How to find the perfect flatmate in five steps

Finding the ideal flatmate can be a tricky task. Moving in with good friends can feel like an easy option that helps you bypass the awkwardness and potential risks of living with people you don’t know. But the added pressures that come with sharing a flat can be enough to drive even best friends apart for good, revealing less flattering traits in each other that are difficult to address and discuss.

The benefit of living with strangers, however, is that you’re both starting from scratch – and have to work together to find the best ways to get along with each other. This creates a more dynamic, fluid relationship as you’re not as emotionally involved from the offset. Which could also be why 59% of SpareRoom users we asked decided that strangers (or friends of friends) make better flatmates than current friends…

We got psychologist Donna Dawson to share her top tips, and help you find that ideal flatmate you haven’t even met yet…

1. Presentation is key

…and we’re not just talking about sprucing yourself up for that all-important first meeting.

“If you’re looking for a flatmate, this goes right back to the ad itself,” says Donna. “How does it look, and how much information are you giving people – not just about the physical accommodation, but about what kind of person you’re looking for too?”

If you’ve got a spare room in your flat to fill, think about how you’re presenting the place too – keeping it clean and tidy will go a long way. “How you take care of yourself and your space will give clues as to how you would look after your shared home.”

Need some inspiration? We’ve already got you covered. Create beautiful, landlord-friendly interiors with these decorating hacks, or try our storage ideas for tiny spaces.

2. Consider lifestyle values too

You might naturally warm to someone just because you’ve got a lot in common, but a mutual love of Breaking Bad and a shared interest in craft beer doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a great fit as flatmates. The most important thing are their lifestyle values, and how these would work in a flatshare with you.

“You need to consider if they place the same importance as you do on things like keeping the flat tidy, and being respectful of each other’s space. Make sure they’re considerate and fair as a flatmate,” says Donna.

But how can you find this information out without sounding creepy? Read on…

3. Question time

Asking the right questions when meeting potential flatmates is key. Go for open-ended questions (requiring more than just a yes/no answer), as they will reveal more about the other person’s personality traits. Donna suggests asking about their last flatsharing experience as a starting point: “Start questions with ‘How would you feel about…’ to gauge their thoughts about things like leaving dirty dishes in the sink. You’ll get them to reveal more about their attitude and preferences.”

Think about asking practical questions too – like what their working hours are and when they get home at night, so you can get a good idea of how your lifestyles and routines will gel on a day-to-day basis.

4. Body language

Your potential flatmate’s body language during questioning can give real clues of how they’re feeling, and what they’re really like as a person… “Running a finger along their nose or chin, avoiding eye contact, stammering, changing the speed or pitch of their chatter, fidgeting, or laughing too much can all be signs that a person is lying,” Donna says. Although nerves can account for a lot, so she recommends just trusting your gut instinct.

Interviewing someone to fill your spare room? Think about your body language too. “Aim for a direct and smiling gaze, with open body language,” says Donna, “and don’t hesitate when answering questions!”

5. The all-important feedback

So you’ve found the flatmate for you. Congrats! But that doesn’t mean your work is over…

It’s now really important to put some effort into making the flatmate relationship work for you. “Try to arrange a weekly catch up over a coffee or drink so you can see how things are going, and flag up any issues with each other,” says Donna. “You should try and be honest in your replies to prevent any resentment or stress building up, and stop small problems ballooning into much bigger ones!”

After a month or so you can probably stop having these chats, but you should make sure your new flatmate feels comfortable enough to approach you at any time with potential concerns – so you can create a healthy and harmonious living situation.

Now you’ve got all the interview tips, how about finding that perfect flatmate or share? With over 80,000 rooms and flatmates on SpareRoom, there’s a good chance one of them will be right for you…

5 home buys for a fiver to help you get snug this autumn

Remember that time roughly 12 months ago, when everyone suddenly went bananas for ‘hygge’? Hint: it’s a Danish word that roughly summarises the pursuit of everyday happiness and wellbeing, achieved via small, cosy indulgences.

Hygge might not be such a big deal anymore (probably because most people have now rightly realised they don’t need a Danish word to justify their treat yo’ self tendencies), but there’s certainly no denying that a bit of glow is SO needed right now – as we roll into autumn and its undeniable crappiness, coldness and urges to be wrapped in a giant duvet ALL THE TIME.

So with this in mind, we’ve found five buys for £5 or under to help you beat the blusteriness outside, and bring a bit of warmth back into your life (and flatshare).

1. Snuggle city, population: you

…because it’s not really autumn until you’ve bought ANOTHER blanket, is it? Never mind the five you’ve already got on your bed (and yes, you will use them all at once) – you DESERVE the snuggliness. This fleecy beauty from Matalan comes in at £5, and features neutral grey and cream tones that will suit any sofa/bed/armchair/body. Oh, and it’s machine washable too. So no need to worry about those inevitable hot chocolate spills…

2. Get lit

In our flatshares, the only thing that’s getting ‘lit’ during these cold nights is candles – and frankly we couldn’t be happier about it all. There’s nothing quite like a good Netflix boxset and a gently flickering flame to get you feeling warm and toasty – especially ones that emit delicious autumnal scents. This bargain £4.50 Wax Lyrical tinned candle promises to release a “tangy orange fragrance with notes of sweet citrus lemon, mandarin and grapefruit” for as long as 16 hours. Who are we to argue with that fresh Mediterranean scent?

3. What a mug

Yeah we know, technically the contents of the mug are what give it its cosy credentials. But there ain’t no luxurious Belgian hot chocolate without a suitable vessel to drink it from, so we choose this M&S stag-printed fine china mug. It’s got a generous capacity, an ergonomic handle, and it’s only a fiver. Fill it with your hot liquid of choice and cradle it like a warm, snuggly newborn baby.

4. Twinkle, twinkle

JUST LOOK AT THEM. Pretty, twinkly and enough to immediately conjure up the fuzzy, heart-warming nostalgia of the festive period… you can’t beat a good set of fairy lights – the best way to transform any space into a cosy grotto. These Tesco Direct ones are £4.99, include 20 lights and are on a flexible wire that’s great for wrapping, shaping, stuffing and stringing however you see fit. We like them stuffed in an empty mason or jam jar for #Pinterest points, but they’re equally as cute hung from picture rails, arranged on the dining table (for all those autumnal dinner parties, obvs), or wrapped around the stair banister.

5. Easy as pie

Is there ANYTHING more “hug for the stomach” than a gigantic plate of steamy homemade pie? The answer is NO. Unleash your inner Mary Berry with the help of this stylish enamel pie dish – an Amazon steal at £3.49. It’s big enough to make a 20cm pie, so your flatmates can happily get a slice of the action too. Just mind those soggy bottoms…

Of course, there shall be no cosiness this autumn without the perfect flat to get snug in. With over 80,000 rooms and flatmates on SpareRoom, there’s bound to be one that’s ‘hygge’ enough for you…

How to spot a dodgy landlord (and what to do about them)

Now, we know you know what to look out for aesthetically when you’re hunting for your new home.  Mouldy bathrooms, shabby paintwork, broken fittings and dodgy appliances are all rental red flags that you’ll usually be looking out for when viewing – and they’re all things you should mention before paying a deposit or signing a tenancy agreement.

But what if it’s the property’s landlord that causes the problems?

Don’t get us wrong – there are plenty of great landlords out there who want your tenancy to be as smooth and enjoyable as you do, and they hate the dodgy ones as much as tenants do. But bad landlords do exist, and unfortunately they’re a bit trickier to spot than a bit of mould…and can cause you a LOT of hassle and expense.

Here are a few warning signs to look out for whether you’re searching for a home, or living in a home governed by a potentially dodgy landlord…

1. The property looks shabby

Sounds obvious, but if a landlord doesn’t take care to make their property look comfortable and inviting, the chances are they don’t care. A good landlord will be proud of their property, so will likely be willing to give it a lick of paint before new tenants move in, and will make sure that all fixtures, fittings and any furniture are up to scratch. As a tenant, remember you’re obligated to flag anything up that you’re not happy with, and negotiate with the landlord to get any necessary repairs made – and more importantly, get them written into the tenancy agreement.

2) Deposit dramas

Let’s face it, deposits are an expensive investment. And like any other investment, you want to make sure it’s going to the right place and will be looked after properly. Be wary of any landlord that pressures you into paying your deposit before you’ve even seen the tenancy agreement, and equally be concerned if they don’t ask for one at all.

Make sure you check that the landlord is using a secure account or scheme to hold your money, so that it’s protected exclusively to return to you at the end of your tenancy. Some common ones in England and Wales include the Tenancy Deposit Scheme and the Deposit Protection Service. Regulations state that landlords must tell you which scheme they have used to protect your deposit within 30 days of receiving it, or they face being fined up to three times the amount of the deposit.

3. Read between the lines

Your tenancy agreement is the most important and essential document when it comes to renting a new property. If a landlord can’t (or won’t) give you a copy of it to read over, it’s question time. There also should be no pressure to sign the agreement right away – you need time to read every clause thoroughly, and ensure that there is nothing in the agreement you’re not happy with or that could trip you up later on. Yep, it’s long and kinda boring, but it’s a legal document and could cost you a fortune if you’re not careful – so get reading.

Make sure that your tenancy agreement definitely includes the following: the length of the tenancy, amount of rent to pay and when, details of the deposit, and your landlord’s address.

The inventory is your next most crucial document to obtain. This will detail everything that comes in the property (including furniture) and what condition it, and the property itself were in when you moved into the property – giving you plenty of evidence if the landlord tries to wrongfully accuse you of any damage when you move out.

And last but not least, check that they can provide a gas safety record to prove that all gas appliances in the property are safe and fit for use. Good landlords will carry checks out on these every year.

4. Protect your space

There should ALWAYS be a clause in your tenancy agreement to state how much notice your landlord should give you before coming over, otherwise you may find they’re randomly turning up unannounced far too often. Your landlord may own the property, but this doesn’t give them the right to force entry – so watch out for ones that turn up without permission, and make sure you seek advice from a service like the Citizens Advice Bureau if so, who can advise you how best to deal with the situation.

A good landlord should also have measures in place to sort out repairs should anything in the property break down, like the washing machine or cooker. It is their duty to provide repairs efficiently, and advise you of their process for escalating problems – so don’t try and fix that faulty extractor fan on your own! Things like heating and water are deemed essential by your local council’s Environmental Health department, which means that they can bring in external help to force your landlord to repair these in the event of a breakdown (if your landlord refuses to do so, or won’t respond to you).

5. Get in contact

While you don’t want your landlord turning up uninvited all the time, you do want to be able to get hold of them if you need anything sorted quickly during the tenancy. Make sure you double check and clear this with them ahead of moving in. There are few things worse than a set of lost keys and a landlord in Turkey who won’t answer your calls, after all…

At SpareRoom we’ve got real people who are dedicated to carefully checking every advert placed to make sure you’re safe and getting the real deal. Meaning the risk of dodgy landlords is lower, and your security is a priority. And with over 80,000 rooms and flatmates available, you’ve got a good chance of finding the one that’s right for you.

The 5 types of flatmate you WILL encounter (and how to handle them…)

One of the greatest joys of flatsharing is the different people you’ll meet, live with and form lasting friendships with (hopefully). But that doesn’t mean that they will be without their unqiue quirks.

Here are some of the different flatmates you’ll probably encounter when you sign that tenancy agreement and get settled into that brand new share, and how to handle their individual personality traits. NB: you might find you probably fit into one of these categories too…

Meticulously organised, The House Mum is probably the person who set up your bills, got the Wi-Fi installed and arranged a cleaning rota…before anyone had even moved in. The House Mum has many great organisational qualities, is a great source of general life advice and usually makes a brilliant shoulder to cry on in times when you’re missing your actual mum. Just watch they don’t get a little too controlling ­– they’re not your real parent, thus shouldn’t get too big a say in important life matters including: your career, your love life, and how regularly you should be cleaning your bedroom.

How to handle them:

The House Mum may assume that their big role in the house means that they are more entitled than other housemates to potential privileges like TV dominance, a bigger bedroom or dining table usage for their own dinner parties. It’s worth a gentle reminder every now and then that a flatshare means sharing, and while you’re grateful for their leadership with practical matters, you’re more than happy to take some of the load too.

You’ll be on your way out of the house, or just trying to relax in bed, when someone bursts in to share that juicy nugget of information about so-and-so they just couldn’t wait to tell you… Yep, that will be your resident Gossip, at it again. Most houses will have one. Their knowledge of everyone and everything can come in handy at times (i.e. when MailOnline has gone down for the day/you want the inside scoop on what your other flatmate did last night) but be warned – you may devote precious hours of your life listening to their tales, and there’s always the risk that one day you’ll be the subject of their gossiping…

How to handle them:

The golden rule when dealing with The Gossip is to avoid showing too much of a reaction, as this will probably become part of their gossip to someone else later. If you show that you’re not really that phased by hearing rumours about other people, they might stop using you as an outlet for their spreading too.

It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, you’ll always hear The Party Animal rolling in during the small hours of the night – and that’s without all the times they’ll probably forget their keys and wake you up with their persistent banging, followed by a passing waft of chicken nuggets and garlic mayo. The Party Animal will also exhibit an alarming ability to get up and go to work on time the following day, possibly due to their bottomless stash of Berocca and 5-minute-shower skills.

How to handle them:

The drawback of The Party Animal is that they’ll either a) insist on you partying with them, or b) wake you up when they bring themselves (and the party) home. If it all gets a bit much and you’re sick of the sleepless nights and rotting kebabs in the kitchen, have a quiet word with them and ask if they’d mind keeping the party in the bar with them. Or better still, taking it back to someone else’s flat. Try to keep up with them at your peril. Nobody can handle that much tequila…

Have you ever seen them move from the sofa? Or offer to help you clean the kitchen? No, of course you haven’t ­– because the Ultimate Slob is as the Ultimate Slob does. More often than not they’ll be skint, and likely on your back a lot to ‘borrow a fiver’ that you may never see again. On a hangover, the Ultimate Slob may not even leave their room for the entirety of a day and they are most likely to be found in their Ultimate Sloth uniform: trackies and a stained T-shirt. When it comes to communal cleaning or tasks requiring any energy expenditure, approach the Ultimate Slob with due caution. You may be disturbing their nap, after all.

How to handle them: 

Sure, their lack of input is probably going to wear thin eventually, so when you’d appreciate their help cleaning or just would generally like their (awake) company, be sure to ask tactfully. Adding an incentive to your proposition may help to, i.e. “I’d be so grateful if you helped me take the bins out, how about we share a pizza tonight to say thanks?” In time, this may also help them realise the error of their slothy ways.

Heard a door slam, but confident you were the only one in the house? Don’t worry, you’re not haunted – that’s just the Ghost up to their old tricks again. That phantom flatmate that nobody actually ever sees can scare the life out of you at times, but their ghostly tendencies also mean they’re spotlessly clean, will consistently tidy up behind themselves and won’t ever make excess noise on a weeknight. In some ways, they’re a model flatmate.

How to handle them:

I mean, it would probably be nice if you could be friends. Don’t bulldoze your way into the Ghost’s space – taking a soft approach will build a better friendship in the long run. If you spot them out of their room, try and make passing conversation e.g. “Oh, is that Brie you’ve got in that sandwich? That’s my favourite kind of cheese, I went to this amazing cheese shop the other day…” Soon you may find the Ghost comes out of their shell (and bedroom).

At the end of the day, every flatmate can have their difficult moments so communication is key. Being upfront and honest with them early on can stop characters from getting out of control, ultimately creating a more harmonious home for you all.

With over 80,000 flats and flatmates available on SpareRoom you’ve got a great chance of finding a living situation that works for you first time round.

13 things you only know if you’ve lived in an all-female flatshare

Living with your very best girlfriends can be a dream come true – life feels like a sleepover ALL THE TIME, and there’s always someone on hand for dating advice and wardrobe dilemmas. But for every amazing borrowed outfit, there’s also the female flatshare taxes – like picking hairs out the plughole, and dealing with those raging monthly hormones.

Here are some things you might recognise if you’ve lived in an all-female household…

1) Your clothes will NEVER be your clothes again.

Pro: the whole flat is essentially a bottomless, communal wardrobe – oh the outfit possibilities! Con: your chances of finding your favourite blue blouse when you need it have become very slim…

2) You might want to set up a ‘plug-hole’ rota…

Cos that’s gonna fill up with hairs at an alarming rate, and some sucker’s gonna have to get their hands dirty every week. You’ll probably consider getting shares in Mr Muscle drain unblocker, due to the excessive amount you’re getting through…

3) The necessity of the morning-after debrief.

A hangover isn’t really a hangover until it’s shared with three other girls, laden with gossip (and regret) and accompanied by tears, tissues and family-size Dairy Milk.

4) The myth of ‘syncing’ with each other is actually NOT A MYTH.

…so get ready for more tears, tissues and family-size Dairy Milk. On the plus side, collective PMT is a hell of a lot more therapeutic than solo PMT. Although not necessarily more manageable…*soz*

5) That overwhelming feeling of betrayal when one of you gets a boy/girlfriend.

Said loved-up flatmate starts to prioritise time with their new bae above all flatmates, and this very fact angers the group beyond belief. Especially when their new bae starts turning up ALL THE TIME. You lose precious kitchen access while she’s in there cooking a romantic four-course tasting menu, and then later lose sleep when they both forget just HOW thin the walls are. And of course, you’re not remotely jealous that you’re still single…

6) Your access to freshly baked goods becomes almost too easy.

Someone is almost always guaranteed to be baking something delicious, filling the house with wafts of warm biscuits, brownies and cake in the process. Just make sure you get in there before the rest of the predators demolish the whole batch in one sitting.

7) At some point, someone will go on a health kick

…and you’ll be heavily judged for not participating in the following: preparing all of your meals in a Nutribullet, 6am trips to the gym, and replacing carbohydrates with various forms of deconstructed vegetables.

8) There’s usually some free literature knocking around.

Work Hard, Play Harder! #rosé #rosegold #cosmomagazine #calm #chill #Cosmopolitan

A post shared by 1KimmyHolt (@luvnkimmy) on

Which is great, because you’ll become well-versed in the ways of the world and ALL the really important current affairs. How old is pregnant Kylie Jenner?!?

9) Anything vaguely resembling a hanging space will usually have laundry hanging off it.

Radiators with bras strewn over them…banisters with damp jeans dangling down…who even needs to bother with home décor when you’ve got fresh laundry?

10) The awkward yet inevitable moment when two of the gang fall out…

…and suddenly EVERYONE is unwillingly forced into a ‘who’s side are you on?’ war. Forget about staying neutral – you’re pledging allegiance to one of them whether you like it or not. Prepare for warfare.

11) You have to re-learn the rules of borrowing.

Magazines, Tampax and the odd bit of shampoo – all fair. Ex-boyfriends, razors and brand new clothes on the other hand…

12) The inevitable moment when you lose half of your deposit.

And it’s ALL thanks to those straightener burns on the carpets, fake tan stains on the sofa, and spilt nail varnish on the furniture. Sigh.

13) But it was ALL worth it to live with your besties.

Long live the sisterhood <3

Fancy yourself a life of Dairy Milk, shared clothes and baking? With over 80,000 rooms and flatmates on SpareRoom, there’s probably a sisterhood out there just waiting for you to join…