Looking for extra cash? Put that spare space at home to work for you

From unused rooms to empty driveways, Chiara Cavaglieri offers hard-up homeowners five easy ways to turn a profit from their bricks and mortar
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The Independent Online

Many people view their homes as the most substantial debt they'll ever have – but properties can also be their biggest assets, and not just in the price they will fetch on the market.

With well over a million Britons in negative equity and countless others unable to remortgage to a better deal, it's understandable that many feel down about their properties at present – but there are ways to turn your home from a financial millstone to a nice little earner.

Take in a lodger

One of the easiest and most popular ways to make cash from your home is to rent out a spare bedroom and it would appear many of you agree, with the number of lodgers tripling to just shy of one million in the past year, according to new research from Abbey Mortgages.

Rooms can be advertised, free, on sites such as Crashpadder.com and SpareRoom.com and the rewards for sacrificing space can be substantial, with the average UK room rent at £393 per month, or £4,716 per year. As an added incentive, the Government's Rent a Room scheme allows you to make up to £4,250 by letting a room in your family home without paying tax.

If you're wary about having a full- time lodger, try MondaytoFriday.co.uk, a website designed for people who need to rent a place away from home during the working week only. It's ideal for contract workers needing a place to stay for a short time, or those with a new job not wanting or able to move home yet, or simply for people who are commuting too far and need a break from time to time.

It costs £29.95 to advertise a room on MondaytoFriday for three months. The site's founder, Judy Niner, says: "In terms of those offering the rooms, it suits people who do want to earn a bit of extra money, with the tax break, but don't want someone moving in hook line and sinker."

Turn your home into a B&B

Anyone lucky enough to have several spare rooms at their disposal may want to take things a step further and set up a small B&B in their home. This isn't necessarily as daunting as it sounds and can be a great earner, with many charging anything from £30 to £100 per night. It will, however, require a great deal of time and effort. Thorough research is essential and if your home isn't in a suitable location, don't bother. Factor in all the potential costs before starting up the business – such as redecorating, advertising and increased household bills.

There are also the various licences, business rates and planning permission to organise. If you plan to serve food, for example, your local environmental health department will need to be informed. Insurance is yet another issue, from public liability to extra cover on your home contents and buildings insurance.

Although larger B&B conversions will require specialist business insurance, you may well find that for small B&Bs your current home insurance policy will suffice. There will, however, be conditions imposed due to the additional risk. Esure, for example, insists that the main policyholder remains living in the property and that a fire certificate is obtained.

Cast your home as a film set

Allowing a film crew into your home for a few days is an exciting and lucrative way to make some extra cash.

"You'd be surprised how much you can make from allowing a film crew into your home," says Jasmine Birtles, founder of Moneymagpie.com. "You could be paid £1,000 a day or more if your house is particularly distinctive, large or historic."

Ordinary homes are also soughtafter, she adds, though usually only if they're not too far from the main film-making cities, such as London, Manchester and Bristol. Rates vary widely, but you can expect typical location fees from £250 per day up to £2,000 if a big-budget production needs your property.

Register your home on AmazingSpace.co.uk, which hosts an online library of properties, mainly within the M25, for its production clients. AmazingSpace requires applicants to complete a questionnaire providing details of their homes, and send pictures showing their properties and their full potential.

Other sites to try are Locations-uk.com and Lavishlocations.com, which also allow homeowners to register their properties complete with pictures.

Rent out your driveway

Don't leave an unused parking space or garage lying idle; renting it out can be a serious earner, particularly for those living near big city-centres and event venues.

Several websites offer you the chance to advertise your space, free. Parkatmyhouse.com and Yourparkingspace.co.uk are among the most popular sites, but while the former charges an ongoing commission of 15 per cent for successful rentals, the latter is completely free and makes its money from advertising instead.

You can earn anything from £50 to £300 per month, according to Yourparkingspace, with the amount depending on factors including proximity to transport links, and the availability and pricing of parking in your area, as well as the level of demand.

A contract will have to be written to cover the details of the arrangement and to remove your responsibility for the vehicles and any items left inside them. Most of the sites will help out here.

Offer storage space

One site trying to encourage people to be a bit more adventurous is Spareground.com. People can register, free of charge, anything from their cellar and attic to shelves in the garage.

"It gives people options to make money beyond the obvious," says Anne Jones, the managing director of Spareground. "Renting out a room is not always ideal, so this gets people to look at other aspects of space they may not have thought about."

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