MAKING CENTS: Looking to earn cash? Put that spare room to use and rent it out

IF YOU'RE looking for ways to earn extra money in 2016 it is worth considering renting a room in your house, writes Gráinne McGuinness

With accommodation becoming more costly all the time, especially near urban and college centres, a spare room in your home could become a valuable source of income.

The main category of potential renters are third-level students. Edward Thurman, co-founder of CollegeCribs.ie, says the number of rooms offered for rent to students has skyrocketed in recent years.

“We have seen a huge increase in the numbers of rooms being offered,” he said.

“We believe it is down to how the student accommodation crisis has been covered in the media in the past year. The popularity of private homeowners renting out spare rooms to students has definitely increased.”

The number of digs offered on CollegeCribs.ie has accounted for 53% of adverts in 2015, up from 34% in 2013. Colleges around the country are actively encouraging people to rent rooms to students and homeowners are becoming aware of the benefits.

“We have had landlords offering digs for many years,” Thurman said. “In the vast majority of cases they find it very rewarding.”

As with most accommodation options, Thurman said room costs were highest in Dublin, followed by Cork, then Galway, Limerick, Waterford.

Currently on CollegeCribs.ie, there are single rooms listed in Dublin with rent of €120 to €185pw, with single rooms in Cork and Galway available from €100 and upwards.

Many of these ads specified that the room was rented from Monday to Friday, with the student expected to go home at weekends.

Different landlords offered different services, so you can tailor your offering to suit the family lifestyle. You can let on a room-only basis, with the student expected to fend for themselves for meals.

If offering this option be aware they will then need access to the kitchen to cook for themselves.

But if you are preparing a family meal anyway, particularly if there is someone at home during the day, providing breakfast and an evening meal will increase the price you can charge. Generally bills are included in the price and students will expect there to be wifi available.

From a tax point of view, renting from your home in this way is covered under the rent-a-room relief. The rental income you earn is not taxable unless it goes over a certain threshold, currently €12,000 per year.

So for example, a room rental of €120 for a 40-week college year works out at €4,800, less than half that.

Indeed, many of the ads for digs on collegecribs.ie and other sites indicate that the landlords have more than one room rented to students. You will need to complete a tax return even if you fall below the threshold.

It is not just students who are in need of rooms. With more and more people travelling long distances to work, many are looking for Monday to Friday accommodation in order to avoid long and tiring commutes.

This could be a good option for familes who would prefer workers to students, and/or those who want their homes to themselves at the weekend. Www.getdigs.ie is a dedicated site for this type of accommodation, connecting potential lodgers to homeowners.

When renting a room in your home in this way you are not obliged to register as a landlord with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB).

This makes life simpler in that you don’t have to provide a rent book to the tenant or ensure the accommodation provided meets certain standards, but be aware that you are not covered by landlord and tenant legislation so rights and obligations under that legislation do not apply to you.

Thurman strongly advises putting an agreement in writing with your lodger before they move in. Include how much rent is to be paid and when, and agree a minimum notice to be given if either homeowner or lodger wants to end the agreement.

It is also a good idea to make clear what additional services are being included, be it meals, laundry etc.

Some insurance policies provide cover for a certain number of paying guests, but having lodgers may also limit areas of cover such as theft or damage. Speak to your insurer before going ahead with any arrangement and consider advising your lodger to arrange their own renter’s insurance to protect their possessions.

DEAL OF THE WEEK

With many of us in the middle of the traditional January health kick, Lidl have chosen the perfect time to come out with a range of cooking utensils to promote healthy habits.

Of particular interest for those who have been considering the omnipresent Nutribullet but balked at the price tag is the Silvercrest Nutrition Mixer.

It comes with a 19,000rpm motor, 700ml and 350ml blender jugs, two blade attachments and a removable tumbler for making smoothies. Also provided are a recipe booklet and lids for on the go and storage and at €39.99 with a three year guarantee, it is an excellent option for the budget-conscious weight-watcher.

The range also includes a juicer (€9.99), steamer (€12.99) and a George Foreman family grill (€30). A Nutrition Scale that calculates fat, protein, carbohydrates, calories, cholesterol and more is available for €12.99.

These are all on sale on Thursday January 14.


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