I Rented a Room from SpareRoom. Here’s what happened...

Sunday 22 September 2019

I moved to Bournemouth back in April. I accepted my job, and that was it, within a week I had organised somewhere to live via SpareRoom. This story is a bit of a tale of two sides, as I found both my initial place to live on SpareRoom, and the place I currently live, on SpareRoom. Both experiences are in direct contrast to each other so to give a fair chance to SpareRoom, I'll give you both stories...

PSA. A wall of text is coming at you.

April- Mid May: First Room
I'd just accepted my job and I was buzzing. First things first, organise a place to live, I thought to myself. So I downloaded the SpareRoom and began my search. With a smaller budget, I was fairly limited with regards to rooms. Most were £400 - £500 per month, and my budget was £350 (at a stretch £400). I found one, it looked clean, light and airy and score! It was £350 per month with a £250 deposit.

I went down with my Auntie to view it and I met the live in landlord. She seemed nice enough, a little stressed if anything and she immediately showed me my room. She asked me two main questions, almost immediately, did I have a boyfriend and what type of food I cooked.. I thought nothing of this at the time, as far as I was concerned a) I don't have a boyfriend and b) I don't cook offensive food unless you count a stir fry as offensive and, it's her house, of course she doesn't want strangers just wandering around.

The room was a little small and 80% bed but at the end of the day... I spend 80% of my time outside of work in bed, so not really an issue. She asked for me to pay a 'good-will gesture' towards the room, as I couldn't move in for a further two and a half weeks. I said, I needed to think about it and would let her know by the end of the day. I decided, why not, I needed somewhere to live and the room was adequate, and well priced. So I paid the £100, with the remaining £150 deposit and £350 first months rent to be paid when I moved in. I obviously put adequate references whilst paying these into the landlord's account, just in case, as I'd never rented a room this way before.

April rolled around, and I moved in. I was essentially told I could use my bedroom, the shower room, and kitchen only. The landlord and her live-in boyfriend helped me with my stuff and all was dandy. I was given half a fridge shelf to share with the other lodger (and once the new lodger moved in this was essentially reduced to 1/8th of a shelf) and half a shelf in a cupboard. To me, this was very little space when I was asked to bring my own cooking implements.

I asked for a key for my room, to which it was replied that the other lodger didn't have one but she gave me one nonetheless. I don't like the idea of strangers rifling through my things. It fills me with unease. I'd also like to point out, I didn't meet the other lodger until 3 weeks in... which in itself was quite confusing. I can understand why he made himself scarce though. He moved out after a month.

The second night I slept there, I put my phone on charge, and when I woke up in the morning it was on 2%, I was lucky the alarm went off. I was slightly confused, but thought I must've accidentally turned the power off whilst sorting out my fairy lights. I soon realised, the landlord, was unlocking my bedroom and turning off my power sockets (located behind my dirty washing). Bizarre.

I soon started to notice things moving in my room, and my door being unlocked. The landlady told me she had had a house viewing (she was open about the fact she was trying to sell the house). I just said oh right, next time, just let me know and I'll make sure my room is super tidy and left unlocked. Not a problem. So, the next time she had a viewing, she told me and I cleaned my room. I'm a very tidy person, so I tidied further. SHE TIDIED OVER MY TIDYING. Weird.

Writing this, this doesn't seem like a lot.. but it was constant invasion of privacy, moving my stuff and just feeling genuinely uneasy where I was living. She also constantly fought her live-in boyfriend, and took showers at 11.30pm which was right next to my head whilst I tried to sleep.

I began to feel very isolated with just having this one room, and in a way, quite depressed as I just felt like my personal space was constantly being invaded. Don't get me wrong, I don't think she meant any harm in what she was doing, and was a nice lady, but I don't think renting a room in your house out works if you have serious control issues and you need to set your expectations accordingly.

I gave my notice after one month (I gave the excuse I was moving back in with my parents), and had another month of feeling isolated/ depressed to endure. I'd found my next place, they'd accepted me and I was due to move in on 1st June.

However, it all came to a head one evening, I came home to find what little space I did have outside my room had been whittled down to virtually nothing (as someone had moved in, replacing the old lodger), and my room was unlocked.. AGAIN. I packed 70% of my things that evening and moved back to my parents. I commuted for 3 weeks (the rest I moved out a week later).

When it came to the end of the my 'tenancy', I once again, felt uneasy. At no point had I signed a contract (rookie mistake), and I was left terrified that my deposit wouldn't be returned when I returned the key. I ended up asking for my deposit to be returned in cash- which she duly did and even said I could return again should I find myself in a different position. Luckily, this has not been the case thus far...

Congrats on making it this far.. onto the second room!

1st June- Onwards: Second Room
So, I  decided I needed out and as I knew no one in Bournemouth, I found myself back on SpareRoom again. Tentatively, of course. I found a place, the rent was higher than my previous place, but the 'social atmosphere' drew me in! I was desperate to get out of essentially, isolation.

I messaged the landlord, who gave me one of my housemates numbers to arrange a viewing. I loved the room, and it was a cute quirky attic type room with a large window (perfect for me!) and the housemates I met (Christine!) was absolutely lovely. I was up against someone else, so I waited to find out if I was successful. BOOM! I was successful and found out I got the room in my current house on 1st May and accepted immediately!

I have to say, my housemates are great, the landlord lives abroad (but recently came to visit us- and he's fab!), the house is perfectly suited as we are all social people and will have a chat, or watch Friends together, or bitch about boys, or have a few drinks. It's also only 5 mins from work (winner winner). I've been living here happily now for 3 months and I love my cute little room.

Thank you for reading my essay (all 1,330 words of it), and I hope if you decide to use SpareRoom, that you proceed with caution!

Have you ever had an experience on SpareRoom? I'd love to know!

XOXO Molly

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