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A new renting platform is bringing Londoners together through surprise pineapples

PUBLISHED: 17:06 02 December 2016 | UPDATED: 16:18 05 December 2016

Londoners have been delighted by surprise pineapple deliveries

Londoners have been delighted by surprise pineapple deliveries

Archant

Move over Airbnb, a new peer-to-peer rental marketplace Unlease has come to town - and they're bringing pineapples.

The renting platform has been making people smile via the medium of random fruitThe renting platform has been making people smile via the medium of random fruit

Has anyone in your office received a mysterious festive pineapple hand delivered to their desk this week?

As part of their #smallerworld campaign, London’s new peer-to-peer renting platform Unlease has been organising surprise deliveries of the exotic fruit bedecked with tinsel for extra holiday season cheer.

They’re hoping to bring people together through the gift of giving joy – and a fair bit of bemusement.

The campaign has proved popular, with 700 pineapple deliveries selling out in just 5 hours.

Sisters and South End Green resident Nicola and Roxanne Alexander both work for the Shoreditch start-up that’s matching people with a room to spare with those looking for a short term renting solution.

“All our friends were getting squeezed out of London due to rising rents,” says Nicola Alexander. “The whole city was turning into a hotel.”

“We really want Londoners to be able to live in London. We want to be part of the solution, not the problem.”

For South African occupational psychologist and managing consultant Bianca Pitt, having the option to trial an area in a new city – in this case Hampstead – eased the process of relocating. It also helped her avoid falling into the classic expat trap of ending up living surrounded by fellow South Africans.

“I was looking at areas in London and was so unsure about where to stay,” she says. “Through the personalised assistance of the Unlease team and their platform I was introduced to Hampstead.

“I wouldn’t have otherwise been introduced to such a wonderful area because most South Africans tend to live around areas like Clapham. I was so lucky to find a room in an amazing Hampstead apartment for a few months, which has made my London experience unbelievable. I am also a regular at the Hampstead Market nowadays!!!).”

With the gig economy booming and more and more people going freelance long term people need a renting situation that’s as flexible as their job.

Often renters or small scale landlords can’t afford to cover the rent of an empty room, but entering into an informal contract via Facebook or Gumtree can leave both parties vulnerable.

Through Unlease hosts can rent out a room for between one and four months at a time. They handle everything from taking professional photos of the room to attract bookings to holding the deposit until 24 hours after the guest has checked out.

In return for 8 per cent of the profit hosts make on the room they offer 24/7 customer support to hosts and guests.

The system is designed to be less high-pressure than Airbnb. There’s no impetus to host guests or use rooms as little more than hotels. Instead guests stay for 1 – 4 months, contributing to rent and household chores.

It’s also an attractive option for people who travelling around the world who want to stop and stay in London and benefit from the community of a house share or a homestay rather than live out of a hostel.

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