How to make your home your side hustle

Looking to make some extra money on the side? Put your home to work and watch the cash roll in.

Chris King From the Home team
15
minute read
posted

List your home on Airbnb

How does it work?

Renting out your home, or even just a spare room, via Airbnb can be great way to make your property pay its way. The site acts as on online marketplace, linking homeowners with people searching for accommodation – and it’s really taken off since its launch in 2008, with over 6 million homes being listed and over 500 million stays booked worldwide. 

Getting started is simple – you just create an account and list your space, with photos and a description. You have full control over the price, when the space is available and what the refund policy is in case of cancellations. 

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How much could you earn?

In terms of making money, listing your home on Airbnb can be pretty lucrative. Data from the site shows that a typical UK host earns £3,100 per year, just by hosting guests for on average four nights a month although, of course, potential earnings depend on where you are. Renting a private room for two guests in Manchester could earn you around £686 per month, whereas the same arrangement in London could command around £1,314. But Airbnb-ing isn’t just for big cities – new hotspots include Pembrokeshire and the East and West Midlands.  

See how much your home could earn using Airbnb’s quick calculator.

Any risks?

One thing that puts some people off using Airbnb is the thought of strangers staying in their personal space, and there have been horror stories of guests throwing raucous parties or damaging properties. To protect against this, Airbnb offers a ‘Host guarantee’ with free protection up to $1,000,000 (£763,425), as well as a 24/7 helpline in case of any issues. It does, however, recommend that you also have appropriate home insurance in place.  

But you need to be careful here, according to Compare the Market's insurance expert Chris King. "Normally, from a home insurance perspective, you’re insured for yourself as the policyholder, plus family members who live with you. If you have strangers coming and going, this increases your risk profile and some insurance providers won't touch this kind of risk."  

If you’re letting with Airbnb, you’ll need to tell your insurance provider, and you could find that they want to cancel your policy or not offer you a renewal.  But don't worry, says Chris, "you should be easily able to find the right cover elsewhere".  

When you do get cover, however, you might find there are endorsements or exclusions or the insurance provider may want to charge you a little more. This can depend on how often you have people staying in your property.

There are other things to look out for too: letting or subletting property can infringe mortgage or rental rules, so it’s always worth checking with your mortgage provider or landlord. 

Chris King

Chris King

Home insurance guru

Compare the Market

"Normally, from a home insurance perspective, you’re insured for yourself as the policyholder, plus family members who live with you. If you have strangers coming and going, this increases your risk profile and some insurance providers won't touch this kind of risk." 

Taking in lodgers

How does it work?

Chris King, our home insurance whizz, says: “Before taking in a lodger you should inform your landlord or mortgage provider to check they give permission. You also need to inform your home insurance provider.”

There is potentially a difference in how insurance providers see the risk of a lodger compared to that of an Airbnb guest, says Chris King. Because the lodger will be more permanent, insurance providers may consider that "you’ll probably do a bit of due diligence about who it is that you are letting live with you, so they may consider it less of a risk". 

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Insurance providers, he says, are also more used to asking about lodgers and understanding potential risks than they are Airbnb guests, so it may be easier to get insurance quotes.

Taking in a lodger can have implications for any benefits you receive as well as your council tax, so it’s important to do your research first.

How much could you earn?

How much your lodger pays will depend on your property type and where you’re based. According to Onthemarket.com, the average monthly cost of renting a spare room is £5,593 per year, rising to £7,667 in London.

As an extra bonus, under the Government’s Rent a Room scheme, you don’t pay any tax on the first £7,500 per year you earn from renting out your spare room.

What are the risks?

Before taking in a lodger you should inform your landlord or mortgage provider to check they give permission. You also need to inform your home insurance provider.  

There is potentially a difference in how insurance providers see the risk of a lodger compared to that of an Airbnb guest, says Chris King. Because the lodger will be more permanent, insurance providers may consider that "you’ll probably do a bit of due diligence about who it is that you are letting live with you, so they may consider it less of a risk".  

Insurance providers, he says, are also more used to asking about lodgers and understanding potential risks than they are Airbnb guests, so it may be easier to get insurance quotes.

Taking in a lodger can have implications for any benefits you receive as well as your council tax, so it’s important to do your research first.

Does it pay to have lodgers?

Jackie Kingsley lives and works in London. We asked her for her experience of letting out a room in her house…

“We’ve had lodgers for years and have found it a really great way to make some extra money. We usually have students, so you get some help from the college who can act as a sort of matchmaker to link you up with people looking for accommodation.”

Renting your home to film or TV companies

How does it work?

Could your home be a screen star? Many of the properties you see in films and TV series are people’s real-life homes, and letting production companies use your space could earn you hundreds or even thousands of pounds in a matter of days.

To get started you’ll need to register with a location agency. This is typically free, but you’ll pay commission on any earnings – usually around 15-25%. If you’re serious about making some money, it might be worth splashing out on some professional property photos to help show off your home effectively. Then it’s just a case of waiting for your property to catch the eye of a producer…

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Don’t worry if your property is a three-bedroom semi rather than a stately home – all sorts of homes get used as locations. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that film companies will typically look for properties with good parking nearby and decent-sized rooms so there’s space for the cast and crew.  

If your home gets selected, there’s very little work involved for you. You may have to clear out some furniture, etc, or be on hand to make a cuppa, but it’s more likely that you’ll just be asked to go out and leave them to it.

How much could you earn?

It really depends on the TV show or film’s budget and how long the property is needed for, but it could be as much as £1,000-£2,000 a day. For photoshoots, it might be £350 a day. 

Any risks?

As you’d expect, with so many people and equipment, there is a small risk of damage to the property, so it’s important to have the right insurance in place. A location agency should be able to advise you on what you’ll need. It's worth talking to your insurance provider too.  

Just imagine, as Chris says, that you filed a claim for a loose roof tile landing on Mark Wahlberg's Lamborghini – they might ask some questions about why it was parked in your driveway in the first place. Those are the kinds of conversations you want to avoid by being up front.

Renting your driveway

You don’t even need to use your whole home as a side hustle – just the driveway might be enough to earn you thousands of pounds a year, depending on where you live.

There are dozens of parking companies and peer-to-peer sites where you can register your driveway and rent it out by the hour, day or longer.

It’s worth doing your research and looking into various sites before signing up with one. Bigger, well-known sites may mean you are more likely to let your space, but they are also more likely to charge registration fees and take a cut of your earnings. 

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How much could you earn?

It really depends on location. According to research by YourParkingSpace.co.uk, driveway owners earned more than £15m from their parking spots in 2018, with drives in London, York, Bristol and Reading being among the the biggest earners.  

Demand will typically be higher in big cities or for homes near train stations and airports.

Any risks?

If you’re looking into renting out your driveway, you may come across conflicting information about whether you need planning permission, as technically it’s a ‘change of use’ to your property. However, the Government has stated that in England, letting out one space is fine. It’s still a grey area elsewhere, so worth checking with your local council.

There are also possible insurance implications, so make sure you notify your provider. Complications can hinge on what the insurance provider considers to be your home, Chris explains. And, if a driver knocked down a fence in a parking mishap, you could find that they’d be treated as if they were a paying guest in your home and therefore not covered under your home insurance policy.

Using your home as a gallery

How does it work?

If you know artists or art students who want to exhibit – or you’re an artist yourself – then one way to showcase creations while avoiding pricey gallery fees is to turn your home into a gallery. 

You’ll need plenty of space to display their creations and be happy to welcome people into your home. If the art is your own, you might want to add to the experience by letting people into your studio to get a glimpse of the creative process.

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How much can you earn?

You can charge a fee for use of your space, or take commission on sales.

Any risks?

If you’re selling art from your home then you are effectively turning it into a retail space, which could have implications for your mortgage, so you’ll need to discuss it with your lender beforehand.  

You’ll also need to consider insurance carefully. As you’ll have members of the public on your property, public liability insurance is a must, and you’ll need to make sure the artwork is properly covered. It could also mean that you’re treating your home as a business and you’ll need insurance more suitable for small businesses, says Chris. It may depend on the frequency that you open up – but you will need to check.

Generating your own energy

How does it work?

Generating your own renewable energy can help cut down your utility bills and even make you a little extra on top.  

First you’ll need to decide which type of energy source you’d like to use – wind, solar, combined heat and power (CHP) or heat pumps. It’s worth doing extensive research to find out which best suits your needs and property. For example, ground-source heat pumps require a lot of outdoor space and solar panels work best on south-facing roofs that aren’t shaded by trees.

Renewable energy sources can be quite expensive to install, so bear in mind that whichever method you choose there are likely to be some upfront costs.

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How much will you earn?

The biggest financial benefit of generating your own energy is that your bills should fall. Previously, people using renewable energy sources could make some cash by selling any excess energy back to the National Grid through the Feed-In Tariff scheme, however, this closed to new applicants in April 2019. Existing participants will be able to continue as normal.  

If you generate heat from a renewable source, you’ll also qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which means you’ll get a payment from the Government every three months for a seven-year period. The amount you receive will vary depending on what technology you use, your property type, and so on.  

Check what you could be entitled to using the RHI Calculator

Any risks?

Generating your own energy is relatively risk free. However, with Government incentives ending, you need to do your sums to work out if the savings on your bills are worth the initial outlay.

You might also want to consider how things like solar panels could affect your house price if you want to move in the near future – some people think they are an eyesore, whereas for others it would be a bonus to have them ready-installed. You'll also need to take account of your renewable energy system when calculating the total rebuild costs for building insurance.

Growing your own food

How does it work?

If you have a big garden or access to an allotment, then growing your own fruit and veg could help cut down your food bill, plus you can always sell any extra to friends or at a local market to raise a bit of cash.

To get a good haul of produce and make real savings, you’ll have to put in a lot of work and try to grow for as much of the year as possible.

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How much will you earn?

A survey for the Edible Garden Show found that grow-your-own gardeners save an average of £268 a year, although research by the National Allotment Society suggests that the savings could be as high as £1,300 a year for an experienced gardener with a 250 square metre plot.

Any risks?

Some people suggest that the cost of maintaining a veg patch and buying good quality seeds, etc, means that savings are actually quite small, plus there’s always the risk that you’ll have a bad harvest and still find yourself hitting the supermarket fruit and veg aisle on a regular basis.

Insurance-wise, plants and shrubs may be covered in your contents insurance, but if you have prize specimens and want to be sure you’re covered against vandalism, or say a vehicle crashing into your front garden, be sure to check the limits and exclusions in your policy, says Chris. Just remember, you won't be covered for damage caused by a storm.

Using your home as a workplace

How does it work?

Doubling up your home as a workspace can lead to significant cost savings, especially compared with renting an office. According to data from the TUC, 1.6 million employees regularly work from home.  

And it’s not just people who run their own company who can take advantage of the benefits of homeworking – all employees are legally allowed to put in a flexible working request, asking if they can work some or all of their hours from home, if appropriate. Employers can refuse if it goes against business interest, but they do have to consider all requests carefully. 

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How much will you earn?

Again, working from a home office is all about making savings. Business owners will save on office rental costs and utilities, while employees will save their commuting costs. There may also be some less obvious savings. Research by Nationwide puts the cost of working in an office at around £1,000 a year when extras like birthday whip-rounds, sponsorship forms and coffee runs are taken into account.

You should, however, bear in mind that working from home may see your energy bills go up as you’ll be spending more time in the house. But remember that you can potentially save money on your energy bills by shopping around to find the most competitive tariff.

Any risks?

Many home insurance providers will ask a question about home working when you apply for insurance. And if they don’t, it’s important to check and see if you need to let them know. If what you’re doing at home is essentially desk work, you may not need to tell your insurance provider unless they specifically say so. Check with your employer too that any equipment that you bring home will be covered by their policy.

If you’re running a business from home it’s worth looking into specialist business insurance, which will cover any equipment as well as extras like public liability insurance for people coming in and out of your home. 

What it’s like to work from home

Carla Dobson-Elliott is a writer who lives in Yorkshire and who has started working from home most days of the week. What sort of impact has this had?

“Since working four days a week from home, I’ve seen huge improvements to both my bank account and quality of life. Not only am I saving up to £50 a week in train fares, as soon as I log off I’m at home and able to spend time with my kids – no more spending hours on a packed train.

“One thing I did realise early on though is that you really need a dedicated workspace, so you can step away from it at the end of the working day. It’s worth investing in a good desk and chair and getting yourself set up properly.”

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