Mother rents out London room for £400pm but tenant must 'babysit children everyday and move out on weekends'

28 February 2024, 10:20 | Updated: 28 February 2024, 13:11

The original Spare Room listing has been altered
The original Spare Room listing has been altered. Picture: SpareRoom
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

A mother is facing a backlash after making daily babysitting one of the conditions of renting a room for £400 a month in south London.

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The listing stated that an Italian family were looking for a live-in tenant to babysit their "very sweet" children at their Clapham property for three hours a day from Monday to Friday.

It meant the tenant would then have to have found their own place to stay on the weekend. That's unless they were the "right person", who would have been "considered" for the full week.

The listing was up on Spare Room for £400 a month, though has since been altered following online criticism.

It has now been listed for £600 a month after being removed by Spare Room, without the requirement to babysit, though tenants will still have to find weekend accommodation elsewhere.

The new description reads: "Hi, we are renting out a room in our family house. You will have a double room and bathroom. Living room and kitchen are shared. We are looking for someone very clean, organised and respectful."

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The original listing
The original listing. Picture: SpareRoom

Typical au pair-style agreements often involve the babysitter moving into the property, becoming integrated with the family, having rent covered and being given a set allowance every month.

However, the original listing has been subject to intense criticism online.

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"[The landlord] obviously considered the £200 difference a 'wage'. This, somehow, is worse (and I bet you'll be left with the little cherubs anyway," one person wrote on Reddit.

Another said: "It never fails to amaze me how people will cheap out on paying people to look after their most precious possessions-ie their own children."

The new listing on Spare Room
The new listing on Spare Room. Picture: Spare Room

It comes amid growing horror at the state of the rental market, particularly in major UK cities such as London and Manchester.

Figures show that the average rent in London is now £2,119 per month, a 6.4% growth compared with the last 12 months.

Meanwhile, the average rent across the country is now £1,220 per month after an 8.3% growth in the last year.

Read More: London two-bedroom home on sale for £1.1million that's 'not even as wide as a London Underground tube tunnel'

Read More: 'I'm moving 20 miles away from my dream home because my landlord is increasing my rent by £600 - I'm devastated'

There are fears that rising rents are pushing prospective tenants into compromising situations in a bid to keep their monthly outgoing down, with particular concern for the state of some London properties.

Freedom of Information requests sent to all councils in London found that 438 homes had been identified with category one hazards relating to damp and mould in the year to March 2022.

Meanwhile, Spare Room allows property owners to list bedrooms on the site for rent, allowing tenants to move in with people who already live in the house, which is often cheaper than living alone.

A spokesperson for Spare Room told LBC: "We review each of these ads on a case by case basis, factoring in the help requested, the hours involved, and the rent amount.

"On this occasion, after taking these things into account, we decided to remove the ad.

"Ads with discounted rent in exchange for help around the house do come up from time to time and they can work well for both sides if the setup is suitable.

"The advertiser has now re-listed the room, removing the childcare element. They’ve offered the room Monday to Friday, which is nothing new and is reasonably common when people are taking in lodgers, particularly in London.

"With so many people now working in the office on a hybrid basis, having somewhere to stay during the week, then going home for the weekend, can work well for both the lodger and the person offering the room."

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