirements, more and more couples are struggling to rent on their own and save for their future.

SpareRoom’s latest survey has revealed the impact that sharing with flatmates has on couples. Almost half reported that they are putting their life on hold – getting married and having children is not on the agenda. Where you live is perhaps the most important factor in feeling settled enough to take such steps, and the horizon doesn’t look too bright right now.

Because people can’t get mortgages without a huge deposit, they’re forced to rent, increasing demand on the rental sector, which pushes up rents, which in turn makes it more difficult to afford to save, or even to pay the rent. The Money Advice Trust reports today that a record 12,000 tenants who are struggling with rent arrears have contacted them for advice this year.

So it’s not surprising that couples like Kimberley Grant and Matthew Thursfield, as reported in today’s London Evening Standard, have put their wedding plans on hold. The couple, sharing a four-bedroom house in Bromley, are living more economically than if they rented a place of their own. Their rent comes in at £480 a month, inclusive of bills, which is far less than the £750 average they’d need to pay to cover a one-bedroom flat just for the two of them. But even so, they’re struggling to save for their future, and so have yet to set a wedding date, although they got engaged this summer.

With 44% of couples responding to our survey saying that their housing situation is affecting their aspirations to settle down and start families, it seems clear that the housing crisis is making people feel trapped by their circumstances, and having a long term impact on their life-choices.

13% of couples said they don’t think they’ll be able to afford to rent a home on their own, never mind buy their own place, for the foreseeable future.

Flatsharing as a couple comes with a range of additional complications that the single flatmate doesn’t face. Just finding somewhere that will accept couples is tough for starters, without the added strains of trying not to make their housemates feel uncomfortable around them, the lack of opportunities to be alone with each other, and  just finding enough space to store all their stuff in a rented room.

It’s a sad state of affairs indeed. If two people sharing a room in a flatshare can’t save towards their future, what chance do the rest of us have?

It’s a yurt!

SpareRoom-yurt

We’ve had plenty of beautiful rooms on SpareRoom over the past 8 years but nothing quite like this yurt. The weather may be starting to get chilly and wet (hardly perfect camping weather) but never fear, the yurt is

“fully insulated from the rafters to the floor and has been through one harsh winter already, staying warm and dry on the inside. There’s broadband, electricity and a fantastic view of the fields all around.”

Click here to see the full ad (and more photos).

More popular than John Lewis…

We don’t like to blow our own trumpet, at least not too often. But if you’re the kind of person who loves apps, and downloads them regularly for your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, you might have noticed that SpareRoom is currently more popular than John Lewis!

Our iPhone app, free to download, is at no. 45 in the Lifestyle category, 2 places above everyone’s favourite department store. We’re frankly astounded to discover we’re also more popular than B&Q (104) and Harrods (55), though we’ve still got a way to go to get into the top twenty. SpareRoom would have to elbow such giants as Next, TimeOut London and Tesco Clubcard out of the way to get there, but we don’t see why not!  It was amongst those chosen to be featured in the Sunday Times’ App List 2012 – a hand-picked list of the 500 best apps in the world.

The success or failure of an app isn’t all about downloads though. Plenty of people download apps and never use them more than once, if at all. The Top Grossing Apps give a measure of how useful an app is (revealing that people are willing to pay either for the app, or make in-app payments). We’re at no 3 in our category, on this measure. When it comes to being trusted enough for people to pay to use additional features, we’re right up there, it seems.

Recent reviews of the app reveal why it’s popular:

“I heard about SpareRoom on the news, I had a quick look… I liked it, created my details and I started receiving enquiries from first day” – 5 stars
reviewed by TheCedarsHouse 16 Oct 2012

“Fab fab fab fab fab app :)” – 5 stars
by Gemmmmyyyy2222 15 Oct 2012

“A perfect landlord app” – 5 stars
by Night player by day 17 Oct 2012

So, thank you to everyone who downloaded the app and uses it regularly. If you like it, please take a couple of minutes to leave your review on the App Store, so that others may also discover it. Thanks!

Options for social tenants facing the Bedroom Tax

Changes to benefits are coming into force on 1st April 2013, which will affect the housing benefit entitlements of thousands of social tenants up and down the country.

Housing associations and local authorities have started to inform their tenants of the changes and their expected impact, but there is still much to be done to help social tenants make informed decisions about the changes and how to mitigate their impact.

New rules on under-occupancy will mean that people will receive less housing benefit to cover their rent, if they are deemed to be under-occupying their home. The government is seeking to save money and at the same time, encourage those with homes too large for their immediate needs to move to smaller homes, vacating the larger ones for growing families.

The under-occupancy rules will affect an estimated 670 000 households next April, and there are not enough alternative one bedroom properties for under-occupying couples and singles to move to.  In some parts of the country, particularly the North, the impact is likely to be felt more strongly, as a greater proportion of social housing stock is larger, due to fewer restrictions on space.

The average cost for each under-occupying tenant will be £676 per year, based on an expected £14 per week shortfall in housing benefit. When the welfare reform kicks in next year, tenants will face tough choices between paying for the shortfall in their rent through income, or downsizing. An alternative to this tough conundrum is for the tenant to take in a lodger. With their spare room filled in this way, they won’t be deemed to be under-occupying, and they have the capacity to make some additional income, whilst remaining in their own home.

Some local authorities and housing associations are starting to develop strategies to support tenants who wish to consider taking in a lodger. The tax and benefit implications are not straightforward, and it’s vital that social tenants get help to consider the wider implications of having someone unrelated to them living in their home.

SpareRoom has published The Social Tenant’s Guide to Taking in a Lodger, which is available for free download, and is intended to guide individuals through this potential minefield. Housing associations may also use it as part of their efforts to support tenants in their choice of action in response to the Bedroom Tax.

To download the free guide, visit http://www.spareroom.co.uk/bedroomtax

Why it pays to write an interesting ad

Built by the bare hands of Zeus, decorated by DaVinci, and perfumed by the flora of the Garden of Eden, this room availability is a once in a lifetime event.

So begins the best flatshare ad we’ve seen on the site this week. It’s always great to see people being creative with their ads – it gives you a real sense of the personality of the person in question.

For example:

A little bit about me: Having spent a number of years defending Eternia from the evil forces of Skeletor with my fearless friend, Battlecat (I left due to some workplace bullying relating to my bleached blonde bob style haircut and questionable speedo related dress sense), I came to London in 2005 to work in a stupid American bank.

OK, so not everyone will share this guy’s sense of humour but then that’s the way it works with flatshares. You’re not going to get on with everyone you meet but, at least in this case, if you find the ad funny there’s a fair chance you’ll like the flatmate.

The ad ends:

If you’re interested, aren’t going to kill me while I sleep, or look through my underpants drawer, drop me a line to arrange a viewing.

We’ve reproduced the entire ad below – it would be a shame if anyone reading this after the room had gone (which I’m guessing will happen pretty quickly) missed out.

Cheers,

Matt

Built by the bare hands of Zeus, decorated by DaVinci, and perfumed by the flora of the Garden of Eden, this room availability is a once in a lifetime event.

Having housed the likes of Winston Churchill, Einstein, George Best and Kinga from Big Brother, you are looking at a property steeped in history and culture.

If you’re looking for a place to stay with a bed that will make you feel like your back is being kissed by a thousand pocket sprung fairies, you’re looking at the right place.

Located a stone’s throw from Brockwell Park (if you’re Fatima Whitbread), less than a 10min walk or 3 minute sprint (if you’re late for work) from Brixton Station, you have all the amenities and entertainment that South London has to offer on your doorstep:
From the White Horse (30 seconds walk), Brixton Electric (5 min walk), Plan B/o2 Academy/Brixton Village (10 min walk), to Cla’ham High Street (15-20 min walk)…..you will wake up with more hangovers, half eaten kebabs and regrets than a Newcastle Hen Party.

The room for rent is a bright, cosy, very quiet double room, with plenty of storage, French doors and an ornate* fireplace. (*Non-functioning; I’ve tried).

The flat is a two bedroomed conversion in a Victorian property, with a patio garden, which is brilliant for BBQs, and summer drinks. (due to the weather, the BBQ success rate = 13% and summer drinking success = 100%).
The main room is a split kitchen/living area, which, as you can see from the photos, is where Banksy placed some of his definitely original famous stencilled art – don’t believe what the skinny jeaned, pointy shoe’d East London types tell you.
There is a big basement for all your non-Fritzl storage needs (bikes etc).

Bills are shared and come to about £150 a month each.

A little bit about me: Having spent a number of years defending Eternia from the evil forces of Skeletor with my fearless friend, Battlecat (I left due to some workplace bullying relating to my bleached blonde bob style haircut and questionable speedo related dress sense), I came to London in 2005 to work in a stupid American bank and would like a flatmate, who, like me, likes to keep it quiet and civilised from a Sunday night to a Thursday night, either working on my glutes in the gym, or wearing my jim jams in front of the TV (which has Sky Sports).
I keep the flat quite tidy (for a bloke) and have a cleaner who comes round once a week to sort out the hard-to-reach places.
I don’t do the “let’s buy our food and cook together” malarky, partly because I’ll eat all your food, but also because I work in a stupid American bank and have to eat cereal before bed at 10pm, BUT mainly because I’ll eat all your food.

I spend my weekends with friends, eating (half) kebabs, playing golf, watching/playing sport, enjoying the day and nightlife of London, and, save me please…… gardening.

If you’re interested, aren’t going to kill me while I sleep, or look through my underpants drawer, drop me a line to arrange a viewing.