Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Evening Standard
Evening Standard
India Block

"Shocking" advert for a room for rent demanding free babysitting reveals extent of London rental crisis

A room for rent advertised online by a would-be live-in landlord in Clapham has caused outrage for the conditions advertised.

The post on flatmate finder platform SpareRoom originally advertised for a room at £400 a month from Monday to Friday only, with the tenant expected to provide three hours of childcare each weeknight.

At weekends the tenant would need to find another place to stay unless they could prove to their landlord that they were “respectful of privacy”.

“We are an Italian family looking for a student/au pair preferred Monday to Friday,” read the listing.

“We are looking for someone who can help regularly with babysitting 3 hours per day 3-6pm. Our children are very sweet but very young 1-3 years old so we are looking for a calm, clean and organised person/no party.”

The room measures just nine square metres and was photographed with only an unmade single daybed and a wardrobe as the visible furniture.

Following negative comments online, the room was re-listed as a weekday rental with the childcare element removed – at £600 a month.

“It’s shocking that in the current housing market home owners feel arrogant enough to advertise a room to live with so many caveats on what the renter can do,” Dan Wilson Craw, deputy chief executive of Generation Rent told Homes & Property.

“It’s right that they’ve removed the childcare requirement but still appalling that the room is not available on weekends,” he added.

“What’s most concerning is that it appears the room is available for a minimum of 12 months. Any renter considering this is likely to face changing circumstances so it would be unfair to ask them to sign away 12 months of rent when there is such a high risk the arrangement wouldn’t work out.”

A spokesperson for the National Residential Landlords Association said: “Whilst we are unable to comment on the specifics of this situation, it is vital that all rule concerning lodger landlords and tenants and the employment of au pairs are strictly adhered to.”

According to UK employment law, au pairs should be treated as a member of the family that they live with and offered free room and board, plus an allowance of £90 a week, in return for 30 hours a week of light housework and childcare including “a couple of evenings” babysitting.

Residential nannies who live with the family and share meals and leisure activities are exempt from hourly minimum wage requirements in the UK, but still require clear contracts for their job requirements.

Although this particular advertisement has garnered concern online, it is far from an isolated incident.

Homes & Property has found multiple advertisements on Spareroom charging “reduced” rent in return for babysitting expectations.

A room in Finsbury Park is being listed at £500 a month plus babysitting the landlord’s nine-year-old daughter.

“The arrangement is simple, you get a very cheap room (£500 no bills) in a great house in exchange for 1-2 nights babysitting per week, so that I am able to go out every now and then and my daughter's routine isn't disrupted by babysitters she doesn't know,” reads the listing

“This was incredibly popular last time we offered it,” it continues. The deposit for the room is set at £750.

A family in Greenwich is offering a room at £250 a month for babysitting and managing the school run.

“We are looking for someone to live with us at reduced rent in exchange for babysitting,” reads the listing.

“We require someone to do 3 mornings of childcare (7.30-9.00am, including a school drop off in Blackheath, the days can be flexible from week-to-week) and 2 evenings of babysitting (not weekends).”

In Mill Hill, a single room is listed for £100 a month in return for extensive childcare responsibilities.

“I am looking to find someone who is happy to babysit my sweet little six-year-old girl for 4 nights a week,” reads the listing.“I need someone who would be home before 7pm in time for me to go to work. I would give my daughter dinner and get her ready for bed before leaving. She is very independent and can change into her uniform in the morning. All you need to do is make her porridge for breakfast and drop her off at school (@ 8.50am). You would also be helping around the flat.”

London rents have risen dramatically over the past year.

Figures from SpareRoom show that tenants can now expect to pay £1,000 a month for a room in a flatshare in 43 of the capital’s 117 postcodes.

Meanwhile Londone homeowners with spare rooms are increasingly turning to taking in lodgers in an attempt to alleviate the cost of their mortgages and bills during the cost-of-living crisis.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.