What can you rent for £589 per month?

There’s no denying renting in the UK is expensive, even flatsharing – the most affordable option – is getting pricier by the day. The average room rent for a flatshare in the UK in March was £589, that’s up 11% from £530 a year ago.

With prices rising at this rate, getting value for money becomes even more important. We took a look at the rooms available on SpareRoom.co.uk to see what £589 per month can get you across the UK. Lucky average rent doesn’t have to mean average accommodation – there are plenty of great houseshares out there.

When we looked, 71% of all ads come in at the average UK rent or less. That said, if you’re looking in larger cities, the number of rooms available on budget falls – in London, just one in four rooms comes in under £589. One such room can be found in Wimbledon. For £585 per month, plus bills, you could find yourself in this bright maisonette, complete with original Victorian ceilings and fireplaces.

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It’s a spacious double, with built-in storage, tasteful kitchen and garden (a luxury in London).

Staying in the South East, in Reading you can rent this luxurious double room for £550 per month, including bills.

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You won’t be surprised to hear that your money will go further in Manchester. If you’re happy with a Monday to Friday rental, this place comes in at £580 per month, including bills.

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It’s an old warehouse conversion with original exposed beams and redbrick walls, located in the heart of the Northern Quarter.

In Aberdeen you’ll find plenty of rooms on offer – according to SpareRoom data it’s seen 140% increase in people taking in lodgers in the last two years. With plenty of rooms available, the standard is high – for £585 you can rent a furnished room in this two bedroom flat. It’s not just any room either – you get a walk in wardrobe, ensuite and parking space all included in the package.

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So there you have it, a selection of rooms for £589. Not bad are they? You’d hope so too at more than a quarter of the average salary.

What’s the average room rent in your area? Download SpareRoom’s Rental Index to find out.


Rents rising fastest in Scotland, while London becomes even more unaffordable

The latest Room Rental Index from SpareRoom, covering the first quarter of 2013, has revealed strong demand in Scotland has pushed up rental asking prices in 3 Scottish cities faster than most cities in the UK. Rents in Dundee rose by 12.9% compared with the first quarter of last year. Aberdeen saw rents rise by 8.4% and Falkirk by 6.3%.

Rents have not risen uniformly across the UK, but in certain pockets, responding to localised demand and supply. Bolton in the NorthWest of England saw a rise of 7.7%, and in the South East we saw rises of 6.0% in East London and 4.9% in Reading.

In London, where rents now stand at 20% higher than 2 years ago, the average room rent is £660 per month inclusive of bills. Surely we don’t have much further to go before we hit an affordability ceiling, and London becomes just too expensive to house its workers. Priced out of buying and renting solo long ago, it won’t take much before even renting a room in a flatshare, often the most affordable option, will become the exclusive reserve of the well paid.

Rents are rising at well above inflation, and people who’ve seen little or no increase in their salaries will find it tougher to bear further rent increases.

The bright side for most who rent rooms in shared accommodation is that at least there isn’t the added cost of utility bills to factor in. ‘All inclusive’ is a silver lining in an increasing bleak rental market.

For a town by town view of asking prices in the room rental market, download SpareRoom’s Rental Index.

Room Rents up – especially in London

According to the SpareRoom Rental Index, released this week, room rents across the country have risen 7% since last year. The rise was not consistent across the country though, with some areas showing small falls in rents. The index takes into account rents advertised for double rooms in shared houses and flats, inclusive of bills, across all town and cities in the UK.

The towns with the biggest annual increases are concentrated in the South East, where Kingston upon Thames recorded a 56% increase. East Central London postcodes also saw a large jump, up 17% on last year’s rents. All areas of London have generally seen rent rises, whilst cities in other parts of the country have experienced falling rents – Newcastle upon Tyne and Liverpool saw room rents fall by 1%, whilst Belfast recorded a fall of 4%. Rents were close to flat in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow, which is an indicator that supply is close to outstripping demand.

The latest figures released by SpareRoom incorporate rents for the last three months (Sep-Nov 2012) and are available to download free at www.spareroom.co.uk/rentalindex.

Room for Rent – Bills Included?

You might think that setting the rent you charge for your room is simple. You just pick an amount that:

  • covers your mortgage
  • gives you a profit
  • reflects the facilities, size and location of the room

Once you’ve done your research, including checking the SpareRoom Rental Index, you’ll know what the going rate tends to be in your area, and you can pick your figure. Right? Wrong.

There are two additional factors you need to consider when deciding how much to charge (and they could have a big impact on the response to your ads).

Bills Included or Excluded?

The most popular way to advertise on SpareRoom.co.uk is bills included. We recently polled our users, asking them how they prefer to see rents displayed in SpareRoom ads. The overwhelming response was with bills included in the amount (94%), with only 3% saying that they preferred to see the amount without bills, and the same percentage not having a preference either way.

Having bills included makes it easy for tenants and lodgers to keep a handle on their outgoings, so they know how much they can afford to then spend on more appealing things – food, clothes and going out! When bills are excluded, it’s unnerving that you could at any time be presented with a large bill you hadn’t planned for.

A quick search of our database reveals that only 14% of our rooms are currently offered exclusive of bills, which should keep most sharers happy!

Weekly or Monthly rent?

The second factor to consider is whether to offer your room with a weekly or monthly rent. Going by current trends, most room advertisers (66%) show a monthly rental amount, whilst 34% list rent weekly. But what do room seekers prefer? Weekly amounts look significantly lower, so it’s tempting to think that could entice them to click on your advert.

A room seeker, scanning a list of mostly monthly rents, might be tempted to click on a tantalizingly low figure. When they realise it’s a weekly amount and, therefore, not as low as it first seemed, they may feel slightly duped.

Our theory was that room seekers would overwhelmingly prefer to see monthly rents, especially if they’re receiving a monthly salary rather than a weekly wage packet. But then we analysed Room Wanted ads (placed by over a quarter of a million room seekers in the last year) and discovered that, in fact, only 60% express their budget in terms of monthly rent, with 40% choosing to state it in weekly terms.

So although there is a defined preference for monthly, it’s not as clear-cut as whether to include bills or not. Something for you to ponder, before you place your next room offered ad.

June Room Rental Index figures

Our June Room Rental Index stats are now available as a free download from SpareRoom.co.uk.

The index is invaluable to landlords all across the UK as it lists the average price for a double room in all the UK post towns and postcodes we’ve had listings from, along with detail on how much prices have risen or fallen over the past quarter and how high demand is in each area.

All you need to do to receive this powerful information is to go to SpareRoom’s Rental Index page and register (which is completely free).



Great new book on lodgers

We recently got hold of a copy of The Quick Guide to Taking in a Lodger by Tessa Shepperson of Lodger Landlord and LandlordLaw.

It’s a great introduction for anyone who’s thinking of taking in a lodger or even those who have but need a bit more guidance. It covers topics such as rental agreements, HMOs and dealing with problems in a clear and readable format that will get you up to speed with the minimum of hassle. If you’re thinking of renting out your spare room then it’s well worth the investment.

Obviously we’d also recommend The Essential Guide to Flatsharing as well (seeing as we wrote it) if you need a more general book on shared accommodation.

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



How to rent a room part 2

OK, so, in the first part of out guide on renting out a room in your home we looked at basic preparation – who you should inform before you take anybody in. This time we’ll look at the room itself and the property. The 3 main issues we’ll look at are:

  • preparing the room
  • preparing the property
  • setting your rent

The room

Furnished or not

One thing we need to make clear at the outset is if you’re renting out a room under the Rent a Room Scheme, it must be furnished. That doesn’t really need any explanation does it? Unfurnished rooms don’t qualify under the scheme – simple as that. You’ll also need to de-clutter the room as nobody will want to rent your room if you’ll be wandering in every time you need something you’ve stored on top of their wardrobe or under the bed. It’s a good idea to de-clutter before you show people round rather than saying ‘oh yeah, all this will be gone before you move in’ as it’ll help make the room look bigger if it’s empty apart from furniture.

Single or double?

If at all possible it’s a good idea to put a double bed in the room as most people prefer a double to a single. If the room is small thought it might be best to stick with a single as you’ll need to leave enough room around it for someone to get in and out. You may find if you rent to a student that they’d prefer a single and a desk as they’ll most likely have work to do in the room. Whether you advertise as a single or a double can be open to debate (especially if the room is somewhere in between) but we’ll come on to that in a later post.

The property

Kitchens and bathrooms

In a recent interview we did with Sarah Beeny she gave the following advice to anyone looking to take in a lodger:

I think the most important thing is to make sure your kitchen and bathroom are really clean because there’s nothing more grim than someone else’s dirt in the kitchen or bathroom!

Gas checks and safety

You need to make sure that your gas appliances are maintained and in good order. You must have them checked annually by someone who is registered with the Gas Safe Register. Fire regulations only apply if the property isn’t your main residence. You should fit smoke alarms as a matter of common sense and make sure you test them regularly.

Setting your rent

It’s always a good idea to check the market in your area to see what a room is worth before setting your rent. There’s no point in either pricing yourself too far above or too far below other rooms.

The two main ways of doing this are:

  1. Check your local area on SpareRoom.co.uk to see what other people are charging. Just type your postcode into the search box and see what else there is nearby. This will also help when it comes to writing your ad later on as you can get a sense of which ads you’d be most likely to respond to if you were looking for a room
  2. Download the latest Room Rental Index and see what the averages are in your area. Obviously there will be rooms well above and below the averages but the index, especially the postcode level one, should give you an idea of where to start and also an indication of how strong demand is likely to be. Don’t forget, the averages in the index are for double rooms including bills

In the next posts we’ll look at sorting out a contract, taking a deposit, agreeing terms before your lodger moves in and how to advertise your room.


The SpareRoom Rental Index

As from today we’re making the SpareRoom.co.uk Rental Index available to download free of charge for our registered users – previously the index has only been made available to journalists.

Whether you have a large portfolio of properties or just need to know how much to charge for your spare room, the index is a valuable set of info on room prices across the UK.

There are 2 Indexes for you to view and download (free of charge – you’ll just need to log in or create a free account if you’re not an existing user). The first is a snapshot of the UK listed by post town and the second goes into more detail, both in terms of geographical location and data.

What does the index cover?

The index covers average rents for a room in the area listed (either post town or postcode). This is the average (mean) rent for a double room including bills.

Note – The figures in the index are averages across the previous 3 month period (ie. September’s index contains averages for June-August).

Other information covered includes:

  • Quarterly change – The % change in rent over the past 3 months
  • Demand index – Takes the average number of views per advert in each area and gives higher ratings to areas with the highest number of views per advert. A good indication of how much demand there is for rooms in an area – the longer the bar the higher the demand
  • Median rent – This is the typical rent you’ll see in the area, worked out by taking the exact middle point of the range of adverts in that postcode (in contrast to the mean weekly rent which takes the total amount of rent charged in the area and divides by the number of rooms). This is displayed according to whether the room in question was priced per week or per month (see below)
  • Median pw/pcm – Useful in busier areas as it gives an indication of whether rooms are likely to be advertised by the week or month in that area
  • Min/max pw – The lowest and highest rents charged in the area over the past 3 months

We’ll be making the index available every month from now on.

Download the latest index