Our homes are empty 50% of the time. It’s time they pulled their weight.

Ashley Gornall

I have always thought that the only way to generate income was to sell my time and questionable skills, but in recent times i’ve learned that there is a smarter way of earning. This post will explain how we can get our assets to do some work for a change and to earn us good money. Welcome to the sharing economy.

The idea behind the sharing economy isn’t new, but the rise of peer-to-peer platforms connecting people who are looking to rent out assets with those who are looking to borrow them has taken it mainstream. 

The most well-known of these sharing platforms is Airbnb, which has been the platform at the forefront of the sharing economy for years now, but there are dozens of other platforms that have sprung up to fill niches and give us all an opportunity to make money from our assets. 

Your Home

If you are a homeowner with a spare room, a classic way of making some extra cash is to take in a lodger to make the most of your main asset of a homeowner. That’s certainly what I did before 2013. Often, these guests would be drawn from a small pool of people known to friends and often for weeks or months at a time. 

With the arrival of Airbnb, the potential market for houseguests became global and I began renting out my home on a much more flexible basis and only if I wasn’t around. After some initial nervousness of having strangers in my home alone, I began renting out my home every single time that that I was away visiting family or friends or on holiday. 

The ease and flexibility that platforms like Airbnb provide has given homeowners an opportunity to capitalise on their biggest asset and make money from travellers from across the world.

Benefits

Money. With a little effort setting up your home for guests and some communication back and forth, your home can earn you an income while you are away. I let out a two bedroom home in East London for £150 per night, but needless to say, this will vary wildly. A grotty one bed flat above a kebab house may fetch substantially less, but there is a market for everything.

This is a fantastic way of putting your home to work for your benefit when it would otherwise be empty, lazily sitting around and doing nothing. 

Be aware that depending on where you live, you may be restricted to the number of nights that you can let out your property (in London, it is a maximum of 90 nights).

Problems

  • Nerves
    • At first, I found it quite nerve-wracking having strangers in my home when I wasn’t there, in case they snooped around or had sex on the coffee table. I got over this by:
      • Locking things away that I didn’t want touched/had sex upon.
      • Building up a bit of a rapport over email with potential guests and rejecting ones I wasn’t 100% happy with.

Literally, that was it. I returned home after my first group of guests to find an undamaged home, just as I like it, and never looked back.

  • Damage
    • Despite the periodic newspaper warning that you should expect to have your home razed to the ground by groups of drug-fuelled maniacs, I have only had 1 issue in over 100 groups of guests since 2014. This was when a very noticeable iron-shaped burn mark on the carpet was left by a girl from Los Angeles. I was furious and vowed to take vengeance. I took a deep breathe. I decided that sending her a message asking her to transfer me enough money to cover the cost of a new carpet was a better course of action. Within a few days I received enough to cover the cost of a new living room carpet and a few quid for my trouble.  
  • Fraud
    • This is more relevant for when you yourself are looking to stay in an airbnb property, but be aware that some fraudulent hosts request payment outside of the airbnb payment channel. They then disappear with your money and are no longer contactable, leaving travellers out-of-pocket and with nowhere to stay. Never send or request money outside of the airbnb payment channel.
  • Neighbours
    • Be sure to be clear about the house rules for your guests. Your neighbours wouldn’t like to be kept up by your guests partying all night, so be clear to share the dos and don’ts. Like the old saying goes: Don’t be a jerk.

Film Rental

If your home has star appeal, you might want to consider listing it for use as a filming location. You might not get much in the way of interest unless your home has a specific ‘look’, or is particularly high end, but smaller properties do also get selected as well. Locationworks or Shootfactory are amongst the most reputable sites to consider. Anything from £300 to several thousand is possible.

Don’t expect to be inundated with offers though, I have had my property on both sites for nearly a year without so much as an enquiry.

Your Car

The car is many people’s second biggest asset and tragically is left idle on the street or on the driveway for much of its life, slowly depreciating until it is stolen. I have rented out my Mitsubishi to cost and convenience hungry folks for the last two years on the peer-to-peer platform Getaround. 

You need to weigh up how the additional mileage may impact the resale value of your car, but I have found it to be worthwhile, and not least because of the occasional left behind bag of fruit pastilles. 

Your Car Parking Space

What about if you don’t have a car? Well, you can still profit from any parking spaces that you own. How much you can earn depends on the type of space you have (a secure garage is most valuable) and its proximity to workplaces, transport hubs and event venues. The good people at Just Park calculate a competitive rate based on local supply and demand. 

I have found this to be a little more labour intensive than I would like. I would prefer longer term parking to cut down on the time taken to meet the parkers and give them my carpark access fob. As it is, I have earned around £10 per day and only offer it when it is convenient for me.

Your Storage Space 

If you don’t find the prospect of strangers staying in your home appealing, but are happy to store their possessions, then consider renting out you cellar, loft or garage and become a small scale Safestore. Stashbee is the biggest platform in this market, through which a London-based garage can earn you around £3,000 per year, or a loft something around half that.

I have let out my basement to a guy who needed somewhere to store his furniture for nearly 6 months while he works abroad without any issue whatsoever and have earned £100 per month in the process.

Your Other Stuff

I would say it is certain that you own something that you don’t use all the time and that other people might want to borrow.

Whether you have a camera, a lawnmower, a set of wine glasses or a World War II replica machine gun, it can all be lent to someone for a day or more to earn you a little extra cash.

Product sharing platforms offer all of these items and more or less anything you can think of. I have personally used Fat Llama to rent out my new lawnmower during the summer and it had paid for itself within 6 weeks after a dozen rentals. Which is good news because the mower was a cheap one and now needs replacing. Circle of life.