Need a roommate? Sparrow reviews them for you

Airbnb has changed the landscape when it comes to vacation property rentals, and now there’s a new website that could do the same for finding a roommate to live with.

Tessia Hill of Scarborough, Ont. rents a house and said that with inflation and other rising costs, she asked her landlord for permission to rent a room in the house to help her earn some extra income.

“I was looking for a roommate because the cost of living is so high now and people have to do what they have to do to survive,” Hill said.

Hill’s landlord accepted her proposal and she used Sparrow website to find a roommate, an international student who is happy with her stay at Hill.

“She’s a great student, she cooks, she’s quiet, she’s here for school and is mostly alone,” Hill said.

Sparrow is a website that received $500,000 in funding from the federal government to address the current housing shortage in Canada.

Sparrow could help renters find houses and apartments at more affordable prices. The average rent is around $750 per month, depending on the house and location. The website also performs credit and background checks and tries to match people based on their compatibility.

“If you think of someone who has spare rooms, it could be pensioners, empty nests, old people. It could be someone aspiring to be a first-time buyer and struggling to find their first home,” said Oren Singer, CEO and co-founder of Sparrow.

Singer said with the lack of housing options and rising prices, it’s a platform that lets you rent out empty rooms in your home.

Sparrow estimates there are up to 5 million empty rooms in Ontario and 12 million more across the country. Singer said it was an easy way for owners to earn extra cash.

“If we can unlock some of that housing supply and help people rent those spare rooms, we can find a lot of spare rooms for people and we can lower the cost of home ownership for a lot of people,” Singer said.

The website can also help combat loneliness, as Singer said studies have shown loneliness among Canadians has increased during the pandemic.

There is a minimum of two months that a person must stay. The landlord must pay a one-time fee of one month’s rent when a tenant signs up for a year. Half a month’s rent if they commit for 6 months and a quarter of a month if they commit for 2 months.

The website might even help create lasting friendships.

“I had to clean the guest room, but I thought I was ready for that,” Hill said.

Hill says that in her case, the two roommates she lived with became good friends and helped her pay her bills.

Sparrow encourages those who decide to rent out part of their home to check with their insurance company to see if additional coverage may be needed.

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