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Friday, 17 July 2015

Going From a Guest to a Host on FlatClub: Mihaela's Story

Mihaela from Switzerland had received an internship offer in Stockholm, and was looking for accommodation online. This would be her 4th time moving to a new country, so she knew it could be difficult. When she found FlatClub, the marketplace for medium term stays, she made a simple & worry-free booking for a place in Sweden that suited her perfectly.

Then, she started thinking after seeing how smoothly the transaction was handled on FlatClub; why not rent out her empty flat in Zurich to another intern while she was away? Her landlord would be happy, with payments managed & guaranteed through FlatClub - and she’d be happy, not having to pay rent on two properties at once. This is her story.

> So, what inspired you to host on our site during your time spent abroad in a FlatClub flat?
I actually had the contact of another intern from before I knew about FlatClub and, as I knew he was coming to Zurich in more or less the same period as I was going to Stockholm, I wrote him a message.

My landlady approved the sublet, and, since he also liked the apartment, the only thing left to do was to figure out how to write the contract and arrange the payments. In the meantime, he was contacted by FlatClub as well and we realized it would be the perfect solution for us.

"Why was it the perfect solution for them, you ask? Let us cut in and explain...some of the benefits on FlatClub include guaranteed payment, automated payments every month for longer stays, and Lloyd's insurance for our hosts - up to £500,000 coverage!" 

> Do you think it's a good idea for others because you will earn enough in rent money that your accommodation costs are basically covered during your internship or consultation?
My rent in Zurich is less expensive than what I found in Stockholm, but it's a huge help that I don't need to pay two rents.

> What are you most looking forward to during your stay in Stockholm? What do you recommend your guests do while they stay in Zurich?
Besides the internship and all the new things I'll learn, I'm looking forward to getting an idea about the Swedish lifestyle and to exploring the city and the surroundings.

I already gave my guest a small tour of the neighbourhood, but Zurich has a lot of other nice neighborhoods. [...] I would also recommend getting a half-tax card for public transportation and going around Switzerland for 1-day or week-end trips.

> What made you choose FlatClub over any other site to host on?
My experience with FlatClub while searching for a place to stay had a definite influence. The moment my guest proposed to make the arrangements through FlatClub, I knew it would be easy and relaxed. Many thanks to Keith and Alex, they made my search experience in Stockholm a lot less stressful. And this being the 4th time I'm moving to a different country, I do know how much of a challenge it could have been.

> Will you use FlatClub again as a guest or host?
I will definitely use FlatClub again.

Monday, 13 July 2015

What FlatClub Does in Dublin

Recently we were given the opportunity to have an on-air chat with the Dublin City FM crew. Our CCO Matt Chic was happy to answer a few questions about how we work in Dublin to help existing Dubliners make some extra euro, and new-to-the-city types find a great place to live.

Who’s FlatClub for?
Matt: We focus on the needs of the typical graduate student and young professionals; like those who are doing work placements. People who need stays between 3 to 6 months. We assist a variety of corporations with placing their employees in accommodation.

Do similar people stay together?
Matt: We do have a few examples of people staying with very similar people, but I can’t really say that’s the primary consideration of our guests.It’s a nice extra, but it’s not a big deal if they’re not all studying law.

Most of our guests are concerned with location, and price, and what the kind of amenities the accommodation has. Basic things like having access to wi-fi & laundry are very important to people who are going to be settled in for awhile, so those are a couple of the big ones.

How does FlatClub help people new to Dublin?
Matt: We have pre-vetted hosts with verified ID and verified photography - great for people who are first moving to a place, because it’s one less thing to worry about. We also help guests get educated on price expectations & transportation options in the city. It's brilliant for people who've never lived Dublin before, for example, because they go from knowing nothing to knowing enough to live there happily.

How about Irish people moving to a new location? What other cities do you work in?
Matt: We're a London based company so we do lots of work in London and other cities in the UK. We focus mostly in Europe at this time, so we have lots of accommodation in many of the European capitals. We're trying to get very good dynamic markets happening in our main cities; London, Cambridge, Dublin, Munich, and Paris. Looking to work more in Madrid. Imagine your main work & study centers of Europe, that’s where we are. We want to avoid spreading ourselves too thin.

How much does it cost - and who does it cost?
Matt: At the moment private individuals don't pay anything to work with us as hosts. We see them as a partner and the guest pays a small fee when they book.

About half the listings we have - have a best price guarantee program. It means the price they give on FlatClub is the same or cheaper as it is anywhere else. We know that it can be extremely challenging to find accommodation on the internet, and our team will assist in any way we can.

Increase in Tax Relief for Renting Out a Room in London

Great news for our London hosts! Just last year we reported on the tax-free £4250 you could earn in London by taking in a lodger,and here we are now with a super update.

You can now earn up to £7500 tax free when you sublet your place!

That means that FlatClub hosts can earn nearly £10k before being subject to any taxation on that earned income.

The UK government is taking a clear stance in support of medium term rentals - such as those we specialize in on FlatClub. Last year saw an easing of the restrictions on subletting for tenants, and now with this news we feel confident that the UK government is on our side as the marketplace for medium & short term rentals.

Why Encourage Short & Medium Term Tenancy Now
The reasoning is sharp: in a rental market that is as in-demand as London, more people are choosing to both rent out their spare rooms, and to rent those spare rooms, as an alternative to costly mortgages or long-term contracts with estate agents. When something is in scarce supply as accommodation is in London, incentivizing those that have it to share it is a clever way to go.

In addition, as mortgage rates continue to trend upwards, this extra tax-free income will also prevent many homeowners & landlords from struggling against the current.

Who Can Take Advantage of This?
Well, anyone! Specifically though, this new tax allowance is great news for “empty nesters”, those who own a family-size home but whose adult children have moved out. It’s also good news for people who are in-and-out of their own flats frequently, such as those who commute further afield for work or take on consultation jobs.

How Can I Start?
First thing, take a look at our informative page for FlatClub Hosts. That will get you started with some base information, and you can get in touch with our host onboarding team to help you get your spare room or flat up and listed on our site. We also offer free professional photography, scheduled to suit you - during daylight hours, of course.

FlatCub is particularly suitable for this news, because our bookings average far longer than other sites that specialize in ‘holiday rentals’. A booking on FlatClub is generally about 30 days or more - you’ll earn that £7500 with less hassle on FlatClub than anywhere else.

We know that this is exciting news for people with a spare bedroom - you can now turn that property into £7500 tax free income. We want to help make this a reality for as many people as possible, so get in touch with us ASAP and we can get you listed on the number one marketplace for medium term bookings.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Going on an internship? Make money with your empty apartment

Internship season is well under way, and for those of you who are taking on an internship abroad or even just across your country - we have a money-making idea. Hosting on FlatClub can be very rewarding - on average, our hosts make about £1500 per booking!

Use Your Flat to Make Money During Your Internship!
While you’re away on your internship, your room is waiting empty - and you’ll probably still have to be paying rent on it! The shame of it is that a lot of interns are faced with this dilemma: they can either continue to pay rent on their apartment in their home city, or move out and lose what they’ve established at home while they go for a temporary internship.

With FlatClub, you don’t need to do either. While you’re away, your room will still be in good use; you can find someone who needs accommodation in your city on FlatClub using our LiveDemand feature. On LiveDemand, you see who is looking for accommodation on FlatClub live - it’s sort of a reverse search engine for our hosts.

What You Should Do to Prepare
At FlatClub we offer services that will make it easier for you to rent out your property while you’re away. At a bare minimum, we recommend you take advantage of our free photography service where applicable. You may also utilize our Host Premium Services if key exchange would prove difficult for you.

Keep in mind that if you’re a private host on our site you are eligible for our £500,000 Insurance Plan. You’re also free to make use of our ‘Clubs Only’ filtered search, which means that your flat will only be visible to the members of clubs that you have chosen. For instance, you can have your flat only visible to alma mater of your university, or former co-workers.

Find Your Accommodation on FlatClub
Of course, you should also book your own accommodation on FlatClub. We have rooms across the world at various price points, so make your search today.

Want More Information on Hosting?
Take a look at our previous hosting series articles:

Friday, 5 June 2015

New Office in Armenia

FlatClub continues our phenomenal growth with the opening of our new office in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia!

We've been on the map for awhile, but now - we're on the map twice.

Say "ալլո!" to our team based in Armenia.

While we may be a bit far away from each other to share those lovely biscuits & all sit around the same desk, the spirit of camaraderie between officemates remains. After receiving this lovely portrait of the Yerevan team, the London office responded in kind.

However, that's only about 50% of the London office! We're now 20 people strong in London, with an additional team of 4 in Armenia.

Want to know more about the FlatClub team? Check us all out on our About Us page. Want to join this happy bunch? We've got a few job openings in London - take a look.

Inspired to take a medium term stay somewhere in Yerevan? We can help you find apartments in Yerevan, too.

How FlatClub Can Help Students Find Accommodation

We've not just researched to find out how we can help international students; here at FlatClub we have true, personal knowledge of the issues faced by them.

When our very own Head of Online Marketing Sandra moved to France to study abroad from her native Spain, she was facing the difficult Parisian rental marketplace all alone.

What happened?

In Sandra’s case, she sent letters to lots of places - and all of them said ‘No’. Paris has lots of students coming in, and not a lot of accommodation going around - like many large cities in the world. The only other option she had was to book a hostel for a few weeks and look for a room in that period. That, however, is a lot of hassle.

Finally, she found one that said yes, however they asked for a garant, a person residing in France with a French bank account, who is willing to 'vouch' for you and make sure that your rent is paid. That’s tough when you’re a student from another country!

This is just one example of different cities varying rental customs. Some cities require massive deposits, some cities require an additional tax to be paid for being in an ‘urban zone’, and other strange rules you may not have heard before.

This is a common situation; a lot of universities don’t offer help to international students who are going abroad. They’re expected to face the difficult task of navigating the customs of rental law & custom in foreign cities, sometimes without speaking the language. So, they end up paying a lot more than they have to - or having other issues.

How can I avoid these problems?

Landlords on FlatClub are a bit more lax - they won't require the same things that landlords operating on other platforms may request. Some of the things you won't necessarily be required to provide on FlatClub but are frequently requested elsewhere include:
  1. Background Checks
  2. Proof of Employment
  3. Bank Account Statements
  4. A Guarantor (or, Garant)
  5. Statement from Former Landlord
How do you do it?
When you find a place through FlatClub, we guarantee your payment to the host. Using our unique algorithm we're even able to guarantee proof of your 'club membership', whether that's a university or company. When a host is working with us, they feel more at ease.

There’s more, too:
  • You can book your accommodation abroad, no need to leave home!
  • You can pay in monthly installments.
  • We help you find accommodation which is within commuting distance of the place you will study, work, or intern at.
  • We protect you against scammers - all payments are processed by us.
  • You have access to reviews left by previous guests.
  • We have great marketplace specialists with expansive knowledge for each city that can help you from the moment you join FlatClub, until you find something suitable for you!
Those are some of the benefits of working with FlatClub. Any unfamiliar city to you may have unfamiliar practices & customs when it comes to short or medium term rentals. We know these inside and out, and we can help you navigate through the city like a local!

8 Tips to Turn Your Internship into a Career

We are already in the heart of the summer internship period, and you know it’s never too early to look to the future. That’s why we have written this post to give you tips on how to convert your internship into a job offer.

We’ve spoken to hundreds of interns & now we can confidently bring you the top 8 points you need to focus on this summer to make yourself invaluable.

Why do I need to know this?
With hundreds of interns passing through each company every year - with a particular spike in the summer - only a handful are able to secure permanent roles.

The internship “funnel” has become the only route to a job in many companies nowadays - offices are much more likely to hire previous interns than risk an untested person.
The main tips for converting an internship into a job are:
  • Impress as many people as possible. Cast your net wide: your line manager may not be in a position to hire you after your internship, but someone else might be. Don’t forget to treat everyone with kindness - if not just because it’s the right thing to do, because it’s also smart to leave a good impression with everyone.
  • Get to know HR to find out which parts of the company are likely to have an opportunity available when you finish your internship.
  • Attach yourself to 'key' projects so the company will want to keep you around past the end of your internship. If you are tasked with a “one-off” project, be sure to make it memorable and try to connect it to an ongoing project as well.
  • Make yourself indispensable. Take work off of other people’s backs,and make some attempts at managing projects, but ease up on managing people as that may be seen as punching above your pay grade. Show that you are worth keeping, rather than the company having to train someone up to your level.
  • Make yourself desirable. Line up other opportunities (preferably with competitors) to give yourself a stronger negotiating position at the end of your internship.
  • Show genuine interest in the work of others. If you are at all interested in the day-to-day operations of someone else at the company, express that! Ask lots of questions & show engagement, if you’re shy an email is a good way to break the ice with co-workers.
  • Ask for projects that reduce work for management. Think of it this way; what can you do to help your manager go home early? Ask for projects that will make their life easier - the easier their life is with you in it, the more they will push for you to become a permanent hire. This can go hand-in-hand with showing interest. “I see you do a lot of work with KISSmetrics - can you show me how you do that, and maybe I can take some of that off your hands?”
  • Find out what you like & excel at, and own it. The more you engage with your co-workers and find out what they do, and the more projects you take on that belonged to others, the more easily you will find out what you are particularly good at - and what you enjoy! When you find that, own it. Give an update once a week on your progress in a project that you’ve created. This makes you seem like you’re already a member of the team. 
Wait, should I be making tea?
Depends on where you’re interning! Some places it’s tea, some places it’s coffee. In all honesty though, it’s not just about making drinks for people, it’s about showing a willingness to help & blend in with the work culture in a pleasant way. Follow the lead of others in the company, and if they’re kind & do little things for each other like making tea or offering sweets, then you should do the same.

If it’s not that sort of office - perhaps it’s best to not begin your career there, anyway.

Looking for an internship in London? Take a look at our Google+ page for open positions some ideas!

More Internship Advice?

We’ve got that in spades, take a look at the following links: