Put your home to work - House & Home - Property - The Independent

Put your home to work

From renting your house to a film studio to selling off a patch of garden, Kate Hilpern finds clever ways for homeowners to beat the downturn – and plunder their properties' untapped earning potential

Rent out your parking space

You can earn an average of £30 a week from an empty garage or driveway, according to Anthony Eskinazi, founder of parkatmyhouse.com. "If you live near a major sporting or music venue, a busy airport or train centre, or in a city centre, you could earn a lot more. Some of our users make £7,000 a year."

To assess your space's value, use parklet.co.uk's price-guide tool for longer-term parking and www.parkatmyhouse.com for short-term parking. All the big parking websites are free to list your space on and although most take commission, usually 15 per cent, they sort out contracts and offer a secure method of payment.

In fact, the only free dedicated parking space with a significant user base is www.yourparkingspace.co.uk, while the most recent parking-rental start-up, parkonmydrive.com, charges £10 to list each space for a year. You could also put an advert in the local paper or on a listings website. But with all these options, you'll need to sort out contract and payment terms.

Josh Dhaliwal rents out his two residents' parking spaces near his house in Fulham, south-west London, for £13.50 a day each through www.yourparkingspace. "It's the simplest way I have ever found of making money," he says.

The taxman will want his share of your profits, as with any other form of income. And don't forget to inform your insurer of the change, especially with a garage or driveway.

Sell some of your garden

If you have more garden than you need, why not sell some off? It can be a fast, easy way of making large sums, and the number of potential buyers may be larger than you think.

If you're selling to developers, get an estate agent in to value it and then seek planning permission. Plotsearch.co.uk has a 70ft x 35ft garden plot in March, Cambridgeshire, with planning permission for a three-bed detached property, on its books for £72,500.

Neighbours may also be interested. Thelma Williams sold sections of her garden from her two-bedroom house in Flaunden, Hertfordshire, to neighbours on both sides. "I had a huge garden for a small cottage, so even having sold off two chunks, I was still left with a decent-sized space. I could have made much more money, though. I trusted my neighbours' suggestions of what it was worth and I regret not getting an expert in."

Get tax advice, as it could potentially trigger a Capital Gains Tax charge, and beware that you may regret backing on to a huge housing estate instead of green grass. "We've seen a lot of people selling off parts of their gardens in recent years and some underestimate how they'll feel about suddenly being overlooked. Others are also shocked to find that their property has devalued by more than they made from the garden sale," Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents, warns.

Become a film location

"The other day when I went to work, I left Ricky Gervais in my dining room," Sue Armentry, from Fulham, London, says. She lets out her home for photography and filming, which pays anything from £500 to several thousand pounds per day – more if you live in a sought-after areas like Notting Hill in London or Edinburgh. "I've done it about 12 times now, in my case never longer than a single day, and it's an easy, fun way of making money."

In most cases, crews arrive after 8am and finish before you get home from work, but you have to be flexible, Armentry says. "In October, I came home to 60 people in my house, but you can set ground rules like insisting your floor is covered, and they leave the house immaculate."

If any damage is done, it's quickly rectified, says Maggie Bull, whose four-bedroom home on the Isle of Wight was used for the filming of Fragile, starring Calista Flockhart. "I was paid £2,000 for three days of filming and as one was a very wet day and the carpets got dirty, they replaced them."

Register your property through www.film-locations.co.uk and www.amazingspace.co.uk. They will list it, charging around 20 per cent commission if it's used. "The highest demand is for large houses with good parking within the M25," Sarah Eastel, owner of Sarah Eastel Locations, says.

Offer spare storage space

If your garage, cellar, loft or shed is going spare, why not advertise it as storage space on classified websites such as www.adzooks.co.uk and www.yakaz.co.uk? Lock-up garages can go for around £30 a month, although prices vary enormously depending on size, ease of access and your location.

"The income here is treated as rent, so you must pay income tax," warns Tim Gregory, tax accountant and partner at accountancy firm Saffery Champness. "You will have to pay Capital Gains Tax on a proportion of the gain when you come to sell the house if the space is used exclusively by a renter. Also be careful that you are not starting a business in your home if it is prohibited by your mortgage."

Invite tourists to stay

Using www.crashpadder.com, Brice La Barthe rents out his spare room to tourists for £65 a night. "My partner and I live in a two-bedroom flat near Tower Bridge, so it's great for people who want a bedroom in a central spot at low cost," he says. "We limit it to 10 nights a month, though." "You can vet all potential guests and only accept the ones you feel comfortable with," points out Stephen Rapoport, managing director of Crashpadder, who adds that you set your own price. It works by deducting 10 per cent commission, while other websites charge you to advertise your room. You could even set up as a B&B, particularly suitable for bedrooms with en suites. You can charge anything from £30 to £150 per room per night, depending on the facilities and location, but remember to tell your mortgage lender and insurer that you're converting all or part of your home to business premises. You will also need to check with your council whether you need "change of use" planning permission. In addition, you'll need to comply with food-safety legislation, apply for a home television licence, do a fire-risk assessment and get a gas-safety certificate. For more information, visit www.howtorunabandb.com.

Get a lodger

Taking in a lodger is enjoying a resurgence. Halifax Home Insurance found that around 200,000 homeowners have taken one on since 2006, with total lodger numbers now reaching 970,000. For Heather Smith, from Altrincham, south Manchester, it has enabled her to stay in her home after splitting up with her boyfriend three years ago. "I charge £340 a month for a room with a shared bathroom. I enjoy the company and the long-term ones have become friends," she says.

Smith uses www.spareroom.co.uk to register her room for free. Others include easyroommate.co.uk. If you don't want your lodger around at weekends, mondaytofriday.com allows you to register your room for use in weekdays only. "You can expect to get around 60 per cent of the usual weekly rent," Judy Niner, its founder, says.

Nice little earnersOwning a parking permit in a central location (left), selling off a slice of your garden (main), and renting out your home as a film location (right) may help you to make some extra money. Below: Sue Armentry left her house with Ricky Gervais, pictured, shooting a film in her home ALAMY/EPA

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