5 Great Ways a Spare Room Can Bring You Income and Upgrade Your Home Life
Many of the UK’s 18.6 million spare rooms have lain empty over the years, gathering dust, with just the tantalising promise of use by the odd guest. For others they have created storage space for mounting clutter. Invariably though, they nag on a homeowner’s conscience when instead they could prove a real asset, especially in pandemic times as the cost-of-living soars. Here are 5 of the best ways to use a spare room to supplement your income or enhance your lifestyle.
1. Maximise your income with the shortest stays — Airbnb
If you want to maximise your income by sharing your home space for the least amount of time, then advertising a spare room on Airbnb is ideal. It is the biggest player in the short-term market for lodging, primarily as homestays for tourists. It also enables them to stay in traditionally less visited towns. Typical UK Hosts offer a spare room in the property they live in, making an average of £3,100 per year from just 36 nights of use. Visitors are ID checked via the site.
The downside is that it can require quite a bit of work to keep a room clean and ready for a high turnover of guests, while on the flipside, there is no guarantee of enough visitors to fill the calendar. Contracts tend to be 3–4 days duration according to their figures. There is also a 90-day limit of use in any one year. You pay a 3% fee on earnings, but no tax on an annual total under the £7,500 threshold.
2. Make continuous income with longer-term stays
If you want maximum income on a longer-term basis with the least turnaround, there are a variety of spare room sites where you can offer a spare room at full market rates. For example, Spareroom is the UKs largest house and flatshare website connecting landlords and lodgers or tenants, and it offers listings free. The average monthly rent for a room in a London house share is around £730, or £500 elsewhere in the UK.
Meanwhile for different benefits, fivenights.com, for example, focuses solely on weekday lodging for people needing to relocate for work, giving Landlords full privacy at weekends. Landlords are charged a subscription fee.
If you are looking for possible friendship with mature contemporaries, Cohabitas.com focuses on the over 40s flatshare and offers filtered searches based on age, ‘sharing preferences’ and interests. All members pay a subscription.
These sites do not have mandatory ID checks, so users must request potential candidates to take it. Annual income over £7500 per annum (£625 pcm) is taxable.
3. Get income plus company or useful help with upkeep or childcare
If you are an active, independent homeowner wanting a little income plus interesting company, or help around the house, Hapipod is a new homeshare initiative to offer this dual benefit. It is useful for anyone keen to banish the monotony of living alone (or with boring company!), empty nesters not wishing to downsize, people wanting a little help with upkeep, or families wanting some part-time childcare instead of paying for an au pair.
Hapipod.com enables like-minded homesharers either of similar ages or from different generations, to connect in an exchange of time or help for fees lower than market rents up to a maximum of £81 per week or £350 pcm. Lodgers offer up to 8 hours of their company or help per week in return, which can be with anything from upkeep to IT, gardening, or pet, child or home-sitting. Smart searches filter homesharers by backgrounds, personality, or shared interests, and once connected, parties agree fees and activities between them.
All subscribers must pass an ID verification and background check via the site (at a cost of £20), and are advised to make further checks on homesharers of interest. The homeshares are not monitored, rather, subscribers must be able to manage them themselves, or with support of family or friends. There are no commissions or management fees, just a one- off subscription to connect. Homeowners make all the income, while room-seekers on restricted incomes can live independently and affordably. At a maximum annual earning of £4,200, the income is under the tax threshold. Homeshares tend to be 6 months+ but are flexible.
4. Have live-in Care — for the older or more vulnerable homeowner
If you are at the stage where day-to-day living is difficult and you do not want to move into sheltered housing but need support to remain independent, then your spare room is ideal to house a fully vetted, live-in helper. You can do this through a homeshare or care agency if you feel vulnerable or just prefer an agency to do the vetting for you, and monitor your situation.
Homeshare agencies are ideal for homeowners in the stage prior to needing personal care. Agencies like HomeshareUK offer an affordable means for these homeowners to get live-in support for around £100 per month. They carefully vet the younger homesharers, match them with their elderly clients, and oversee the homeshares. Young homesharers pay roughly £250 per month to the agency, and in exchange, offer 10 hours a week of help and company. Homeowners benefit from a premium support and monitoring service but pay for it rather than earning any money from the spare room. The agencies do the matching. The average contract duration is a year.
In cases where full personal care and support are needed, there are many care agencies providing fully vetted and monitored live-in carers, but it does not come cheaply. Costs for one-to-one care up to 24 hours per day range quite widely but can be anything from £800 -£1800 per week.
5. Re-purpose the Room Completely!
If you have no interest in either extra income or getting live-in company or help, then depending on your hobbies, you could consider redecorating the spare room. Here are a few ideas of what others have transformed theirs into:
A music or recording studio
A home theatre
An artists studio
A games room
A walk-in closet
An indoor garden
A creative craft space
A gym, yoga studio or mediation space
A home bar
With inflation and energy prices threatening further untold stress and anxiety, a spare room can bring considerable benefits. Just start by clearing it!
Andrea Frankenthal is the founder of Hapipod.com, an online matching site for compatible homesharers to connect and exchange time or help for affordable rooms. It is FREE to register, set up a profile and see who’s available. Members only need pay the one-off ID check fee and subscription if and when they see someone of interest. Members must be over 18.
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