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

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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

So it continues…. bye scuzzy Bethnal Green… #london #gentrification #coffee #fucksake #hackney #towerhamlets #herewegoagain

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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…

Research into flatsharing couples

A survey by SpareRoom has found some couples are living with flatmates in order to save for a deposit. Other couples are moving back to the family home to reduce living costs, while others enjoy the social aspect of living with friends.

Researchers at the University of Leeds would like to speak to people who live with their partner and other adults.

Do you live with your partner and housemates or lodgers?
Do you live with your partner and your parents or ‘in-laws’?
Are you aged 18-35?

Taking part in this project involves speaking with University of Leeds researcher Liz Bridger about your experiences. Anyone who takes part in a research interview will be thanked with a £15 shopping voucher.

If you would like to find out more about taking part in this research, please get in touch with Liz directly.

tel: 07583 307 760

Safe as houses

The internet is full of scams and spam but SpareRoom isn’t. Here’s what we do to keep you protected while you rent your rooms. (Originally published in Multi-letters issue 9, Jan-Feb 2013)

The Internet has been the saviour of flatsharing in may ways. Not only does it allow people to search for rooms quickly and easily, without needing to be in the area they’re moving to, it also makes it easier for landlords offering rooms to target people searching in their area. However, there has always been a darker side to the Internet and property sites attract just as many scams and fraudsters as other websites. Some sites don’t have the resources (or, frankly, the desire) to combat fraudulent activity, as keeping things secure all adds to running costs (quite significantly if it’s done properly). at SpareRoom security is a core element of what we do – if our users are happy they’ll come back and recommend us. That’s the bottom line.

So how do we keep scams at bay and keep our users safe and happy?

Spareroom has staff dedicated to the task of keeping scams and spam off the site and commits a substantial chunk of our resources to preventing fraud. All our customer services staff are trained in spotting scams. The operation is headed up by Jim Craft. Jim is Spareroom’s security expert. Along with a dedicated team of ad checkers Jim monitors the site constantly to make sure no scam listings creep in and, in the very rare instance where one does, that it’s dealt with quickly and effectively.

People + technology = security

Spareroom has a sophisticated system of automated filters in place that check every single ad, photo and video that comes in, which is no mean feat when you consider that Spareroom has over 68,000 live ads as I write this. We then manually go through these listings for any signs of scams or fraudulent activity. With 8 years under our belts running Spareroom (and 13 with our sister site intoLondon.com) we’re getting good at spotting the signs.

A wider security team of 3 million

We also let users help us as, after all, they’ll spend far longer between them on the site than we can – there are over 3 million of them and not quite so many of us! every listing has a ‘report this ad’ link so users can let us know if they spot anything suspect. even if it turns out to be fine it’s always worth us having a look.

Keeping your email safe

We also don’t publish anyone’s email address directly on the site. This achieves two main things. Firstly, it stops automated programs from scanning the site for email addresses they can ‘harvest’ and add to spam mailing lists and, secondly, we can monitor any communications made by fraudulent advertisers once we’ve spotted their ad. This means we can alert anyone to be on the look- out if we think someone has been trying to con them.

What you can do to protect yourself

There are, of course, things you can be on the look out for to make sure you don’t fall victim to a scam. Here are our top 3 tips specifically for landlords renting out property.
1) If it looks too good to be true it probably is
If someone says they’ll take your room and pay up front without having seen it then warning bells should be sounding. There are genuine reasons why some tenants can’t view a room first but you should be extra cautious if this is the case.
2) Read all emails and messages carefully
People write messages in a hurry so it’s not unusual to see spelling mistakes in them, but you should keep an eye out for inconsistencies and errors in emails. The obvious thing is the sender including details that don’t seem quite right. Scammers send out 1,000s of emails a day so they’re probably using a template to start with.
Be on the lookout specifically for language mentioning ‘final asking price’ or someone wanting to ‘buy your item’.
3) Trust your instincts
Your instincts have been honed over a lifetime of experience so, if you have a nagging doubt about something, chances are you’re probably right. If you’re an experienced landlord you’ll probably have reliable gut feelings about people – trust them.

Jim says, “Don’t forget, by using a reputable site such as Spareroom you’re already drastically decreasing your chances of running into scams or spam. If you’re in any doubt at any point then get in touch via the ‘report this ad’ link or via the number on the site and we’ll look into it for you”.

It’s also important to remember that the scammers we keep off Spareroom will surface elsewhere and not all other websites are as scrupulous as we are in weeding them out.

Why proposals to extend tenancies might not be welcome

Recent proposals published by The Housing Voice Alliance, in their report into ways to fix the ‘broken’ housing market, include extending tenure in the private rental sector from six months to 24.  The call was intended to improve security of tenure, particularly for families with children, who are currently vulnerable to eviction at the end of a fixed tenancy and have a need for greater stability. But could this proposal have a negative impact on a growing contingent of tenants in the private rental sector?

A SpareRoom.co.uk poll conducted over the last couple of days has revealed a strong preference amongst flatsharers for shorter tenancies. Mostly young professionals in their twenties and thirties, over 300 tenants have voiced their opinion so far, with nearly 80% saying they would view the proposals negatively.

Our Facebook page has received a torrent of comments on the subject, explaining why flatsharers are coming out against the proposals:

“That could be totally impractical for a lot of people who rent. Especially younger people who are maybe working their way up the job ladder and may need to move to different locations based on their work,” says one respondent.

However, the response also reveals a lack of understanding of current tenancy contracts. Many flatsharers are worried about the implications of an extended contract, and see themselves as being locked into a tenancy, with the landlord having clear rein to increase the rent at any time.

They clearly don’t want to feel stuck, as one of the benefits of flatsharing is the flexibility to move when your circumstances change. Many feel such a move would hand too much control to the landlord, and a handful even suggested shorter tenancies of just three months would suit them better.

Sharers also raise interesting points about wider implications that may not have been anticipated by the authors of the report. Could a 24 month tenancy place further restrictions on who is accepted as a tenant, with perhaps stricter rules on deposits and guarantors coming in, as landlords seek to reduce their risk? This, as one of SpareRoom’s flatsharers points out, could lead to a lot of people finding it harder to get a tenancy agreement in the first place, and further exacerbate the housing crisis.

As more and more young people are sharing, whilst the options of renting alone or buying a home outright remain closed to them for the foreseeable future, policy makers and leaders of the housing sector would do well to note their worries and frustrations. Not everyone in the rental market is a family looking for security of tenure. And if the employment market is to be truly mobile and flexible, the housing market might also need to reflect this reality.