Update, Aug. 1: One New Yorker won’t have to pay rent for the next year after winning a check for 12 months of rent from the roommate matching site SpareRoom.

SpareRoom’s Live Rent Free for a year competition closed in July after 16,000 entries. The winner, 24-year-old Emma Sandler, was selected at random and the roommate matching site was able to get some insider details from her friends: Sandler is totally into the British royal family.

Not only did Sandler get surprised while having dinner with a friend at Club A Steakhouse in Midtown (SpareRoom picked up the bill) with a check for $12,924, but the check was presented by a Prince Harry look-a-like.

“I can’t believe it – it’s so exciting! Once the initial jitters died down, I felt such a sense of relief when I thought about the impact that winning this contest will have on my year moving forward,” Sandler explained. “It’s really important to me to be financially independent, so to not have to worry about rent and be able to invest and save something that can grow is amazing.


“I’ve used SpareRoom to find roommates for my apartment previously – and actually just found two new roommates on SpareRoom for my new lease – so I feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity to win. While I do plan to save and invest, I might buy some new furniture and spoil my new roommate’s cat, Kimchi, first!”

While the annual competition is over, you can still win rent for a month with the monthly Live Rent Free competition. Find out more here or follow SpareRoom on social media.

Original article:

SpareRoom, an online service that brings roommates together, held a contest last year offering two applicants the chance to live in a $8 million apartment in the West Village for $1 a month.

Now, CEO Rupert Hunt wants to pay your rent at the apartment of your choosing for a year. You don’t even have to move!

The Live Rent Free contest runs through mid-July and is open to everyone, according to SpareRoom, and the winner – someone with a roomie, of course – can spend the money however he or she wants. Would you rather travel than pass the green to your landlord? Totally OK. Your landlord might prefer you pay up instead of playing in Palau, but the contest is a blind drawing, so you are free to decide how to spend or save the bounty.

“Not everyone wants to live in Manhattan, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t deserve a chance to follow their dreams,” Hunt said. “That’s why, instead of launching another search for new roommates, I’m going to extend the opportunity across the U.S. in the hope that living rent-free can make someone else’s dream come true.”

Hunt is in the final few weeks of his time with his roommates Cyrus Schenck and Jacob Castaldi before he heads back to the United Kingdom.

Rupert Hunt and roommates

Hunt said having two American roommates, entrepreneurs like him who "work hard and play hard," helped him adjust to life in New York City and wade through American slang.

“The benefits of having two great friends, I’ve had a lot of lessons on the culture difference in our language,” Hunt said with a laugh. “I was talking about one thing, and they thought we were talking about something else.”

Schenck and Castaldi used their time with Hunt to work on their businesses. Schenck is the founder of RENOUN Skis, and Castaldi is the co-founder of Attingo/Ivory Ella.

“This is one of the best things about it,” Hunt explained. “It would just be a random conversation, but we all ended up working from the apartment. It felt like a startup office – if one of us would have an issue, we’d all be brainstorming.”

Hunt said using his own roommate-finding service affirmed what he learned in London, where SpareRoom began. By using videos instead of messages to “meet” prospective roommates, the process was quicker and more accurate.

“With video, it’s like ‘Oh, you’re exactly how I imagined,’” Hunt said.

To enter the Live Rent Free contest, visit http://www.spareroom.com/liverentfree/, and earn extra entries by sharing the competition.

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