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.

The Rules of Flatshare: The boyfriend rule

Couple on sofa

Living with a housemate you get on with can be endless fun but what happens when one housemate morphs into two? This is more common than you might think and can completely change the dynamics of the house – sometimes for the best and sometimes…not so much.

It usually starts slowly, they might stay over one night a week, but before you know it your housemate’s other half has full on moved in, often without any thought as to how you might feel about it.

Here’s how we suggest you avoid the ‘one housemate morphing into two’ scenario:

Set the record straight

41% of SpareRoom users say they’d prefer not to live with a couple. Others (11%) said they’d consider it and a third said they’d be happy to live with a couple if there was enough space in the house. With this in mind, it’s only right that you know where you stand from the very beginning.

So, when you’re looking for a new housemate, ask about partners. Drop it into the discussion when you’re getting to know the other person. If they have a partner who will stay over regularly and you’re happy with that arrangement, that’s great but you need to be clear from the outset.

Implement the boyfriend rule

This is something one of our users suggested – we think it’s genius. Simply, your housemate’s partner can stay over as many nights per week as your housemate stays at theirs. This results in a maximum of 3 nights when they’re both at yours (and if that’s the case, you get 3 nights to yourself). Fair’s fair, right?

Talk

If it turns out that your housemate’s partner is overstaying their welcome, talk about it. If you’re concerned about money, could you negotiate that they pay a split of the bills or contribute to the food shop when it’s their turn. If you’re bothered by their cleanliness or tidiness, could you ask your housemate to deal with it? Whatever your bugbear, talk about it.

Have you seen one housemate morph into two? What did you do about it? Did it make the houseshare better? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us your story.

National voter registration day

February 5th is National voter registration day.

EC_infographics_fin HR2

There are just 90 days left until the General Election on the 7th May. You may have already registered or still be deciding whether you’re going to vote. Either way, you’re probably feeling a bit confused about what you’re voting for, especially if you’re one of the 9 million people living in a privately rented home.

None of the main political parties seem to be championing the needs of renters. Yet, when we asked renters if they think housing is an important political issue, 97% said it is. A further 97% said the Government isn’t doing enough to make housing affordable and 93% would be more likely to vote for a political party that prioritises housing.

These are pretty powerful stats but they’re being ignored. Why aren’t renters being represented by politicians?

The issue is, by far the majority of people who vote are homeowners (94% of people who own their home outright are registered to vote compared to 63% of private renters) and politicians make policies for people who vote.

The result of this election could easily be swung by the votes of people who live in the private rented sector – people who make up 18% of the UK’s population – but only if they vote.

The main issue here isn’t whether you’re a renter or not, it’s about registering to vote in the first place. We won’t tell you who to vote for, that’s none of our business, but whether you’re a tenant, a homeowner who takes in lodgers or a landlord, if you don’t register to vote you won’t be able to.

Whether you choose to vote Conservative or Green or whether you choose to spoil your ballot, you’ll need to register to vote. Once you’ve done so, why not check out the housing manifestos for each party to find out who cares about you, whatever your situation.

P.S. – We’ll be interviewing each of the main political parties in the lead up to the election. We want to present your housing questions to them and get some answers. We’ve had a firm commitment from Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister and the Green Party housing spokesperson. We’re also in talks with the other parties. We’ll let you know more over the next few weeks, in the meantime, if you have a question about housing you’d like to put to politicians, feel free to let us know – either in the comments section or via Twitter or Facebook.