Rent out your life: five ways to make money from the sharing economy

Assets which people may not even realise they have can be put to use to increase income

 

Call it what you will; the sharing economy, the gig economy, the peer economy. But, thanks to the advent of focused websites, making money from your neighbour, your colleague, or a random stranger has probably never been easier.

Here, we take a look at some of the ways you can make some extra money – and sometimes even a living – from things you already have.

Your bike

It’s not just Dublin Bikes which gives people a low-cost cycling option – bike owners can also rent out theirs. If you have a garage full of bikes or unused skis gathering dust, you could do worse then put up a note on a site like Spinlister. Recent US dollar listings on the site for Dublin included a single-speed bike for $15 (€13.40)1 a day and a Lemond fixed-gear for $25, while in Belfast you can rent a ladies vintage-style cruiser bike for $15.

Your time

If you’re a dog lover, offering to mind a dog can help boost your income. And it’s become easier to find potential clients, thanks to the creation of sites such as Housemydog. com, which seeks to match dog lovers with those in need of a home for their dogs while travelling.

Unlike traditional kennels, Housemydog seeks to create a “simple, cage-free and stress-free environment experience for safely boarding dogs in real homes at affordable rates”. You can expect to earn between €10-€30 a night for minding a dog.

Another option is to check out sites like Task Rabbit, which allow you to charge for your time.

The American site, which was launched on this side of the Atlantic in London in 2013, matches up people who need errands run with others locally, and typical tasks include cleaning, shopping, laundry, or waiting in line for someone. Setting up Ikea furniture is a popular task.

The website says it now has about 30,000 “taskers” around the world, and taskers earn the minimum wage for jobs organised through the site - some London-based taskers claim to earn as much as £3,200 (€4,200)1 through the site.

While the website previously indicated its plans to launch in Dublin in 2015, Task Rabbit tells us that it has “no plans at this time” to come to Ireland.

You could also consider looking for work as an extra in a film or television series.There are a number of agencies which regularly sign people up for such gigs, although work may be hard to find and may only be for the odd day here and there.

In addition, it’s likely you’ll have to put your hand in your pocket before you get any work, as many agencies charge annual membership fees for their services.

Movieextras.ie for example, says it has members working on the Irish productions Fair City and Red Rock, as well as the BBC’s Ripper Street and several adverts and promotions. It says you will typically earn between €50 and €150 a day as an extra, with fees for adverts as much as €3,000.

There are a number of membership options, including €39.95 to submit your application to Fair City only; an annual child membership (€44.95); adult membership (€89.95) or family (€199.95). These fees include professional photos and training.

Or how about a spot of babysitting? Minderfinders.ie charges customers a €25 monthly membership fee for screening potential babysitters; and babysitters – who must be at least 20 years old with their own car – can earn about €10 an hour, or €12 at weekends.

If you’re stymied by the rising costs of rent in Ireland, spending a little time each day chatting with your room-mate or performing simple tasks may help cut your rental costs. Elderhomeshare.ie for example, seeks to match elderly people with vetted accommodation seekers, who will provide company and carry out easy tasks, such as emptying the bin, but won’t act as carers.

“Light housework, dinner twice a week, and small errands” are cited by the website as an example of an arrangement that could be struck in return for reduced rent.

Founder Saoirse Sheridan has good reason to believe the concept will work; she rents a room from a 96-year-old.

“I’m living what I provide,” she says. Having rented herself for 15 years, Sheridan found herself out of options about 18 months ago when faced with the spiralling rent market.

“I can’t pay these kind of rents and I don’t want to pay these kind of rents,” she says. Looking to the examples of France and Britain, where elder homeshares are more common, Sheridan linked up with a friend who was looking for someone to move in with her father, and her idea was born.

Today, Sheridan organises similar homeshares through her website, charging €350 each to the tenant and host for arranging it, as well as a monthly management fee of €50.

For tenants, the opportunity to live in a comfortable, quiet home for about €200 a month is a key incentive; for the homeowner, having someone around for company, or to do smaller tasks, or simply for the sense of security it brings, is the attraction.

But matching personalities is key to its success.

“The tenant has to be kind, caring and the homeowner must be respectful and reasonable,” Sheridan advises.

Your home

Despite the furore last year over the tax burden of renting out a room via Airbnb, the site doesn’t seem to have lost its popularity with Irish property owners. It says Dublin hosts are making a weekly average of €264 by letting a room in their home, or €250 in Galway and €157 in Cork.

The site will take a 3 per cent cut of every reservation made with you, and of course, you must pay income tax on any income earned. Taxback. com recently signed a partnership with the tourist site which will help hosts pay their Irish taxes.

A tax-free option to renting out your home could be taking in a long-term tenant or summer student, both of whom are eligible for the rent-a-room scheme. This Revenue-approved scheme allows you to earn up to €12,000 a year in rental income tax free.

Another option, if you’re looking to improve your language skills but don’t want to spend money on doing so, is to invite someone to stay with you via the GoCambio website.

A little bit like Airbnb, its mission is “to connect the millions of people who want to learn new skills or improve the language they are learning with the millions of people who travel in search of unique and independent experiences”. While the site provides verification of hosts and guests, it costs nothing to use.

Your personality

Yes we all know the jokes about rent-a-crowd, but paying someone to be your friend is no longer an urban legend. In a disassociated world, where people are less likely to remain close to support networks of school friends and family, making friends has become increasingly difficult. This has opened up a world of paid-for friends.

Rent A Friend for example, is one such portal, providing a platform for those looking for a pal to go to the cinema or check out an exhibition with. The site has more than 530,000 users, some of whom are in Ireland. You can earn about $10 an hour on the site by offering to accompany someone on a walk or go to the cinema.

Your driveway

Depending on where you live, you may find you’re sitting on an asset you don’t use for large parts of the day – your driveway, or parking space.

Yes if you drive to work, and live close to where other people work, you may find there is a market out there for people who wish to avoid punitive parking rates by availing of a cheaper alternative – your driveway.

Donedeal.ie has a section which allows you to list your parking space and come to longer-term parking agreements. You could expect to earn about € 100 a month for a parking space within walking distance of Dublin’s city centre, or as much as €250 for a space in a secure car park in the city centre. And it’s not just the capital where people are looking to save on parking costs; in Galway a parking space is advertised at € 65 a month.

Another option is justpark.com, which allows homeowners post their home address and rent out their driveway on a daily basis. A space on James’s Street in Dublin 8 for example, can be rented for €6.90 a day, while a garage in Sandyford can be rented for €5.60 a day.

And yet another option is Parkingmotel. com, which charges a fee of 15 per cent fee on bookings arranged through the website.

Clothes for hire: Don’t let your wardrobe just hang around doing nothing

If you have a wardrobe full of designer labels you have little occasion to wear (or perhaps clothes you’re holding onto in the hope that one day you will fit into them again), or an enviable collection of bags or shoes, you could try and make some money rather than leave them languishing in your wardrobe.

There are now a number of websites which will facilitate the transaction for you, such as rentmydress.ie, which was set up by Kildare-based Debbie Moriarty in 2013, but has recently been relaunched with a new website.

For women looking for an eye-catching number that won’t break their bank balance, the site is a good option.

“Most women are really grateful to have found something at a very low price,” she says.

You can charge whatever you want for the dress based on the original retail price and its condition.

“Some of the dresses on our site still have the tags on them!” Moriarty says, adding that typically you could expect to pay about €25 for a dress that will get you to the races or to a ball.

There are currently about 120 ads listed on the site, but Moriarty hopes to grow it further, and her focus for 2016 is to get women to put their wedding dress up on the site.

At a cost for some brides of €1,500 for wedding dresses, by renting them out they can make some money back on their outlay, while still keeping the dress as a memento.

Down the line, Moriarty is also looking to link up with a delivery service, which would facilitate dress rentals right across the country.

There are several options for listing a dress on the site, ranging from €1 for a basic ad, to €9 for a value-added social media package.

Moriarty herself has rented out about 30 dresses through the site, and she recommends that members price the cost of cleaning the item into the rental price.

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