'You almost have to perform to find a place': Meet the group making renting easier for women

Video and words by Aspel Brown, ITV News' Here's the Story

Renting in London is never an easy process, the expense, the search and the possibility of having to live with complete strangers.

Two friends, who met at university, are trying to make the task easier and safer for women.

Rachel Moore and Mia Gomes run a regular social club ‘The Girlies Guide’ to help women match with future housemates.

Recent studies have shown a widening "gender rent gap" with women forking out more of their earnings than men on accommodation.

According to SpareRoom, 85% of women spend more than 30% of their salary on rent each month, compared to just 77% of men.Further data from the flat share site reveals that for every one room available in London, there are seven hopeful renters.

With women paying more of their money on somewhere to live, how do they make sure it’s with someone they actually get on with - especially in an increasingly competitive market.

Rachel Moore and Mia Gomes met at university and now live together. Credit: ITV News

Rachel and Mia started ‘The Girlies Guide’ around two years ago, inviting young women to join them at cocktail bars and to sample some of what London has to offer while making new friends.

They’ve since branched out into housemate hunting, out of frustration for how hard the process can be.

“When you're on different websites, there is that kind of concern that you don't know who these people are," Mia explained.

“You don't know if you’re going to gel with them, so that's why we set up these in-person events".

Women looking for a room are given purple wristbands and women looking to fill a room are given pink wristbands. Credit: ITV News

Roughly once a month, they hire out a venue, women sign up online and are then added to a group chat to mix before the mixer.

When people arrive at the event, they pop on a wristband indicating if they’re looking for a roommate or to be one.

They are then free to work their way around the room which is loosely divided by each area in London.The pair don’t believe women have it worse off but think there’s a real risk agreeing to move in with strangers found online, Mia told ITV News: “We don't think it's harder for women to find a house in London but, unfortunately, there is that added safety element that women need to consider.”The two-year journey to get their events running hasn’t been without criticism, with misogynistic comments posted online.

“A lot of people [have been] questioning why women are even wanting to go into house shares rather than settling down and why they're focusing on their careers,” Mia added.

Despite the sexists comments, the group has built up a loyal community online with more than 50,000 followers across Instagram and TikTok.

One of those followers is 21-year-old Serena Joyce who needed to move to London for work.

Serena Joyce turned to 'The Girlies Guide' as she felt it was too hard to find a flatmate on Facebook

Although she wasn’t in a hurry to find somewhere to live, Serena wanted to feel less alone during the “daunting” process of moving.

Serena recalled: “You can go on a Facebook group and find a spare room in a house where there's already people there.

“But for me, I wanted to actually find a group of friends that I could meet and know that I was going to get along with them.”

She moved in with her roomie Millie around four months ago, shortly after signing up.

The two hit it off and even got together before the organised mixer being held in Clapham.

“Coming into London as a girl on your own is a little bit daunting and it's nice to know that there are communities out there that can support you,” she added.

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