Want to find some quick ways to make money from home? There are plenty of pretty easy things you can do to up your income. Some, like renting out a spare room, might be familiar, but just how do you go about it and what are the pitfalls? And don't worry, we're not going to tell you to start a blog, join a pyramid selling scheme or take online surveys for money – these, in our experience, are hard work and you won't see much return. Instead, we stick to realistic money-making ideas. Here, we tell you what you need to know.
For more things property-related, don't miss our hub page.
1. Rent out a bedroom
If you've got a spare room, it's really worthwhile considering whether you might want to rent it out. Of course, you can advertise locally (and cheaply) in a local newsagent's window for a short- or long-term, one-off rental, but if you want an income stream from your home or want to charge more for shorter stays so that you can pick and choose when to keep the house for yourself, it's worth getting your home on a rental website, such as Airbnb or HomeAway, both of which the Realhomes.com team have considerable experience of.
First things first: check with your mortgage company that what you're doing is allowed under the terms of your mortgage, and bear in mind that you'll need to let your insurance company know, too.
Want some good news? You can earn up to £7,500 a year tax-free on renting out your home – find out more from the government’s Rent a Room scheme webpage.
Here are our hard-won tips for making a room rental of any kind a success:
- Communication is key: write a guide book for renters listing everything they need to know, from noise levels to what time it's acceptable for them to come in and out of the house so that they're fully aware of what you'll be like as a landlord/lady;
- Only accept guests you're comfortable with;
- Never overbook your space – if it sleeps two, don't let a group of four persuade you to squeeze them in for extra cash, because it usually leads to twice the noise and double the damage;
- Give guests a separate cupboard for their plates, bowls, cups, food, drink in the kitchen, and personal storage space in the bathroom (if you're sharing);
- Let them use the basics, though: toilet roll, milk, tea, coffee, condiments should be fair game.
- Present them with an inventory when they arrive and check it before they leave.
- Never leave your own valuables out – preferably have a lockable room or drawer where everything from cash to laptops can be safely stored while you're out;
- Be definite about departure dates.
Creating a listing for your property usually involves filling out a description, taking and uploading photos, and setting prices and house rules. If your property is near a particular venue where a big seasonal event takes place (think: Wimbledon tennis, Manchester United home games), ensure your price rises to match the demand – you'll need to do some research with comparable listings to get this right.
Once your listing is live, you will have to monitor it and respond to questions, plus booking requests. Depending on the payment plan you choose with the rental host company you choose, you'll either pay a one-off fee per guest or a yearly plan with some commission payments. Work this out carefully in advance to maximise profit. And don't forget to factor in costs when you work out the room rate, including any extra tax or insurance you'll pay. In other words, financial homework in advance is a must.
Spare room ideas – find out what you could do with your unused space.
2. Rent out unused space
Don't have a spare room but have a garage? Or an empty attic? Or (unlikely) an empty cupboard? Room under the bed? Believe it or not, people will pay to stash their stuff in other people's homes over a storage unit.
Why? Well, the prices are competitive, they might be lucky to find someone just up the road who has room to store (instead of trekking to a storage unit on an industrial estate miles away), and for a quick solution to a short-term problem (people at the bottom of the hill protecting the contents of their garage from the predicted flood, for example), it's not a bad idea.
Again, you can advertise locally on Facebook groups, or in the local newsagent's window, or try Storemates, which puts storage space-rich homeowners with space-starved ones.
Storing your stuff? You'll need help with buying the best storage – our hub page covers everything you need, or you can buy the best storage boxes at the best prices below.
3. Rent out your driveway
If you live in a busy area where parking is at a premium or, again, you live near a sports or music stadium or even an underground station, railway station or airport, but you either don't use your car much, don't have a car or just want to make some money, renting your driveway out is a real possibility.
You can sign your home up to a company like Just Park. A driveway within walking distance of Heathrow Airport in London, for example, goes for around £100 per week. That's a possible £5,000 a year.
4. Rent out your stuff
Got a lawnmower languishing in the shed? A camera you hardly ever use? A bike you bought with great resolve but barely use? Of course, you could sell them, but if they're something you use every now and then, you could look at renting them out. For large items, such as ladders, lawnmowers and bikes, it's the perfect rental item for people who simply don't have the storage space at home for their own.
We like FatLama and StreetLend, but advertising locally on Facebook or Gumtree is another good way to go (and cheaper). Bear in mind though that companies that specialise in rental of your stuff can offer lenders' insurance; when you do it off your own back, you're risking getting something back damaged or not getting it back at all.
However, if you're in the market for a new lawnmower, it's a good way to get the money back on it. Ahem, today's best lawnmower deals, below.
5. Declutter and sell what you don't want
We're big fans of decluttering. Marie Kondo's tidying up technique and Margareta Magnusson's Swedish Death Cleaning decluttering method (yup, you read that right) are both favourites of ours. Of course, both of these are about helping you have a good clear out (and they work), but selling your stuff is a whole other skill.
Our advice (also hard-won) is this:
- Put everything you want to sell in one place and take photos of each item from various angles (on your phone is easiest);
- Note down each item's measurements and any care label info;
- Set a realistic price if you want to get rid of things quickly;
- Go onto Facebook or Gumtree (or similar) and get them on local buyer groups;
- No joy? Try auction sites like eBay and Shpock, or MusicMagpie for unwanted music, games and tech;
- Bear in mind that auction sites will take a proportion of what you make.