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Compose the Ad - Place the Ad

The composition and the length of your advert will be largely affected by where you want to post the advert. Adverts placed in shop windows will usually have to fit onto a piece of paper or card, the size of a postcard. For this reason the amount of text you can include will be limited. The charge for this service is usually very cheap, most likely less than 1 per week. Adverts placed in newspapers are expensive and the cost is proportional to the size/length of the advert. For this reason you will probably find that you are restricted to composing a very abbreviated advert.

Placing an advert online is the definite favourite. My personal recommendation would be, without doubt, to use Gumtree. Use the heading - "To Share > Offered". Choose the appropriate sub-heading for roommate, flatmate or housemate. There is no charge for a basic advert. The advert can be updated, edited or removed instantly at any time.

Having chosen where you are going to post your advert, now you can decide what information to include in the advert. First set the rent amount. Check out the competition. Adverts already placed online will enable you to set your rent to a realistic competitive figure, bearing in mind exactly what you are offering. Remember, if you set the amount too high you could be waiting weeks before finding a suitable applicant. If you set the amount a little below market rent, you could find a suitable applicant within hours of placing the advert.

Write in clear simple English. Don't try to be funny or clever. It will achieve nothing. Include all the important details - rent, location, size of room, included facilities such as washing machine, central heating, off road parking, etc. Are all bills included? If so, this should be emphasised in the advert. In this way lengthy discussions and possible misunderstandings at a later stage can be avoided. Emphasise any plus points that make your accommodation superior to the competition. Any limitations such as "non-smokers only" or "students preferred" are best included at this stage too.

To obtain a fast response to your advert include at least one contact phone number. For security reasons, never quote the exact address of the accommodation that you are offering. Relying on e-mail only will limit the response to your advert and slow the whole process down considerably.

Whether you come from the U.K. or from overseas, it is strongly recommended that you write your advert in English.
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Answering Responses to your Ad

When answering phone calls from prospective sharers who are responding to your advert, in addition to answering their questions, you will be surprised how much YOU can learn about THEM. Try to be polite, friendly and informal. Even though you are chatting in a friendly manner you can still direct the conversation in such a way as to find out important things about the applicant.

How long would they be intending to stay? Just a few weeks or long term?
What is their reaction to any restrictions that you want to impose such as, "no smoking" or "no friends allowed to stay overnight"?

Where does the applicant live now? Why are they leaving?
They may have a perfectly good reason. On the other hand they may have had a disagreement with their present landlord and have been asked to leave. They are unlikely to admit this outright but you will probably detect telltale signs in their reply.

Do they try to negotiate a lower rent than the figure demanded in your advert? Negotiating a reduction in rent before even having viewed the accommodation is a bad sign and might indicate a pushy person. If you show any signs of agreeing to their demand at this early stage they will probably see you as being soft and easy to manipulate. So beware. Be firm and direct, without resorting to being rude.

You may just have a "gut feeling" that you will not be happy to share accommodation with the person, or worse you may feel that you don't trust the person. If so, find a polite way to say "no" at this early stage. Avoid setting up a viewing which is destined to be a waste of both your time, and the applicant's time.

If the applicant sounds promising, give them the address and postcode and arrange an early viewing date and time. If your accommodation is difficult to find, give them some helpful hints. Your house or flat may not be very clearly numbered, but there will usually be a distinctive landmark nearby. There is nothing more frustrating and stressful for the applicant than finding the right street and yet being unable to locate the exact property.

Finally, I recommend that you be organised and logical in your search for a suitable roommate, flatmate or housemate. If you have placed a good, effective advert you will receive many replies from interested applicants. Compile an organised list of names and contact numbers. You will want to know who is coming to view on what day and at what time. It is surprisingly easy for mix-ups to occur. So avoid this potential catastrophe by being organised.

The Viewing - Meeting the Applicant

The viewing is not only an opportunity for the prospective sharer to view the accommodation and make a judgement about its suitability. It is an opportunity for him, or her, to get to know you better and decide whether they want to share accommodation with you. It is also an opportunity for you to get to know more about the applicant and decide whether you would be happy sharing your accommodation with them. As in your earlier telephone conversation, try to be polite, friendly and informal. Even though you are chatting in a friendly manner you can still direct the conversation in such a way as to clarify things about the applicant that you weren't able to clarify over the phone.

How long would they be intending to stay? Just a few weeks or long term?
What is their reaction to any restrictions that you want to impose such as, "no smoking" or "no friends allowed to stay overnight"?
Have they got their own bed linen or do they want you to supply it?

Where does the applicant live now? Why are they leaving?
They may have a perfectly good reason. On the other hand they may have had a disagreement with their present landlord and have been asked to leave. They are unlikely to admit this outright but you will probably detect telltale signs in their reply.

Do they try to negotiate a lower rent than the figure demanded in your advert? Negotiating a reduction in rent could be a bad sign and might indicate a pushy person. If you show any signs of agreeing to their demand they will probably see you as being soft and easy to manipulate. This could be a problem later on, after they have moved in. So beware. Be firm and direct, without resorting to being rude.

Ability and willingness to pay the deposit and rent promptly is of utmost importance. If you have a good feeling about the applicant, make it clear to them that payment of the deposit, and possibly a first rent payment, will secure the accommodation for them. In other words, once you have received the up-front payment you will block all other interested applicants from viewing the accommodation. But until this payment is received the accommodation will remain available to any interested applicants who might read you advert. Be positive, but not too pushy. The applicant may have other properties to view and will probably want some time to make up his or her mind. From their point of view this is a sensible approach. A hurried decision at this stage could be a wrong decision.

Remember, the person you are talking to at the viewing could end up being a future roommate or flatmate. During this first face to face meeting you may detect evidence of bad or irritating habits. Is the person noisy, do they leave doors open, is their car blocking another car in the car park? Have they brought one or two friends along with them to the viewing? If they moved in maybe they would frequently invite friends around to join them. Maybe this would not be a problem for you. You may even like the idea. Whatever your view, it is something worth bearing in mind.

Occasionally an applicant might not attend the viewing him or herself but instead arranges for a friend to view on his or her behalf. The rule is simple. Never offer to share with someone that you haven't met, face to face, even if their friend willingly offers you up-front payment.

Perhaps you will feel that you have met the perfect potential roommate or flatmate but they cannot move in for several weeks because they have to give their current landlord notice. The decision is difficult. Should you accept the person and also accept the fact that you will receive no rent for several weeks? Or should you say "no" and hope you can find someone else? If you are lucky you might be able to persuade the person to pay a "holding fee" equal to half rent, for example, to cover the period up to when they actually move in.

Last but not least, you must make it absolutely clear that no keys will be handed over until the moving in date and only provided that all up-front payments have been made.

Most people don't carry large amounts of cash with them so make an appointment for a second visit when they can pay the up-front payments that you are asking for. Your minimum requirement should be payment of the deposit well in advance of the moving in date. Only accept cash. Cheques take time to clear. If the person wants to move in immediately on the viewing day this could be good news for you. In this situation you will probably have to accept total up-front payment at the time of moving in but don't forget -
No keys to be handed over until the total payment has been received !!!

If in doubt, say "No".

At the end of the viewing, if in doubt, say "No". Or if you can't face saying "No" face to face, call or text the person as soon as possible after the viewing and politely expain that the accommodation is no longer available. There is no need to give any reason for your decision.

COMPOSE THE AD - PLACE THE AD
ANSWERING RESPONSES TO YOUR AD
THE VIEWING - MEETING THE APPLICANT

Help & Advice for
Foreign Students
International Students
Foreign Workers !!!