RentARoom - helping tenants stay in their homes

A digital room-renting solution, that is designed to make it easier for housing tenants and homeowners to afford their rents and mortgages, is being rolled out after a successful pilot saw its host platform used by more than 2,300 landlords and 35,000 tenants.

RentARoom puts people who are keen to let out a room in their property in touch with individuals who are just looking for a room to rent. This helps reduce time-consuming and costly customer contact for housing associations and local authorities. 

The system is designed to help public sector housing tenants who are struggling to pay increased rents - through, for example, under-occupation (the “bedroom tax”) - or homeowners who want to make mortgage repayments easier to meet. It is especially beneficial for people under-35 – the group most impacted by welfare reforms – who are looking for somewhere to live. A Government initiative means that individual homeowners can earn up to £4,250 a year, tax-free.

Built by Kirklees Council-owned technology developer, LookingLocal, LetsHelpYou is a free service that was piloted by five local authorities in West Yorkshire, including Kirklees, in 2012. Outcomes indicated properties standing vacant for shorter periods,and because all advertised rents are compared to the relevant housing benefit amount, those in receipt of the benefit can find a place they can afford, resulting in lower eviction rates.

Programme Director of LookingLocal, Guy Giles said: “LookingLocal has pioneered the push to helping people rent through self-serve, digital solutions as they search for affordable accommodation.  By removing intermediaries RentARoom offers a more streamlined service by bringing the two sides together, saving time and money for hosts, lodgers housing associations and local authorities.”

RentARoom’s development has been part-funded by the Department for Work and Pensions to aid the transition to Universal Credit and the Local Housing Allowance.  LookingLocal solutions promote inclusion by being accessible across devices, including digital TV (through Virgin and Sky) and smartphone apps, allowing users to look for property from the comfort of their own sofas.  

More information on RentARoom is available from Irene Zdziebko .