London likes to throw challenges in our tracks every now and again, finding a flatmate is definitely one of them. I think it’s safe to say most Londoners will have taken this on (with reluctance) during their time in the city. Things are constantly changing and you’re pretty lucky if you’ve not found yourself in a situation where you need a place to live, rental contracts amongst friends don’t line up, or someone wants to leave.
I’ve recently found myself in need of finding a flatmate, meaning that I’ve survived pretty much everything London living can throw at you. I’ve lived in a large random shared house, with friends, and now with a stranger. Whilst I don’t have the answer to finding the perfect housemate (I don’t think they exist!), I’ve learnt a few things along the way I thought may be worth sharing. I’m also hoping you’ll add your tips and any funny stories in the comments box below.
Contracts – An obvious one. If you want to stay and replace your current flatmate it’s important to understand your contract. When can you terminate the contract? Who can terminate the contract? How much notice do you have to give? Who’s responsible for the rent/deposit/fees until you find a replacement? Will they do an inventory update? Just a few questions I’d find the answer to.
Finding a flatmate – I started with an email to friends and asked them to send it on to people they trust. You only need to know one or two kind people to get the word out to a decent amount of people. A recommendation is always desirable. If not Spareroom is my favourite for ads, you can do a lot more than other sites for free and you can track how many views you get to judge popularity. It’s also the easiest to navigate if you’re looking for a spareroom.
The flatmate ad– Treat it like a sort of online dating profile. Have decent pictures of the flat and spareroom, include all the important features and the kind of person you’re looking for, but don’t oversell it or lie. Same applies if you’re looking, a profile picture isn’t really necessary, to be honest you’re really being judged on your job and what kind of flat you’re looking for (ie, do you have a job, will that affect your time in the flat, are they looking for a sociable flat etc).
Viewings – You may be happy to do them ad-hoc or all in one night if you can arrange it. I got more interest within a month of the advertised move date, so try not to worry if you don’t have many viewings at first. When showing people around be honest but don’t outline all the faults, at the same time don’t oversell it like a second-hand car dealer. It’s also good if you can sit down and have a chat, think of a few questions important to you like whether they enjoy a glass of wine in the evening *ahem*.
Making the decision – It’s always tough with strangers as you don’t know what they’ll be like when you’re actually living together but I think you have to trust your judgement and keep your fingers crossed!
Do you have any tips to add or a funny story to share about your experience of flatmate finding?