Friday 20 October 2017

Payback time: home can earn you money

From renting a room, to holiday swaps, there's income to be made, says Sinead Ryan

Soak up the sun: Use solar panels on your roof to cut your water heating bills. Stock photo
Soak up the sun: Use solar panels on your roof to cut your water heating bills. Stock photo
Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

A house is probably the most expensive purchase you'll make in life, so this week I'm looking at five ways it can earn you money rather than leeching you dry.

1. Let it out

As the rental market gets squeezed tighter and tighter and rent caps put off professional landlords from letting, many home-owners are cashing in on earning money with vacant bedrooms. There are two main ways:

Airbnb

In 2016 just 386 Dublin hosts earned €21m between them with 581 properties using the popular app. They're at the 'professional' end of the market, but there's no reason you can't do it too.

With 5,139 active hosts in the capital alone, 48pc let just one or two rooms on an occasional basis, with 30pc doing so all year round. You don't have to register with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), provide a rent book, or even breakfast. You can let when it suits you and avoid guests when it doesn't. You will have extra work involved in terms of cleaning and perhaps some new purchases to get your room ready, but it's only maintenance thereafter.

Take good photographs, be realistic about rent and read Airbnb's policy on good hosting and fees (around 3pc).

You need to let your insurance company know you're doing it, and remember, income from letting is taxable.

Rent-a-Room

For more permanent arrangements, you can earn up to €14,000 pa tax free if you rent out a room in your house for at least an academic year.

You don't have to provide a rent book or register with the RTB. The income is means tested if your only other income is social welfare, but not against a state pension.

You must live in the house yourself as your principal private residence and you can't let it to your own child.

It's a good idea to set out ground rules in advance with a tenant: how long is the tenancy for? How and when will they pay? Will you do laundry, provide meals etc? What is your policy on overnight guests?

2. Rent out your Driveway

Croker on the day of the All-Ireland? Concert at the Aviva? Near the Luas? If you're lucky enough to have a well-placed house, or even a reserved car space at your apartment which you don't use, you can rent it out. There are a number of websites ready to host your driveway that claim you can earn up to €1,800pa. You can rent by the day, or longer, and your exact address isn't disclosed until payment is made. It must be off-road parking, the commission is around 15pc and average income is about €4 to €20 a day, depending on location. See parkingmotel.com, justpark.com or rent.ie for examples.

3. Take in a foreign student

You will receive a weekly fee to provide bed and board. While the student may share a room, it's preferable if they have one of their own. Check your local school or sites like homestayireland.com. You can host for a couple of weeks, or a full term, adults or teenagers.

4. Holiday swap

A foreign holiday where you only pay for the airfare? Home swapping is very popular and you effectively get a free holiday. Do your research, lock away your valuables and have a bit of a spring-clean; it's a cheap price to pay for the exchange, which might be in Florida, France or Finland! There are lots of sites, but homeexchange.com and homelink.ie are the biggest.

5. Get solar panels

Yes, it might cost money initially but there's a €1,200 grant from the SEAI (seai.ie) to install roof panels, leading to reduced energy costs. Just 1 sqm can heat as much hot water in one year as 400 to 500 units of electricity or €240 off your bills.

Irish Independent

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