5 things only Generation Rent will understand (as told by a Generation Renter)

Contrary to popular belief, most of Generation Rent aren’t actually spending their days crying into their avo-toast because they can’t afford to buy a house. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to go on about homeowning 24/7, or put gross sofas in our rented flat…

1. The perils of living with disgusting furniture

Wild Saturday night #inbedby9 #wildtimes #partyanimal #carnage #hourstoclean #feelfreshsunday #uglysofa

A post shared by Louise Tremaine ✨ (@louisetremaine) on

Raise a hand if you feel like every flat you’ve ever lived in has come with a side order of uncomfortable springy mattress, scuffed ‘leather’ sofa and plastic indoor dining chairs? Luckily for you there’s all manner of landlord-friendly ways to spruce up your rental nowadays, so go forth and get that mattress topper, peel-off floor tile stickers and ALL of the furniture-hiding throws.

2. Listening to your smug friends brag about homeowning

…because who even cares about Archie and his studio flat (and cat) on a housing estate in (aka near) Gloucester. I’d much rather be flatsharing in Zone 2 and drinking 2-4-1 espresso martinis in hipster bars on work nights. Now that is living.

3. Listening to your parents comment about homeowning

The only thing worse than smug friends is concerned parents who are still convinced you can save enough to buy a semi-detached suburban property by the time you’re 24, as long as you just ‘stop going to the pub’. “But what if you never buy?!” they gasp in horror, as if it’s the end of the world. Spoiler alert: it’s not. A life free from footing your own boiler bills, and being able to move to a different location every 12 months? Spontaneity: 1. Life admin: 0.

4. What it’s really like to live with your besties

You’ve been dreaming about it ever since you watched that one where Monica, Rachel and Phoebe hung out wearing wedding dresses. That sense of freedom! Those special bonding moments! The safe knowledge that someone is always there (with a beer) to console you during the darker days… Living with your besties is a dream come true. Sure, you’ll lose all sense of personal space and there will be times when you kind of wish you could just be in your room by yourself, but who wants to shack up solo in a shoebox-sized flat that cost their life savings when they could split bills three ways, have three times the fun and make life a permanent sleepover instead?

5. The confused sense of dread when a cool new restaurant/bar opens near your place

https://www.instagram.com/p/BXXMob-BUoo/?taken-by=paulheron.foto

It’s the classic internal dilemma: no matter how badly you want to try those maple-glazed chicken wings on buttermilk pancakes with a locally-brewed craft beer, you know they’re only going to taste of gentrification fear. You know, the fear that your rent will skyrocket, and you’ll be bought out of your once undiscovered shabby-chic town by a bunch of graduates with parent-funded rents. The fear that your days in your rough-but-cool flatshare will come to an abrupt end, and it’s all thanks to gentrification. Have faith and search SpareRoom. There’s always an affordable gem in a quirky location…

And then of course there’s the ultimate cure-all: enjoying all the benefits of flatsharing without having to pay any rent whatsoever. No, we’re not messing – our LiveRentFree competitions can actually make this a reality. With both a monthly draw to cover someone’s rent for a month, and a bigger annual competition where we’ll foot one winner’s rental bill for a whole YEAR, there’s plenty of chances to win. Just click below and cross EVERYTHING…

5 storage hacks for really tiny spaces

It’s a well-known truth that no matter how big your room is, how much space your flat has, and how many sets of drawers you buy…you’re probably never going to feel like you have enough storage.

So take this truth and shoehorn it into the ‘just enough space for a double bed’ room you’re hypothetically renting in your current flatshare, and what we’ve got is the space of storage nightmares. Things are spilling out crammed drawers, there’s nowhere to keep your bike, and the Marie Kondo book about decluttering you got for Christmas last year is sitting atop a pile of other junk in the corner, ironically gathering dust.

What the hell do you do? Well, we’re no Marie Kondo but we can help you start to streamline your stuff with a few clever storage hacks to make the most of your space.

1) A case for baskets

Cotton storage basket, £8.99 (H&M)

Otherwise known as the more stylish way to disguise your hoarding problem, pretty storage baskets are the ideal home for ‘useless crap’. You know, things like the payslips you’ve held onto for two years because you don’t know if you’re allowed to get rid of them, and the 18th birthday cards you can’t bring yourself to chuck. These badboys will slot neatly underneath your bed, at the bottom of your wardrobe, or wherever else you can stuff ’em – but that doesn’t mean you have to opt for ugly designs. H&M home has a great range for more than reasonable prices, like the achingly on-trend millennial pink wicker-look basket above.

2) Let’s get trollied

Leila Bar Cart, £200 (Urban Outfitters)

Although largely associated with aeroplane travel, dinner ladies and cheese selections in really fancy restaurants, a well-utilised trolley could actually be your shared kitchen’s best friend. Use it to store anything and everything, from your Tupperware and crockery collections to non-perishable goods you can’t squeeze into your cupboard (looking at you, spice collection). Or if you’re going for a more #chic vibe, pop it in your bedroom and use it for your artfully arranged bric a brac, plants, beauty products, or alcoholic spirits. We’re in LOVE with this Urban Outfitters beauty, but if you’re not sure you want to spare £200 there’s a range of more affordable options at Argos waiting to be carted around. Stuff on wheels = endless fun, btw.

3) We’re hooked

Wooden Over the Door Hook, £10 (Dunelm)

This is a true story: when I moved to uni and into my first ever rented room (which actually was the size of a double bed), over the door hooks saved my life. The true extent of my coat collection made for a difficult battle with my tiny ‘double’ wardrobe, and once I’d finally stopped sobbing at the potential prospect of actually having to throw some clothes away, I made a beeline for Wilko to find some storage solutions. £5 later, I staggered home with a (sinfully ugly) four-hook hanger, and the rest is history. Now I’ve got a bigger budget, I’d be more likely to invest in something aesthetically pleasing like these wooden Dunelm hooks, and let my coats live in the luxury they deserve.

4) Get drawer-ganised

Höfta drawer dividers, £1.50 (Ikea)

Your drawers are just over a quid away from a lifetime of organisation, and it’s all thanks to Ikea: king of storage solutions. These handy dividers can be cut to fit and slot together easily to suit your drawer-dividing needs. It’s literally the PERFECT way to separate underwear from belts, vests from tees, sunglasses from purses… the list goes on. The next challenge: remembering which section you’ve stored everything in.

5) Feel the tension

(Pinterest)

And for the grand finalé of genius storage hacks, we give you tension rods. Install a few of these into every spare nook and cranny and let the magic happen. Curtain hanging aside, tension rods have got SO many uses: hang shoes on them for a makeshift shoe rack (above), use them to create mini shelves in your kitchen cupboards (perfect for small spices and bottles), install them across windows to hang herb baskets off… Just search ‘tension rods’ in Pinterest if you’re after some inspo. Invest in your first rod for as little as £2.50 from Wilko and embark on your new life of blissful landlord-friendly storage. As well as the sheer novelty of having your entire shoe collection as wall art.

Whether it’s a big space, small space or just any space you’re after – you can find that perfect flatshare on SpareRoom. With over 90,000 rooms and flatmates on offer, there’s a LOT of bedrooms waiting for tension rods…

How to find a houseshare in a hurry

Picking the right room and housemates is a big decision. In an ideal world you’d take your time before making the call.

However, sometimes you have to relocate pretty fast – usually for a new job. Sometimes employers expect you to be ready to work in a matter of days…so how do you find the perfect houseshare without panicking about the looming deadline?

We know this can all feel daunting, especially if you haven’t gone through the process before. Even the most chilled out person can become sweaty-palmed at the thought of finding a new place to live in a short amount of time. Sure, you’re desperate to find a base, but you also want to make sure you’re living with the right people in somewhere that feels like home. What if your new housemates don’t appreciate your Game of Thrones addiction? What if they only leave their room for a takeaway delivery?

And breathe. Finding the right houseshare in a rush isn’t actually mission impossible, and with a bit of insider knowledge it can be a breeze. So how do you get started?

Create a ‘room wanted’ ad

Need a room? Looking through search results and contacting advertisers is one way to do it, but setting up a ‘room wanted’ ad can make the process even faster. It’s really easy to do – just add a photo and a few lines about yourself, and watch potential housemates come flooding to you with rooms to offer. Don’t just take our word for it though – 53% of users said they wouldn’t reply to someone who contacted them without a ‘room wanted’ ad or profile. That’s a LOT of missed contacts. Set yours up here.

Go to a SpeedFlatmating event

Next up, book your place at a SpeedFlatmating event. We hold these every week in London (Angel, Clapham, Shoreditch, Covent Garden) and Manchester. You’ll meet loads of potential housemates offering rooms in one night, saving precious time – and you’ll be in a relaxed, social and safe setting.

The events have a mix of people – people looking for a room (like you), those searching for a new housemate to join them and those who want to find group of people to start a brand new tenancy with, called ‘Buddy up’ (click here to find out more).

So if you’re looking in Manchester or London check out one of our upcoming events and reserve your spot here.

Seize the chance to LiveRentFree

And then there’s the ULTIMATE way to ease your rental woes: not having to pay rent at all. Imagine going rent free for a month (or year!) – that blissful easy living, with a wad of cash to spend on whatever you like… Sounds like the dream, right? Well we can make it happen for you with our LiveRentFree competitions.

There’s a draw EVERY month (to cover one winner’s rent for a month) and a bigger annual competition that pays one winner’s rent for a whole year!

As you can see, there’s plenty you can do to find the right place in a short amount of time, so don’t panic! However if you have any other questions please head over to our website or get in touch with our Customer Service team who’ll be be happy to help.

8 things you NEED to know before you rent

If you’re about to rent for the first time there are a few things that might trip you up and a couple of misconceptions people have, especially about sharing. Thankfully, we’ve been there (and been tripped up by them ourselves) so can pass on some nuggets of hard-earned wisdom.

Here are our top tips.

1) 1 month’s rent and 4 weeks’ rent are not the same thing

This one catches pretty much everyone out at some point, yet it’s obvious once you know. Here’s how it works.

Let’s say your weekly rent is £150. If you multiply it by 4 you get £600. So that’s a month’s rent, right? Wrong.

There are 52 weeks in a year (£150 x 52 = £7,800)

…and there are 12 months in a year (£7,800 / 12 = £650)

…so there’s a £50 difference. Still with us? Good – that’s £600 extra a year (or an extra month’s rent based on the original dodgy calculation).

2) And your rent won’t necessarily include bills

Again, it might seem obvious…but if the advert doesn’t state that your rent price will include bills, don’t make any assumptions.

Generally moving into a flatshare with existing renters means you get to sidestep all of those boring admin tasks, like setting up bills and working out the monthly amount everyone owes – so you should be able to take over the lease and chip in what’s needed every month to cover the gas, electricity and water. Make sure you ask about average monthly bill costs when viewing the property, if this info wasn’t included in the room ad.

But if you’re taking on a new property in a group you’ll probably be fully responsible for setting up all the bills accounts. Soz. Although a tedious task, it’s worth shopping around various suppliers to get the best deal and keep the costs down for everyone in your flatshare. Sites like moneysupermarket and comparethemarket can do the job for you in a few clicks.

3) Not all flatshares have a living room

Yep, you read that right. When we asked over 10,000 flatsharers whether their property had a living room, we discovered that one in four of them don’t.

Now, that may be because the landlord turned the living room into a bedroom to squeeze more rent out of the property, or it might mean the tenants chose to use the living room as another bedroom so they pay less rent each.

Either way, don’t just presume. If you don’t see one, ask.

4) You don’t need to have a ready-made group of friends to share with

In fact, when we asked flatsharers who made the best flatmates, the most popular answer was ‘someone you don’t already know’. Living with friends can be great, but it can also be a real pain. Adding the burden of sorting out bills and arguing over whose turn it is to clean the toilet to your friendship might just push it over the edge.

As they say, live with a stranger and you might gain a friend, live with a friend and you might lose one*.

*OK, we don’t know who they are (or if they actually say this), but it’s true.

5) You don’t have to sign a 12 month lease

People new to renting tend to think you have to sign up for a year to move in somewhere. It’s true that 12 months is still the most common lease length, but there are other options. The majority of rooms you’ll see advertised in London, for example, are advertised by the existing tenants – often replacing someone who’s moving out. If there’s less than 12 months to go on their lease, then you’re not committing to a full year.

Even if you do sign for a year, most leases have a 6 month break clause in them.

6) And you might need to butter a parent up to act as a guarantor for you

If this is the first time you’ve EVER rented before, your landlord/agent will naturally be a little wary and will probably require some references so they can make sure you are who you say you are, you’re in a position to pay the rent every month, and you’re going to be a respectful and pleasant tenant (i.e. you’re not going to trash their property, or hold all-night neighbour-disturbing raves etc…).

If you’ve already started working life, the HR team at your work can sort a reference out for you. But if you’re just going into your first employment after graduation, your landlord might want a little more reassurance – and that’s where guarantors come in.

So what is it? Essentially, a guarantor is someone who will cover the cost of your rent if you fail to do so in any given month (i.e. you’re jobless and just don’t have the money). This gives your landlord an extra layer of reassurance that they’re going to get your rent for the duration of your tenancy, even if you can’t personally pay it. Generally a parent or close family member is the best person for the job, so ask them nicely because it’s a lot of money. And it goes without saying that regardless of having a guarantor in place, you should still be able to pay your own rent every month anyway.

7) You won’t get your deposit back till after you’ve moved out…

It might feel like a long time till you’re moving again – largely because you haven’t even found your first place yet! But when you hand over your deposit, it’s worth knowing you probably won’t get it back in time to use as the deposit for your next flat.

It’s one of the things that winds people up most about renting, but it’s a fact of life so be prepared and have a back-up plan for your next deposit.

8) …and there are some things you can do to make sure you get the full amount

There’s nothing more soul destroying than moving out of a property and losing half of your deposit in the process – usually because your landlord might charge you for leaving the property in a worse condition than when you moved in (broken furniture, marks on walls etc).

Don’t panic, though, because there are things you can do at the start of the tenancy to avoid getting saddled with hefty charges when you leave. Take photos before you’ve all moved your stuff in, so you have an accurate record of exactly what condition the property was in when you took it on – these might come in handy at the end of your tenancy if your landlord flags any damage. That said, your landlord shouldn’t charge you for anything that is considered to be reasonable wear and tear. It’s totally unrealistic to expect a tenant to keep EVERYTHING in pristine condition when they have to live in a property for a long period of time, after all!

Make sure everyone in your flatshare pays their rent on time every month too. It might sound obvious, but if one of your flatmates doesn’t pay their rent and you’re in a shared tenancy agreement, this amount could be docked from your deposit when you leave.

Now you’ve got the basic info you need, how about finding that flatshare? With over 90,000 room and flatmate ads on SpareRoom, there’s bound to be one that suits you.