Most people have heard of Airbnb – the website that lets you rent out a room or your whole home to holidaymakers. But these days there are lots more lending sites that let you rent out pretty much ANYTHING you own.
From your clothes to your car, your lawnmower to your garden, it's possible to rent out all sorts for cold hard cash. Here's how to do it and the best sites to do it on – plus, crucially, the risks and what to watch out for.
11 ways to rent out your stuff, including...
This is the first incarnation of this guide. Some of these sites are already well established, but others are relatively new and untested. If you've tried them, please feed back your experiences (good or bad) in the Rent It Out For Cash discussion.
The concept is simple – you own stuff that other people would like to borrow, so use the power of the internet to show 'em what you have and find someone who's willing to pay.
While the websites you use will vary, the same principle applies to almost anything – be it BBQ, bicycle or a biggie like your garden, driveway or home. A couple of sites listed here even let you use something you own to provide a service, such as carpooling or hosting a dinner party for tourists.
Yet while it's possible to earn £100s doing this, it goes without saying that renting out your home or possessions to strangers via the internet isn't risk-free. We've provided key info for each of the sites below, but first here are the need-to-knows. The truth is some of these may stop you doing it, so be aware of the rules before you jump into anything.
Some sites offer protection if your property's damaged, others won't – so check
Many of the bigger sharing sites, especially those which let you rent out your home or car, have some form of protection to help you if your property is damaged, though some schemes are better than others.
We've listed details of where these apply for each site below – for example, Airbnb offers a 'host guarantee' which in theory covers damage by guests up to the value of £600,000, but in practice has plenty of exclusions.
Some of the sites operate more like classified ads and offer very little protection for either party when something goes wrong. Be cautious about what you list on these sites, and be prepared to settle any disputes yourself.
Whatever you're renting out, tell your insurer
If you're renting out anything for a fee, it's vital to consider if doing so will affect your insurance. For example, if you rent out part of your home without telling your home insurer, even if there's no problem when it's being rented out, if you later need to claim for something else you could find renting it out has invalidated your cover.
This doesn't just apply to homes and cars. Technically, if you have contents insurance you need to tell your insurer if you rent out ANY of your belongings – even if it's something small, like a BBQ.
If you don't, not only will you not be covered if something's damaged, but it could be classed as a non-disclosure and lead to your policy being cancelled. This is something you'd then need to disclose when getting a new policy, and it could make it difficult to find a new insurer.
The best bet is to call your home or car insurer and be upfront about what you're planning to do. It usually would make a decision on a case-by-case basis, but may agree to extend your existing policy. Make sure you get any changes in writing.
If it allows you to extend your policy, it may charge you an extra fee. If so, rather than just accept the extra cost, check if a new deal beats your existing policy (though you'll need to factor in cancellation fees, typically £50ish). See our Cheap Home Insurance and Cheap Car Insurance guides for full help.
You're renting out to strangers – so stay safe
If you're renting out goods and meeting a borrower in person, use your common sense. For smaller goods, do the exchange in a busy public place. If they must come to your home, try to do the exchange on your doorstep and make sure someone else is in when they visit.
If you're actually renting out your home or garden, take appropriate precautions. Vet your guests, and make sure friends or family know exactly what you're doing (and are on hand to help if possible). Tell your neighbours too, and if renting out your whole home, consider keeping valuables elsewhere or in a locked room.
Consider separate public liability insurance for high-risk items
Public liability insurance specifically protects you if someone is injured or property is damaged due to an item you've rented out.
Depending on what you're lending, it's worth considering getting a separate liability policy. But it's worth weighing up the risk posed by the item you're renting out.
For example, with lower-risk items such as books or clothing, you may decide it's not necessary. However, renting out a hedge trimmer could be high risk if the renter gets injured or loses a limb (and thinks it's your fault).
To get a policy, you will need to speak to a broker who will try to find an appropriate 'standalone' policy. Try the British Insurance Brokers' Association broker helpline.
If renting out a car, you're unlikely to need separate public liability insurance as the renter should be covered by the car insurance policy they'll need anyway to drive the car. For more info, see Renting out your car below.
You may need to consult your mortgage provider, freeholder or landlord
This mainly applies to renting out part or all of your home, but again, if in doubt, check.
If you have a mortgage, check the terms and make your lender aware of what you're doing. Breaking the rules could mean a worse rate, an additional fee or ultimately even repossession (though this is unlikely).
Even if you do tell your mortgage provider and it's happy with you renting out your home, there's a chance your rate could increase as a result – in which case you'll need to weigh up the pros and cons. Some mortgage providers will simply say you're not allowed to rent out your property.
If you rent your property or live in a housing association/council property, it's unlikely you'll be able to rent out a room. Most contracts ban subletting, which includes renting out a room via Airbnb, so always seek permission first.
If you're a leaseholder, you also need to check with your freeholder that it's allowed within the terms of your lease. Unfortunately, many leases ban you from renting out rooms.
You may need to pay tax – but from April the first £1,000 is tax-free
Until early April 2017 at least, you're likely to need to pay tax. Any sources of extra income need to be declared, so make sure you're upfront with HM Revenue & Customs – for full info, read its self-employment leaflet.
However, from Thursday 6 April you'll be able to benefit from two new tax breaks. From then, the first £1,000 you earn from renting out your property AND the first £1,000 you earn through 'odd jobs' – including activities such as carpooling and sharing power tools – will be tax-free.
This means that from April 2017 you simply won't have to declare the first £1,000 earned through each source. Those who earn more than £1,000 through either can just deduct the allowance instead of calculating their exact expenses. See the Online sellers and room-renters given tax break MSE News story for full details.
If you're renting out a room (but not your whole home) through Airbnb or a similar site, you may also benefit from the Rent a Room scheme, which allows you to earn up to £7,500/year tax-free – see more about the scheme.
If you hardly ever use your car, you're forking out a lot of moolah just to have it parked on your driveway. So why not put it to work? It can't be any old banger though – these sites require your car to be at a certain level of roadworthiness. Obviously it'll need a current MOT and, for example, fully pumped tyres with adequate tread, so always check the full criteria of each site.
Easycar Club is part of the Easygroup, best known for its Easyjet brand. It lets you rent out your car or van (as long as it's owned by you, so not a company van). You say when your vehicle is available and can decide whether to say yes when someone wants to rent it. Easycar Club does the driver checks – you can opt to meet the driver to hand over the keys or use a coded key safe.
How much could you earn? Easycar Club reckons the average is £37 a day, but it varies by car type, and you can set the price. We saw cars listed for between £26 and £180 per day in London and Manchester, booking a week ahead. There's no joining fee as a car owner, but Easycar Club takes 10% commission plus VAT on what you earn, so if you rent your car for £22, you'll earn £19.36.
How established is it? Launched in 2014, it now has 90,000 members and about 5,000 cars available. Cars are most often rented out in big cities such as London, Edinburgh or Bristol, but even smaller towns such as Bury near Manchester and South Woodham Ferrers in Essex have cars to let.
How does payment work? Easycar Club handles the payments and pays cash into your bank account within 14 days of the rental ending.
What protection is there? If a renter runs off with your car or causes any damage, there's insurance in place. Technically it's the renters who are covered by a fully comp Admiral insurance policy for the duration of the rental (they pay a surcharge to cover this). If anything goes wrong it's usually the renter who claims, but the owner can also claim via Admiral. Admiral breakdown cover's included too.
In some cases damage isn't covered – eg, if a tyre needs replacing, the cost may be split between you and the renter. If the renter invalidates the insurance, eg, drink-driving, and causes damage to your car, for example, in the event of a claim you would be treated as a third party, and Admiral says it would seek to recover cash from the renter. Renters are liable for parking and speeding tickets, but tell Easycar Club ASAP if one's sent to you. See Easycar FAQs for full info.
Does my insurer allow it? Unfortunately some insurers' policies ban you from using a peer-to-peer lending scheme, so always double-check with your insurer before signing up to a scheme like this. If your insurer does allow you to use a scheme such as Easycar Club, the Admiral cover works in parallel with your car insurance and replaces it for the period of the rental.
You could switch insurer if yours doesn't allow you to use the site, but factor in a cancellation fee (typically £50ish). See Cheap Car Insurance for help.
With this site, you're not renting out your whole car but getting paid to take passengers with you if you're all going to the same place (eg, the airport or train station). So it's not about making a profit, it's about splitting the cost of your journey – but we've included it here anyway as it's a way to recoup extra cash from the extra seats in your vehicle.
How much could you earn? It won't be a fortune, as this is really a way to cover the cost of petrol and wear and tear on your car. BlaBlaCar suggests a price based on mileage and your car – eg, for a journey from London to Manchester it suggested £24 per passenger – and you can then tweak this. BlaBlaCar adds an extra fee which each passenger will pay.
How established is it? Launched in France in 2006, it's extremely well known as a carpooling site and has 40 million members worldwide.
What protection is there? This is essentially a form of hitchhiking, albeit done online and with payment involved, so it's important to be safety-savvy. BlaBlaCar moderates profiles and has a member ratings system, and you can choose to check out who wants to travel with you ahead of time. Make sure you let friends or family know when and where you're going.
Does my insurer allow it? The Association of British Insurers says car sharing should not affect your cover, as long as you're not making a profit from it. That said, you should check with your own insurer first.
There are a few general-purpose websites and apps that let you list almost ANYTHING you want to rent out, so long as it's legal. Expensive items which don't get used very often – eg, tents, drills – tend to do best. Be careful though – these sites are less established and less widely used than others in this guide – and there's less protection if something goes wrong.
You can list pretty much any item you own on RentMyItems and set a daily rate for people to borrow it. Borrowers then search for items in their area, and you meet up in person to hand it over.
Similar to classified-ads sites such as Gumtree, RentMyItems doesn't process payments for you – it's just there to hook lenders up with borrowers.
We haven't had much feedback from MoneySavers yet, but RentMyItems has been featured in The Guardian, which reported one user earned about £240 in 10 months.
How much could you earn? It varies depending on the item and what people are willing to pay, but we saw a gazebo advertised for £20/day, a car roof-box for £10/day and a Hugo Boss suit for £40/day. The site does mention listing fees, but we checked and it says all listings are free 'until further notice'.
How established is it? This is the biggest and longest-running general lending site we've seen. It launched in 2011, and there were over 2,000 items listed across the UK when we checked.
How does payment work? As above, RentMyItems doesn't handle payments, so you have to arrange with the borrower. As you'll be meeting up in person, cash is probably safest.
What protection is there? The site doesn't offer any protection at all, so you have to use it at your own risk. The site recommends you request a deposit from borrowers and ask to see proof of ID. To be safe, make sure you charge a deposit equivalent to the value of the item you're lending.
Streetlend is another site which lets you list almost anything you can think of and charge borrowers a daily fee.
How much could you earn? We saw a power washer advertised for £15/day and a stepladder for £3/day. There are no fees for lenders, so you'll get the full amount you charge.
How established is it? The site was launched in 2013, but only had 125 items available to borrow when we checked. Items are mainly listed in London and the South East at the moment, but it can be used across the UK.
How does payment work? Streetlend doesn't handle payments, so it's between you and the borrower. Cash is usually safest.
What protection is there? There's no formal protection with this site, but you can request a security deposit from borrowers if you're worried about your item being lost or damaged. There's an option to add this when you create your listing.
You'll need to download the (free) app from iTunes to start lending items – it's currently only available for Apple devices.
How much could you earn? It varies, but we spotted a bread maker advertised at £4/day and a hedge trimmer at £10/day. There are no fees for lenders, but borrowers pay a fixed £1 fee to the app per item.
How established is it? The app was launched at the end of 2016 and there were only about 100 items listed when we checked.
How does payment work? Payment is made in advance within the app using PayPal and once the money is transferred, contact details are released so you can arrange a time to meet up.
What protection is there? There's no protection, but you can request a deposit from borrowers.
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If you own your home it's likely to be your biggest asset, and there are lots of different ways to make cash out of it. This isn't just about Airbnb and similar sites which let you rent out a room or the whole home – you can also host guests, rent out storage space or even rent out your dining table and cook.
Some make £1,000s a year renting out their home – or just a room in it – and Airbnb's the biggest name in the business. In fact, this is so popular we have a dedicated Rent Out Your Home on Airbnb guide.
How much could you earn? It all depends on where your property is, how big it is and how often you let it out. As a host you'll be charged a 3% fee on bookings (and renters are also charged an extra 6%-12% fee), though we've heard of people making £1,000s – for example, James tweeted us to say:
@MoneySavingExp We're on Airbnb and make about £400 a month from our spare bedroom. It's great fun too.
Even better, if you're renting out a room rather than your whole home you can currently earn up to £7,500 tax-free via the Rent a Room scheme (the Government's looking at whether to change these rules, however).
How established is it? Launched in 2008, it now operates in 191 countries and has more than three million listings, including 130,000 houses, flats, cottages and, er, castles, in the UK.
How does payment work? Airbnb handles payments. For short lets you'll be able to withdraw cash 24 hours after the check-in – for lets of 28+ days you'll be paid monthly.
What protection is there? Airbnb offers a 'host guarantee' which in theory covers up to £600,000 of damage by guests – but it's NOT an insurance policy and it's littered with exclusions. So as a minimum ask for a decent security deposit, and strongly consider getting extra insurance (you'll need to contact your home insurance provider anyway – see below).
Does my insurer or mortgage provider allow it? Before doing this, check with your home insurer and mortgage provider, freeholder or landlord if you have one. If you don't, you could invalidate your home insurance, land yourself with extra mortgage fees (or, in the worst case, risk repossession) or scupper your lease (including freehold).
Unfortunately some simply won't let you do this – though if your home insurer won't extend your policy, you may be able to get separate specialist cover. See Airbnb insurance help.
As with Airbnb, Homestay* involves getting paid to let people stay in your home, but with the twist that you're there to host your guests and show them around. You can choose how involved a host you want to be – there's even an option to rate your hosting style on your listing, from 'helpful and hands on' to 'I mostly keep to myself'.
How much could you earn? Homestay says the average amount earned by UK hosts in 2016 was £1,500. However, some top hosts earned as much as £13,000. The average nightly rate in the UK is £26. Homestay takes 15% of the booking fee as commission (see below).
How established is it? Homestay was launched in July 2013; currently, there are 3,200 homestays listed in the UK – more than a third of these are in London, but the rest are spread throughout the country.
How does payment work? To make a booking, guests pay 15% of the total booking amount as an online deposit directly to Homestay. The company keeps this as its booking fee, and you receive the remaining amount, paid directly by the guest in advance or on arrival.
What protection is there? There is no formal protection for hosts, but Homestay has a customer service team which will mediate if there are any issues. You can ask guests for a security deposit, but there's no official option to add this to your listing – you'll need to write it in your Homestay description to let guests know.
Does my insurer or mortgage provider allow it? As with Airbnb, you'll need to check with your home insurer and mortgage provider, freeholder or landlord if you have one. Otherwise you might invalidate your home insurance, land yourself with extra mortgage fees or scupper your lease.
If you've space in a loft, garage or spare room, Storemates puts you in touch with folk who need to store stuff.
How much could you earn? Storemates recommends charging 50% of commercial price – it automatically suggests a figure based on that, but you can charge what you like. For example, a 20 square-foot loft space in south London could net £600/year.
Some MSE forumites report earning up to £40 a month, while others say they've listed their property but had no response. Registering and listing your property is free, though Storemates charges 15% of the monthly rent as commission.
How established is it? The site was launched in 2012, and now has over 1,500 storage spaces listed across the UK.
How does payment work? Payments are made via the site.
What protection is there? Storemates offers homeowners and storage seekers a £10,000 'Storemates protection guarantee' to cover any problems that arise, where their own insurance is not able to cover a claim (although it says it's never had an issue or claim to date). To qualify for this you need to fill out its storage agreement with your 'storemate' (the person renting the space).
Check you're comfortable with what's being stored, and don't agree to store valuables. This is because if you have to claim for damage to someone else's items, most standard insurance policies won't cover this.
Does my insurer or mortgage provider allow it? Renting out part of your property for business purposes without telling your insurer could invalidate your home cover. Call it and say you're planning to list your storage space. Your insurer would usually make a decision on a case-by-case basis, but may extend your existing policy for a small fee.
EatWith lets you make cash from your skills in the kitchen, and as a dinner party host. You list the cuisine and type of event you'd like to offer (eg, 'homemade Italian pizza' or 'Sunday brunch') and charge guests a fee to attend.
The idea behind the site is to help travellers experience other cultures by spending time with locals and experiencing new cuisines. There is a vetting process for hosts – EatWith has to approve each home and menu.
While EatWith is established overseas, especially in the US, it hasn't yet really taken off over here so is largely untested, with just a handful of users. It has been featured on the BBC Capital website, but we've had little feedback from MoneySavers. If you try it, let us know how you get on in the forum.
How much could you earn? You can choose how much you charge – hosts currently charge between $20-$150 per meal (about £15-£125), depending on the event.
How established is it? The site was launched in 2012, yet it's much more popular overseas than in the UK – when we checked, we only found nine hosts across the country (all in London).
How does payment work? Payment is made through the site, and guests pay in advance.
What protection is there? There is currently no protection for hosts in the UK, as the 'EatWith guarantee' (which includes third-party insurance) only covers events in the United States, Canada, Israel and Spain.
Does my insurer or mortgage provider allow it? It's hard to say as this is so new in the UK, but it's crucial you check with your home insurer and mortgage provider, freeholder or landlord if you have one BEFORE doing this. Otherwise you might invalidate your home insurance, land yourself with extra mortgage fees or scupper your lease.
It's not just your home – if you have a garden, driveway or other piece of land next to your home, that's valuable real estate you can rent out too.
With Gamping, you can earn money by renting out your private property to campers (the name is a combination of 'garden' and 'camping'). You can list anything from your back garden to a whole field, depending on how much land you own.
To create a listing, you choose whether to accept tents, caravans or motorhomes, and list the amenities you offer (eg, internet, washing machines, showers). There's even an option to say whether you'll allow naturism.
How much could you earn? Average prices are about £8-13 per night, per person. Gamping says its most popular sites make around £7,000 in three months over the summer. Gamping doesn't charge hosts any fees.
How established is it? Launched in March 2014, it currently has about 100 campsites advertised in the UK.
How does payment work? Payments are made through the site.
What protection is there? Gamping says if something goes wrong, every booking is protected by its insurance. If your property is damaged, it will reimburse hosts for damages up to €150,000 (£130,000), including swimming pools and tennis courts.
Does my insurer or mortgage provider allow it? Similar to renting out your home, you'll need to check with your home insurer and mortgage provider, freeholder or landlord if you have one. Otherwise you might invalidate your home insurance, land yourself with extra mortgage fees or scupper your lease.
Renting your driveway can be a great way to boost your income – there's less risk than with sites such as Airbnb, as you don't have to actually let someone into your home, and those looking for a regular spot to park can pay well. We've full help on how to do this in our Rent Your Parking Space guide, but here's a quick run-through.
How much could you earn? It's all about location, location, location. The closer you are to places such as train stations or football stadiums the more you're likely to earn – eg, we found a space within a mile of Kings Cross in London for £10/day, or within a mile of Manchester Piccadilly for £2.50/day. You'll pay a 50p fee to withdraw earnings under £25 but there are otherwise no fees for driveway owners – JustPark adds a service fee on top of what you charge, which is paid by the driver.
How established is it? It was launched in 2006 and JustPark says 60,000 owners have rented out their spaces.
How does payment work? JustPark handles payments and you can usually withdraw your cash 48 hours after the booking.
What protection is there? JustPark has a parking space licence agreement, and says you'll get paid if a driver fails to show up without cancelling.
Does my insurer or mortgage provider allow it? It's always best to check with your home insurer and mortgage provider, landlord or freeholder before signing up. Though insurers we've checked with say it's unlikely to have any effect on your home insurance. Plus, the Government says you DON'T need planning permission to do this, though some officious councils have tried charging a fee anyway – see Planning permission help.
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