Matt Hutchinson, director of SpareRoom.co.uk, the UK’s biggest flat and house share site, shares his tips on saving money on your rent.
Over the past year, UK room rents have risen by 8% from £505 per month to £546 per month. If you think your landlord may raise your rent, don’t be afraid to barter. Many landlords are open to negotiation, as they would much rather have good tenants that stay long term and take care of the property, than risk attracting tenants who fail to pay their rent on time. If that doesn't work, ask your landlord to include some household bills as part of the package, or for home improvements to be carried out in return for the increase. If you don't ask, you don't get!
2. Check the small print
If you’re mid house hunt and dealing with a lettings agent, check if they charge any admin fees first, which can rack up significantly. They must be upfront and clear about their charges. They must also tell you if these fees are refundable should your application be unsuccessful. Fees vary dramatically between agents, but the average paid by tenants dealing with agents is £365, according to a survey of 10,000 of our users. If you deal directly with a private landlord you may pay nothing at all in fees.
3. Flat share
Sharing a house or flat is 41% cheaper than renting solo. The average cost of renting a one-bedroom flat in England and Wales is currently £768, compared to £546 per month for a room in a flat or house share.
4. Know your rights
Almost two thirds (65%) of tenants have had issues getting some or all of their deposits back from landlords. Check if the landlord is protecting your deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme. Unless they're living in the property themselves, they must do this by law, and give you clear information about which tenancy deposit scheme they're using. If they don't follow the law correctly, you could be reimbursed the full deposit plus three times its value.
5. Become a lodger
Save money by looking for rooms offered by 'live-in-landlords'. These are homeowners renting out spare rooms in their properties. They're often prepared to rent at below average market rents to ensure the widest choice of applicants - because they can be choosy about who they share their homes with. These rooms will mostly be free of extra charges such as application and inventory fees, and other costs associated with renting via a lettings agent, but you will be living in someone else's house, so you'll have to be prepared to abide by their house rules. Rooms advertised by live-in landlords are on average 14% cheaper than other ads on SpareRoom.