After speed dating ... say hello to speed flatmating

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The Independent Online

In a world where people are willing to select a partner on the basis of a five-minute conversation, it was only a matter of time before the concept was adapted to the search for a flatmate.

Speed flatmating has come to London. In trendy bars across the capital, young professionals can now table-hop in search of soulmate who shares their passion for organising CDs in alphabetical order.

Designed for anyone who has spent an evening crossing the city only to have Norman Bates answer the door, organisers insist it is a swifter, safer way to find a like-minded person with whom to share a kitchen.

For £7.50, those with rooms to offer sit at a table while potential flatmates rotate. With a free drink to smooth the introductions, they have five minutes to size up a potential living partner's suitability. They each tick a confidential score card and, if the ticks match, each is sent contact details to arrange room viewings. Rupert Hunt, the 29-year-old founder of the spareroom.co.uk website, dreamt up the concept with his colleague Gemma Craft. They surveyed a total of 4,000 people online and asked them to rate what they looked for in a property. "The first thing is location, the second is the people they live with and the third is the price and size of the room," said Ms Craft.

While potential flatmates get just five minutes at the table, Ms Craft said, they often continued negotiations over drinks later. "Even if they don't want to share a flat, some people swap numbers. Who knows? Some people might find a flatmate or they might find a date."

Bearing in mind location is the primary concern, the events are moved around London and only deal with properties in particular postcodes. Unorthodox it may be, but at its most recent event in Tooting, it made 24 potential matches.

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