Looking for a lodger or apartment sharer in the London, UK used to be fairly straightforward process.
Gumtree did a fairly good job. But recent times Gumtree just isn’t getting many replies, generally because of increased competition and Gumtree now charging for everything, for example £5 for website link and £50 for a dumb-ass red “urgent”, whoever thought of that needs a labotomy. I’ve tried with them this time, the first few hours I had 25 hits, now virtually nothing, presumably because I’m off the first page. Gumtree (an ebay company) I feel they have probably forgotten why they became successful in the first place, which is basically a site which enables transactions to happen easily and inexpensively. My recent experiences with Gumtree seem to mirror those of ebay which is now very poor
Anyway, at the moment I’m not desperate enough to spend £50 – £100 to get priority coverage on Gumtree, so …
Enter easyroomate dot com and spareroom.co.uk
Both have good SEO and PPC presence on google.co.uk, both sites advertise free listings. My experiences so far have been worlds apart for each site.
Easyroomate seem to operate on what I call the “dating website scam”. What this basically means is that they advertise that their site is “free”, and it is to signup, add a profile. However they rigorously control any contact details like phone numbers, websites etc, these are removed or photos/videos with contact details are “not authorised”. When a prospective renter gets in contact, it’s only then that the dumb-ass who signed up on their site realises that they have to pay for the contact details of the other party. In the case of easyroommate, minimum £25. It’s also my opinion that the authenticity of the contacts were dubious, these people had massive budgets and just suited what I was looking for a bit too much. I have no way to prove this because obviously I don’t work at easyroommate.
Also, using my brain I can see that actually the only one doing anyone a favour with Easyroommate, is me doing them a favour. They have an extra authentic listing on their site to make them look more popular, attract more renters and landlords. So I’m essentially providing them with free advertising, whilst they want to stiff me for £25. You can see why I’d be slightly annoyed, and very much not going to use them ever again.
On top of all this I got endless patronising emails from some guy called “Frank”. I don’t know you Frank nor do I want to be on first name terms with you, nor do I wish there to be any more spam in my inbox from you. Actually, nor do I wish to be bombarded by you with your witty little ditties, that are carefully crafted to persuade me of your keenness to help me, but are actually designed to make me part with my money. Dude, you’re trying too hard and it shows.
Spareroom by complete contrast, seem to be allowing prospective renters to contact me and vise versa and contact details exchanged phone, email etc, no problem. Obviously they need to make money, and it’s possible to upgrade to their “early bird” service, which allows renters and landlords, who’ve registered within 7 days to contact each other. Judging by what I’ve seen so far. I would probably use this service in future, but currently I’m in no hurry, so happy days.
Their communications are straightforward and businesslike, friendly enough and detailed enough, and all without being on first name terms with some guy who probably doesn’t even exist.
My gut feeling is that it’s basically run by honest genuine people, who are trying to earn an honest living.
I have sent them some feedback, indicating that I’m very happy with them.
Update 26-Aug-2013, I have managed to find one negative, spareroom didn’t authorise my video, presumably because it contained my website address.
Beware of things that seem too good to be true, usually they aren’t. Free advertising is a precious resource. I am happy to say good things about people who are doing a good honest job, and also want to point out the unscrupulous, the dubious and the downright scammers.
Bottom line –
Easyroommate, borderline scammers 0/10
Spareroom, great very happy 9/10 (so far)
Easyroommate dot com – look it up yourself, and do click on their Adwords link at the top of the page.
23 thoughts on “Review, find a lodger or sharer – easyroommate vs spareroom”
I have used Easyroommate to advertise my student houses for the last 4 years and initially it was very good but last year prices increased by a factor of 3 and the number of potential tenants responding to the ads has decreased.
This last year their management of my ads has been terrible. I recently removed a copy of a floor plan from one property and got an email back telling me my changes “had not made the grade”. So deleting an out of date floor plan is not acceptable to them? They also deleted an existing floor plan from the same ad.
After not receiving a reply to my email I had to telephone them and was told it was an error and would not happen again.
Guess what happened yesterday when another change was made with another floor plan. Yes – they did the same again and again had to telephone. When asked to speak to whoever was in charge was informed they do not take incoming calls but would ring me back.
Now 7-00 pm (9.5 hours later and still no callback)
Consider carefully if using to advertise your property with increasing costs, dwindling responses to adverts and poor account management who don’t want to discuss issues.
Warning people! Do not go to spareroom.Com to rent rooms. I put down £1320 for a deposit and rent and now the landlady is not answering my calls or texts, I was supposed to move in tommorow. My friends have called but once they mention my name she blocks their numbers immediately. She did not give me keys or a contract. She claims her name is Shane Haward and the address of the flat is 109a mount pleasant road lewisham SE13 6HX her telephone number she is using on spare room is 07598 986054. The room is still being advertised online with ref #2727358. Be warned she will tell you she is French and she is into property development. She is a fraudster and will take your money. Once more be weary of renting from spareroom.com! I called them to report this women and they have no information about her, this is so scary and I I feel like gathering people outside the property until get my money back. I worked for this money and she has taken it. Feel free to ring the number and harass her, she is evil.
Hey Don Charisma, great post it’s a shame we’re so many in the same boat! I find searches with spareroom easier to use but equally frustrating to pay for the early bird option to see offers that might not even fit my criteria…I’ve been recently searching through a new website called weroom that is completely free (yay for my student budget) and the interface ressembles what you would expect a modern website to look like! Thanks for your story! C.
YW, and have been using spareroom again recently, so far so good … good luck with your search 😀
Completely agree. Was successful in finding a lovely rental through spareroom a couple of years ago and thought I would have access to more renters by adding easyroommate this time. Then I find out that I can’t even exchange messages with prospective renters without upgrading at a ridiculous price. Also details/profiles of renters and their properties are very sparse/sketchy with few photos. Your article was accurate and informative. Well done.
Thanks Kathryn, your comment was timely for me as I’m looking at the moment and reminded me to log in … I think some of these sites work on the dating website scam, in that they send you fake profiles and interest in order to extract money, by the time you realise that no one real uses the site, it’s too late you’ve paid …
My current experience is that I’m getting a lot of emails and gentle pressure to pay the early bird fee … so far we’ve had communication with quite a few people and will find someone soon I’m sure 😀 … and seems to work better than what we’d been using previously, gumtree, which has only gone downhill since ebay acquired it …
O maaan, wish I’ve seen this earlier. Here is my official review I posted few minutes ago:
Fraudulent, worthless service. Explained in detail and hints on what to watch out for.
If you were wise enough to look for reviews of this site before you decided to upgrade to their ‘premium membership’ service, then I am glad that some good may have come from my own foul experience with this company. I will explain in brief how they benefit from you in few short steps and you can see how this relate to your case. If a bell starts ringing, then just move on and use some more conventional web services to help you find a suitable place to live in London.
1. You sign up for their service. You try to narrow down your search. You soon realize that more often than not you will need a premium membership in order to have a meaningful communication with a potentially nice looking offer on the market. Phase one ends when the charm of any of the adds does not outweigh the money you are willing to sacrifice for the premium membership.
2. Phase two is the prolonged period of time when firstname.lastname@example.org spams your email with automatically generated adds with little to no relative value for your specific needs. You would check in every once in a while just to realize that the fresh flow of new and related to your search properties is but a mere gush, if existing at all.
3. One day an add will come that will make you log in and message the person on the other end immediately! It will match almost too perfectly your criteria, the price will suit your best and waiting in despair you will see, O gosh, that person has messaged you back! Of course it will be blurred out, since ‘neither you nor your contact have premium membership’. O well, the price for upgrading is quite inferior to what this person has to offer. And that’s the catch.
4. Last phase – you check the message, you read the text, you write to the actual email that the person has given you, you call the stated phone (automatic message saying that the you can text the person, because he/she is unable to take your call right now) and there it was. The scam has been successful, for now you are stuck with a premium membership for a service that has zero value for your life, the same old adds are there to greet you, no new ones coming in and email@example.com keeps spamming your email address.
5. Optional – you contact the site and ask them to explain. You get your answer 22 hours later saying in all kinds of quasi technical terms one thing and one thing only: “We tricked you and there’s nothing you can do about it”.
I don’t want my money back, I never said that on the first place. I just wanted a service that can at least get me to the viewing stage. If you read this and you got here on time and this simple step-by-step list resonates .. you know how to save some money now.
Exactly, in great detail, bottom line they are con-merchants … we found someone via the other site without paying a cent – “spareroom” …
Your advice in your conclusion applies to so many things. Well done. Thanks for sharing your story. And, thanks for following my blog. Take care, BTG
My pleasure and thanks for following me … I like to give praise and a little just criticism when it’s needed, but like you say common sense can save a world of hurt 🙂
Liked this. Thanks for the visit
My pleasure and thank you:)
Interesting ans informative postsThis will help a lot of people.And thnx for following my blog,
Hey Yummistyle, thanks for you kind words, and my pleasure, I’m happy that you’re also following me 🙂
Keep in touch, Don Charisma
Interesting post, it caught my eye as we have an empty room for the first time in years but I think I’ll keep it that way for a while longer in case someone comes home.
Thank you for following my blog
… will depend on your financial circumstances, but I’ve always found renting spare space makes sense 🙂
My pleasure and thanks for following me…
Hey there! I nominated you for the I Am Part of the WordPress Family Award. Please get the badge at http://wp.me/1Kc0N and follow the instructions!
Many thanks, very much appreciated. I’ve written my nominees here – https://doncharisma.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/doncharisma-i-am-part-of-the-wordpress-family-award/
keep in touch and thanks for following me:)
Read your post with interest Don, it reminded me of this NYTimes article I had seen earlier this year regarding users of a similar service – https://www.airbnb.com/ who ran afoul of local laws related to illegal transient hotels.
Very interesting article, thanks for bringing to my attention. I’ve used Airbnb as a guest in Budapest, and was very satisfied at saving maybe 400-750 British pounds over a couple of weeks. For what I was paying for a whole apartment I couldn’t even get a flea bitten room sharing with six or eight in a hostel. Personally I welcome the change and the money saved not paying for a crappy hotel or hostel.
I’ve never done short lets myself, so have no actual experience myself. It has always seemed a better bet to avoid having property empty for unknown periods.