Nine nifty ways to make money from your home

Turn spare space into cash

It’s always a treat to find a few quid down the back of the sofa. But did you know you could have thousands more pounds hidden elsewhere in your home? Thanks to the rise of the sharing economy, there are lots of clever ways your bricks and mortar could help you take home (excuse the pun!) a tidy sum.

While it took off with companies such as Airbnb, there are now hundreds of services that let you sell and share whatever you own. That’s everything from spare rooms and parking spaces to empty cupboards and cars – even your bike in the garage. Here are a few smart ways to get started and help make your home work harder for you. 

1. Could your front room be famous?

You might be surprised to hear that you don’t need a huge, fancy home to register it as a filming location. Think of the films, TV series and ads you see – they often feature everyday family homes, as well as quirky or period properties. That’s because a lot of the time, they really are somebody’s house or flat.

Search online for a location agency – try something like ‘list my home as a film set’. Most agencies ask you to apply with lots of clear photos of your home (decent smartphone pics will do), and then they’ll decide if yours could be in demand. Going rates vary but you could get a few thousand pounds for a TV advert.

2. Cash to care for somebody else’s clutter

Too much stuff and nowhere to put it – talk about a 21st century problem. But if you’ve got space to spare, there could be someone nearby who’d pay to use it. Think students who need to store stuff over summer, people moving house or anyone with more hobbies than time.

Whether it’s a huge garage, spare room or just a few humble cupboards, companies such as Stashbee and Storemates let you advertise your space to people who need it. So, how much cash can you make? Typical prices range from £38-a-month for 36 sq ft in Bristol (part of a spare bedroom) to £206-a-month for more than 200 sq ft in Leeds (a whole large room). Not bad for empty space.

3. Room for one more? You could get a lodger

If you’ve got a spare bedroom, why not get a lodger? Depending on the going rate for your area, you could make hundreds of pounds a month. And if you earn less than £7,500 a year from the arrangement, the Government’s Rent a Room scheme means you won’t have to declare it or pay tax on it. 

4. Right place, right time, right room for rent

If you’ve got an empty bed in your home in a big city or touristy town, it’ll probably be in demand thanks to the rise of Airbnb.

Everyone wants a place to stay when Wimbledon or the Edinburgh Festival are on but it’s often the same for smaller local events – such as big sports matches, concerts, theatre shows and annual fairs. If you don’t want to wash sheets and towels every week, keep it seasonal instead. Live close to the coast? Try a summer let. You could even rent out your entire home while you sofa-surf with friends or family – they’ll likely deserve a cut of your earnings though.

Even better, the Rent a Room scheme applies to Airbnb lets too.

5. Put a premium on your parking space

Did you know the average car is 28% bigger than it would have been 50 years ago? But that’s not the only reason why parking is harder than ever. With many more cars on the road, it can be tricky to find a space at all. Happily, the sharing economy has an answer to this too. If you’ve got an empty driveway or parking space in a handy location, you could make a few hundred pounds a month renting it out. Find out more details at companies such as JustPark or Your Parking Space where you can set your price, confirm bookings and get paid.

6. The road to riches? Rent out your car

The average car or van is in use just 4% of the time, according to the RAC. If yours is sitting pretty outside for days on end, you could earn by letting others borrow it – a fast-moving way to make money work for you.

Of course, you’ll want to be sure that drivers are safe and trustworthy – so platforms such as hiyacar and Turo offer vetting, verification and insurance. How much cash could your motor make? It depends on the model, but a 2011 Honda Jazz in regular use could net you almost £500 a month.

7. Sell solar power (if you own your home)

You probably can’t fit a wind turbine in your back garden. But could you fit solar panels on your roof? The idea is to generate your own energy, which means low – or no – bills. Plus, the chance to get paid for selling energy back to the grid. Oh, and the warm, fuzzy feeling of doing something good for the planet.

Unfortunately, there are caveats. First, you’ll face hefty upfront costs and you can’t make nearly as much money as you could a few years ago. As things stand, it could take years to recoup what you pay for installation. That means it’s only really a goer for people who own their homes and plan to stay in them for a long time. Find out more about the Smart Export Guarantee and how it could help you sell excess energy to the National Grid.

8. Share what’s inside your home too

From sewing machines to sanders and camper vans to cameras, if you’ve got something useful, you might be able to lend it to people in your area – for a fee, of course.

For filming, DJ and electronic equipment, try Fat Llama. If you’ve got camping equipment, have a look at Tentshare. There’s also Camptoo for campervans and motorhomes. If you’ve got a bike gathering dust in the garage, you could put it on Spinlister. And if your party dresses are your pride and joy, keep an eye out for Loanhood, launching soon.

9. Be a stellar second-hand seller

Thriftiness is firmly back in fashion. And that means loads of us are scouring sites such as Depop and Vinted to grab a pre-loved bargain. Clearing out your wardrobe is an obvious way to raise cash, especially as trends come around again so fast now. Sports and streetwear brands are always a winner, as are good-quality coats and bags.

So how you do become a stellar seller? The secret is to describe your items as if there’s no photo. Lots of detail means you’ll hit more search keywords and would-buyers will feel more confident about hitting ‘purchase’.

A quick note on tax

If you earn money using any of these tips, the taxman might need to know about it. Almost all of them (with the exception of selling energy back to the grid) are considered to be property or trading income. You get a tax-free allowance of £1,000 a year for each of these types of income (or £7,500 if you’re letting a spare bedroom). But if you make more than that, you’ll need to declare it. Find more about the allowances to see how they affect you.