Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A RIPE TIME TO RENT IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT; Victoria Whitlock Discovers How [Pounds Sterling]10 Can Make All the Difference; THE ACCIDENTAL LANDLORD

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A RIPE TIME TO RENT IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT; Victoria Whitlock Discovers How [Pounds Sterling]10 Can Make All the Difference; THE ACCIDENTAL LANDLORD

Article excerpt

Byline: Victoria Whitlock

WHEN marketing a rental property, even right now when there's (apparently) a dire shortage of decent accommodation in London, it's still vital to get the price right. Never mind arty photos and poetic descriptions -- these might get people admiring your advert but if the rent is a smidgen too high, you won't get any takers... as I've just discovered.

Having been carried away by news reports of a mini boom in the rental market and stories of flat hunters fighting over shoe-boxes, I decided to raise the rent on a room in my property by a modest [pounds sterling]30 a month. The response? Not a single viewer. I placed adverts on Gumtree and spareroom.co.uk, which is where I usually market the rooms, but they resulted in zero enquiries.

Actually, that's not strictly true. I did get one email from a concerned father who wanted to take the room for his daughter who was coming to London from Nigeria to study. He offered to pay six months' rent up front but because he was travelling and didn't have his chequebook a colleague would send a cheque on his behalf, he said. The catch? He wanted to send me [pounds sterling]2,000 extra and after I'd cashed the cheque I was to forward the surplus to his daughter so that she could buy her flight over. Now, even though I have been known to email my bank log-in details to a man in Lithuania who pretended to be my bank manager, I wasn't quite daft enough to fall for this scam.

My adverts got lots of "hits", presumably not all of them from conmen, so I knew there were plenty of people looking for rooms in my area.

This was confirmed when easyroommate, the flatshare website, spotted my ad on spareroom and offered to waive their membership fee if I placed an ad with them too, so desperate were they for properties. "We've loads of tenants but not enough landlords," they told me. …

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