Your home is your castle, but it's also likely to be your most expensive ever purchase. With many of us feeling the pinch, here are some clever ways to make your house work harder for you and actually bring in some cash.
As with any form of additional income, you should seek professional tax advice about declaring this income to HMRC, and also investigate with your local council whether you need any specific planning or change of use permissions. You should also check with your mortgage company and home insurance provider if any special restrictions apply.
Welcome occasional guests with Air BnB
Since it was founded in 2008, Air Bnb's rise has been phenomenal. Providing reasonably priced and interesting accommodation to travellers tired of the hotel experience, and allowing property owners the opportunity to earn some income from their otherwise empty spare room.
There are over 2million rentals listed on Air BnB now, with people sharing their whole house if they travel away a lot, a spare room, a camper van on their driveway, even their back garden as a tent pitch.
It can be a great way to meet people from other countries and cultures. Most guests will expect some kind of local information, but you can simply put together a folder of tourist attractions, local restaurants, taxi firms and contact numbers.
The company offers a host guarantee of £600,000 so you're covered should anything go wrong. Guests also have feedback ratings, so you can check them out first before letting them into your home.
Using Air BnB's calculations, my spare double ensuite room could be worth around £900 per month.
Long-term -rent your spare room
Under the government's Rent a Room Scheme, homeowners can earn up to £4,250 per year tax free. Seen as a way to help the housing crisis, people are encouraged to open up their homes to lodgers, and can enjoy the money made without being liable to tax. After this year, the threshold is expected to rise to £7,000 so there's even more potential to earn from your home. Even if you're a tenant, you can still participate in this scheme with your landlord's permission.
One of my family members has successfully done this, renting out her spare room, en suite and access to the kitchen to work colleagues, to fund renovations for the rest of the house.
Rooms must be furnished under the scheme. It's advisable to draw up a tenancy agreement and secure references if you want to organise it yourself, otherwise use a company such as Spare Room to take care of the details for you.
Take in language students
If perhaps you don't like the idea of a long-term rental, them maybe language students are the answer. This is something my own parents did when I was younger, taking in students from the United Arab Emirates and Oman. It was a great way to learn about different cultures and many of the students remained friends, sending gifts back, writing and visiting for years to come.
There are many language schools, colleges and universities around the UK looking to host students for anywhere between a week over the summer, to six months. You may even find sports students looking for accommodation during exchanges and tournaments.
Typically you'll be expected to provide breakfast, and some arrangements require and evening meal too, so you will be welcoming this person into your family as well as your home.
Blogger Anya Harris from Older Single Mum is an old-hand at hosting language students and has this advice:
'I live in a town full of English Language schools. They pay for families to host some of the foreign students who attend for anything from one week to six months. They come from all over the world and the fee varies as much as they do - £70-£120 per week depending on which school you're registered with. The idea is to help them integrate into the English culture and they are supposed to spend time with the family. I provide breakfast and evening meals and although it's quite a commitment it's relatively easy income. They are always extra desperate for host families over the summer so it is a good way to boost your income even if only then. My kids practise their languages and play football or Uno with them. Once you all get to know each other and they realise how cross you get if they don't let you know when they're not coming home for dinner, you can all tick along nicely for quite a few quid!'
Contact your local language school and look out for adverts in the local papers looking for hosts.
Rent your home office space
|Image credit: The Telegraph|
If you don't fancy the idea of having to be sociable with strangers in your house at the weekends and evenings, then why not consider the growing trend of renting your home out as office space. With more and more people 'working from home' and the ever increasing cost of office rental, an innovative way to work is at someone else's home. As a work-from-home freelancer myself, I can see the attraction in this. You're free from the distractions at home - how easy is it to think 'I'll just put a wash on...I'll just tidy the kitchen...' and all too easily hours have gone by when you should be working. It's also good to get a distinction between home and work, and lots of people miss the idea of actually going out to work. Some people prefer somewhere a bit smarter to meet their prospective clients or don't have room to host a meeting at home. Or maybe they'd simply like to mix with other home-workers and have more chance to network and communicate with people during work.
Companies Vrumi and Space Hop have sprung up to fit this gap and home-owners can rent their space out during office hours, when perhaps they're out themselves at work, and still have their homes to themselves in the evenings. Office space hoppers typically pay between £7.50- £15 each per day to rent.
Hire your house as a film set
How do you fancy seeing your living room on the big screen or on the latest BBC drama? Companies such as Film Locations and Shoot Factory hook up home-owners and film production crews and photographers looking for shoot locations.
Generally, those the most in demand are within the M25 area. You should also be able to offer plenty of parking for the film crew, and ideally have good natural light. Expect the crew to completely take over your house while they are using it, they may remove furniture, move personal items, change the decor, but you should have a contract in place to state that everything will be left as it was found.
You don't necessarily need an uber-cool show home either, TV dramas and films need access to all kinds of properties, so you may be surprised.
Rent your loft
If you don't fancy house guests at all, you could rent out your attic, garage or shed for storage space. With more and more apartment living, people doing loft conversations and turning their garages into living spaces, storage is becoming a premium for a lot of people. They may have a treasured LP collection, baby gear they want to hang on til the next arrival, or files of important paperwork. A traditional storage facility in a warehouse may be too large, too expensive or too inconvienient, so more and more people are renting space from nearby home-owners.
Storemates matches home-owners with spare space with those looking to store items. You can rent a few square feet in your box room, your entire attic, shed or other outbuildings.
Loft space in my local are is up for rent at around £18 per month, which if it's currently sitting empty, is a nice little earner. You could earn around £50 for your garage.
Store mates looks after advertising your space, contracts, insurance and even has downloadable storage labels for your 'tenant'. They charge a 15% fee.
Rent your driveway
If you want to keep your front door firmly closed, another option is renting out your driveway or parking space.
If you live near a rail station, airport, sporting stadium or music venue, then your driveway could be a little gold mine.
Check out the cost of a weekly parking season ticket at your rail station, and undercut that you could be on to a winner.
Use a reputable company who will advertise your space free of charge, offer template contracts and help in any disputes. You could try Just Park or Your Parking Space. My own driveway which is a five minute walk from our train station, could be advertised for around £50 per month, per car. Considering the station car park charges £96, that's a good deal to the customer too, and their car is likely more secure with me!
Advertising on your house
|Image Credit: Right Move|
This final suggestion won't be for everyone. You're likely to need a gable-end wall in a high traffic area, but if your location is suitable and you're happy to have an advertising hoarding erected on the side of your house, you could be quids in. You'll also need to obtain planning consent which can sometimes be tricky, but you could earn yourself up to around £1,000 per annum. Granted, it's doesn't make your home look beautiful, but once your inside, you can't see it!
If you think your house might be suitable, contact a reputable advertising agency who'll make a site visit before going about securing the correct permissions, and brand bookings. Try Prime Site or Ad Site Management.