We’ve found this year’s LiveRentFree top dog…

A 25-piece samba band, four SpareRoomers in dog fancy dress and a giant cheque for £6,708. It’s the stuff dreams are made of, right?

Or at least it was for 29-year-old Nicola Bodfish, a Brighton-based canine-grooming enthusiast and the latest winner of our annual LiveRentFree competition.

But let’s paws (sorry) and go back to the start. In May, we invited renters to share their dreams of how they’d spend a year’s free rent. Over 80,000 entries (and a LOT of hilarious responses) later, we found our winner Nicola, whose dream was quitting her job to start a dog grooming business.

Such an insane prize deserved an equally insane reveal, so we decided to surprise Nicola on Saturday 1st July, while she was (aptly) studying at The Dog Hut Canine Studies college in Polegate. Our squad included a samba band, four SpareRoomers dressed as giant dogs, a banner with Nicola’s name plastered across it, and a HUGE cheque for £6,708 (a year of her rent) hand-delivered by Rupert, our CEO and Founder.

Her reaction? Worryingly cool, calm and collected on camera, but overall as chuffed as you’d expect: “Saturday was absolutely crazy. I really can’t thank you guys enough for such an awesome surprise – you don’t know how much this will help me progress the business plans. I don’t think it’s even sunk in yet!”

Keep your eyes peeled for Sussex-based canine updates, and in the meantime why not have a think about what you’d do with a month’s free rent? Our monthly LiveRentFree competition could make it happen sooner than you think…

It’s a yurt!

SpareRoom-yurt

We’ve had plenty of beautiful rooms on SpareRoom over the past 8 years but nothing quite like this yurt. The weather may be starting to get chilly and wet (hardly perfect camping weather) but never fear, the yurt is

“fully insulated from the rafters to the floor and has been through one harsh winter already, staying warm and dry on the inside. There’s broadband, electricity and a fantastic view of the fields all around.”

Click here to see the full ad (and more photos).

Another month, another Live Rent Free winner

This month’s recipient of a whole month’s rent, courtesy of SpareRoom, is Alex Fisher.

Alex lives in lives in Peckham (SE15), where the average rent for a double room plus bills (and therefore her prize) is £546.

alex

Alex says:

“That’s amazing news!! I can’t beleive it! I’ve literally never won anything ever!! And after entering every month for over 2 years I’d almost given up hope! I’m a Quality Assurance Analyst working in Aldgate and living in the mighty Peckham, SE London. I moved to London in 2008 after a year teaching in Japan and moved straight into a shared house. Living in London is so expensive and, with rent going through the roof, sharing is a really excellent way to make it affordable and meet some great friends along the way. I’ve met a boatload of fun and interesting people and sharing definitely helped me settle into London life! The money will come in really handy as, being 28, apparently I’m at ‘that age’ and all my friends have started to get married! So I think I’ll be using the cash to make sure I’ve got some fantastic outfits for the 4 weddings I have lined up this year! Maybe it will stretch to a few glasses of champers too.”

To be in with a chance of getting your rent paid next month head to our competition page. Alex, like 90%, of our winners, won with one of her loyalty entries (extra entries we give away free) so don’t forget to check out the ways you can earn more chances to win while you’re at it.

Good luck!

The SpareRoom team.

Join us for a Guardian panel discussion on renting

From 12.30-1.30pm today we’ll be joining a panel, including experts from Citizens Advice and Countrywide, for a live rental discussion on The Guardian website. Tenants will be able to ask questions relating to their tenancies, landlords or simply how to go about finding somewhere to live in a crowded rental market.

For further details and to submit your question visit The Guardian website

SpareRoom and IKEA are looking for the UK’s most stylish flatshare

SpareRoom is looking for the UK’s most stylish house or flatshare with the chance to appear in LIVE – the homes and ideas magazine from IKEA FAMILY.

If you’ve used IKEA to give your home personality and style, you, your housemates and your home could star in an interiors photoshoot in a future edition of LIVE magazine.

Take a photo of each room and email to homes@ikeafamilylive.com. Don’t forget to include where you live, a bit about your household and most importantly, a list of your IKEA items!

To find out more visit http://www.ikeafamilylive.com/en

Here are a couple of recent photos of rooms featured in the magazine:

ikea-spareroom

ikea-spareroom2

Cheers

Matt

4 great ways to find a flatshare in London

London flatshare search options

There have always been several ways to search for a London flatshare on SpareRoom but they’ve been a little hidden away – until now.

With a bit of design tweaking we’ve been able to create a much easier way for you to access them. Here are the 4 ways you can search:

  1. Location – Simply type in the postcode or name of the area you’re looking in and away you go. Easy
  2. Commute time – Select your ideal commute time, let us know which station you work nearest to and tell us your budget. We’ll show you all the flatshares you can reach in that time
  3. Travel zone – Looking in a specific zone or, say, between zones 2 & 3? Cut out rooms in places you’re not interested in and zone in on the relevant ones
  4. Tube line – If you want to live on a specific tube line tell us which and we’ll show you all the best flatshares you could be living in

We hope these tools make it easier for you to find a London flatshare. Happy hunting!

Matt & the SpareRoom team

SpareRoom passes 2 million registered users

We’ve know in was coming for a while but we never like to take things for granted. Still, on Friday last week we hit the 2 million registered user mark. That’s pretty big numbers!

On top of that we’re now in the Hitwise/Experian top 10 UK property sites and are the 900th busiest wesite overall for UK traffic – 900th, out of…well, shedloads!

We’re really excited by this for obvious reasons but also because numbers this big make it easier for us to explain to the powers that be just how important shared accommodation is in the UK and how many people rely on it.

As I say, we never take these things for granted and we know that every one of that 2 million is an individual who has used SpareRoom to find a flatmate, a room, a tenant or a lodger and each will have their own story.

Thanks to every single one of you – we appreciate it.

Many thanks (2 million to be precise)

Matt & the SpareRoom team

Flatshare Census iPad winner

Firstly a big thank you to everyone who took the time to take part in our Flatshare Census. We had over 10,000 responses from people of all ages around the UK (and further afield).

Unfortunately there was only one iPad to win and it has been won by Nicky Price. Congratulations Nicky!

Nicky has been using SpareRoom to find lodgers for her flat in Norwich. She says:

“Wow, it is absolutely fantastic to win an iPad, I’ve never won anything anywhere near as exciting as this before! I was on a train when I got the email from SpareRoom.co.uk and had to read it over and over again to actually believe my name had been  picked out of the draw! I’ve always wanted an iPad but never been able to afford one so this is just amazing.

SpareRoom has been great to help me find lodgers to share my flat and help pay the mortgage. I usually look for people to stay Monday to Friday and I’ve always been able to find nice, trustworthy, like-minded people. The guy currently renting the room is great, he’s been here nearly 18 months and we get on really well – so I can fully recommend SpareRoom.co.uk to find your ideal lodger/landlord/lady.
So thank you so much.. and it just goes to show that it totally worth filling in surveys and questionnaires and entering competitions as one day a winning email might drop into your inbox!”

nicky_blog

The UK Flatshare Census

With the 2011 census fresh in everyone’s minds we’ve decided to do one of our own. Why? Well, it’s simple really – hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people in the UK rely on shared accommodation. Despite that the government collects very few stats on who lives in flatshares (or who takes in lodgers) and why.

As census data is used to allocate hundreds of billions of pounds of public money it makes sense for us to know how that public is living. So, we’re launching the UK’s first Flatshare Census today.

Just to be clear – none of the data collected will be used in such a way as to identify participants. We also promise not to use the data we collect to market to anyone (or to sell it on to anyone else to do the same).

The census should take 5-10 mins to complete and one lucky participant (drawn at random) will win an iPad.

Take part

Great new London area info tool

Where to live in London

Choosing an area in London can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you’re new to the city. Most people either end up in one of the few areas they’ve heard of or choose somewhere based on where their frinds are or to be near work. There’s nothing like a bit of local knowledge though when it comes to living in a new city – luckily, with hundreds of thousands of Londoners using SpareRoom every year we’re not short on local knowledge.

So, to take advantage of this (and make things easier for you), we’ve now added a new ‘area info’ feature to SpareRoom’s London ads. This shows you the average monthly rents for a single and double room in the area (including bills), plus a handy list of the tube and train stations you’ll find there. The best bit though is information on what each area is like based on real feedback from SpareRoom users who live there. Whether you’re looking for somewhere leafy, chilled, good for pubs or multi-cultural we’ve taken the recommendations of thousands of Londoners to help you decide where to live.

Every London ad on SpareRoom now has an area info link (next to the postcode at the top of the details):

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Click the link and it’ll take you to the info for the area in question (in the example the area is Brixton).

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If you know the area already there’s even a link so you can tell us what you think.

Happy hunting – don’t forget to come back and let us know what you think of your area once you’ve moved in!

Cheers

Matt