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Buy a home where the billboard, spare room or shop pays the mortgage

Hoardings can earn you up to €6,000 – or rent out a room for up to €14,000 a year tax-free

At Harcourt Villas in Dundrum, a billboard brings in about €6,000 a year

With property prices continuing to rise, buying a home is becoming increasingly difficult. What if you could buy not just a home but a source of income at the same time?

Make €2,100 a year from a billboard at 367 Saint Colmans Terrace, South Circular Road, Dublin 8


It sits at the side of your house, makes no noise and never needs to use the washing machine. Yes, as “tenants” go, an advertising hoarding is low effort and still offers a decent return.

In Dublin’s Dundrum, 9 Harcourt Villas, a two-bed semi-detached over basement with attic conversion, came to the market seeking €495,000.

The property, which has been fully renovated, has a landscaped west-facing private rear garden, raised decked area and potential to extend.


The big benefit of this well-located property however, may not be its garden, but rather the fact that as an end-of-terrace property. With a large gable wall overlooking the road, it offers a prime spot for billboard advertising.

According to agent Miriam Finn of Sherry Fitzgerald, the average annual income for the hoarding is about €6,000 a year, although this varies from year to year.

Another such property is available on South Circular Road, Dublin 8. The three-bed period end-of-terrace home is on the market for €350,000, and according to agent Michael Kelly of Vincent Finnegan, the billboard on its gable end generates income of about € 2,100 a year at the moment.

Renting a room - or rooms - can bring in income of up to €14,000 a year, tax-free. Pictured is a two-bed apartment at The Orchard Kilmainham D8, on the market for €350,000

Rent a room

It’s one of the few ways left of earning a tax-free income of up to €14,000 a year, and can be a good way of turning that spare bedroom into cash.

The rent-a-room scheme applies to most properties, provided that there is sufficient bedroom space, and has been used by many to send their children to college or pay off their mortgage.

While you don’t have to own a property to qualify for the relief (for example you could sub-let a property, which you have rented, to someone else), it must be your main residence.

Crucially, the rent can’t exceed the limit; if it does, then you will be taxed at your marginal rate on the entire amount. In addition, short-term lets typically don’t qualify (remember the furore over Airbnb hosts some years back), although term-time lettings to students do.

If a room could be let within the apartment for let's say € 800 a month, then the buyer only has to fund €444 themselves

The room being rented must also be attached to the main house, so while a basement or converted garage will qualify, an outhouse some way from the main property won’t, and tax will be liable on this rental income.

While you don’t have to declare your income with Revenue, you should notify them that you’re availing of the scheme.

Consider this two-bed apartment at The Orchard in Kilmainham, which has featured on RTÉ’s Home of the Year and is on the market for €350,000.

On a sale price of €350,000, mortgage repayments will be € 1,244, based on a 10 per cent down payment, a 30-year term and an interest rate of 2.5 per cent. If a room could be let within the apartment for let’s say € 800 a month, then the buyer only has to fund €444 themselves.

Another property with potential is 16 Shelbourne Road, Ballsbridge Dublin 4. The property, which is on the market for € 875,000 is currently laid out in two units, with a one-bed apartment at hall level and two beds at garden level. An owner with an eye on the long-term could move in, and rent out the one-bed unit for up to € 1,166 (to keep within rent-a-room rules) – money which could be put towards the costs of reinstating the property as a family home down the line.

The challenge with rent-a-room however, is that banks won’t take any rental income you might earn when assessing your mortgage application, which means that it won’t help you to close the gap if you’re struggling to get a mortgage for a certain amount.

Trevor Grant, chairman of the Association of Irish Mortgage Advisors, says that historically, lenders would take potential rental income into account when determining how much you could borrow. These days however, no lender will.

“You need to qualify [for the mortgage] on your own income,” he says, noting that while it’s ultimately up to a lender to determine how they calculate a borrower’s gross income – and thus could include rental income in this – they typically won’t.

Live over a shop

How about living above a shop? While the Living Over the Shop Scheme, which gave tax allowances for shop owners to renovate living spaces above their shops, was discontinued in 2006, there has been talk from Dublin City Council that it will include a similar proposal in its new draft development plan from 2022 to 2028.

But in the meantime, there are some ready-to-go places on the market.

A first-floor apartment on Tryconnell Road in Inchicore for example, which extends to 76sq m, comes with a living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and attic conversion.

Lending for the purchase of a multi-use property, where the owner lives over a ground-floor commercial premises and either trades or rents it out is outside AIB's residential mortgage policy

It’s on the market for €330,000, which may seem a lot for a one-bed in Inchicore; neighbouring one-beds for example are on the market for about €225,000, or more than €100,000 less. However, this unit comes with an added extra; a barber shop.

This unit currently brings in about €16,000 a year, while the owner could also consider renting the apartment, for a yield of almost 10 per cent, based on €19,000 in rent for the apartment.

But if the owner wanted to live in the unit, then the €1,333 earned a month from the barber shop will not just cover the monthly mortgage repayments, they will leave about €160 over a month.

Another option is Valentine’s Barber Shop in Tuam, Co Galway, which comes with a three-bed apartment on the second and third floors. It’s on the market for €230,000.

Accessing finance to buy such a property may prove more difficult however.

According to a spokesman for AIB, lending for the purchase of such a multi-use property, whereby the owner wants to live over a ground-floor commercial premises and either trade or rent it out, is outside of the bank’s residential mortgage policy.

It would consider such properties as a buy-to-let investment property however, and as such, “may take into account a portion of current or projected rental income as part of the repayment capacity assessment”.

According to Grant, some lenders in the market may lend for such a property, particularly if commercial tenants are already in situ.

Ferryview is a nine-bed guest house in Clontarf

Home as a business

If you’re looking for a complete lifestyle change, then buying a home with the potential for a fully fledged business might be the option for you.

How about a bed and breakfast by the sea in Clontarf?

Ferryview is a guest house on Clontarf Road which comes with nine bedrooms (all en suite), and is on the market for € 1.15 million. It will likely need a bit of a decorative refresh but with its close proximity to both the sea and the city, it could offer potential for someone with a discerning eye to create a boutique-style guest house.

Ferryview Guest House in Clontarf is on the market for €1.15 million

Another possibility is Dillon’s on the Conor Pass road just outside Dingle Town. On the market for € 450,000, the 10-bed property also comes with a self-contained detached three-bed property, which can also be let to boost rental income.

Remember, a B&B is treated as a business by Revenue, so tax will apply. This means income tax, PRSI and the universal social charge. However, when it comes to selling the B&B, if it is also used as your main home, then you should be in line for a reduction in capital gains tax owed.

Dun Aine, a € 750,000 property with lakeside views in Killaloe, Co Clare comes with a one-bedroom cottage, which could rent for about €800 a week in the high season

Rental income

An easier way perhaps of stepping into the home as a business route is to buy a home which comes with an additional unit that can be rented out, either as a holiday let, or all through the year.

At Killybegs in Donegal, a four-bed detached home at Roshine, with views sweeping over Fintra Bay towards Fintra Beach, comes with an additional two-bed self-contained apartment. The home is on the market for €345,000, and the apartment could generate a weekly rent of about €800-€1,000 during the summer months.

At the historic Johns Mall Georgian terrace in the heart of Birr, Co Offaly, a four-bed two-storey over-garden level, period residence is on the market for €675,000. It comes with a completely restored original stone coach house, which is laid out as a one-bedroom apartment, which could be used to generate rental income. One-bed properties in the area rent for about € 600 a month, indicating annual income of about € 7,200. It could also be targeted at the short-term letting market through Airbnb, etc.

In picturesque Killaloe, Co Clare, you could buy Dun Áine, a €750,000 three-bed property with stunning lakeside views. It comes with a 43sq m one-bedroom cottage, built in a traditional style. It has an open-plan kitchen/living room, bedroom and shower room, and such a property could likely generate a weekly rate of about € 800 for short-term summer lets.