How to rent your house out - without the hassle of guests staying overnight. Airbnb may still be the home rental site of choice, but the growing demand for cheap office space is being met by new websites which allow users to let their spare rooms out - just for the day
Airbnb may have spearheaded the sharing economy boom, but even putting horror stories of swinging parties aside, there are many reasons people may be put off becoming hosts - from having to relinquish the spare room’s use as an offshoot of the airing cupboard, to the faff of changing the sheets after each guest.
Good to know, then, that a new trend is growing which doesn’t require the hassle of putting anybody up overnight, yet can still garner you some cash from your spare square inches: the era of the home-office rental is upon us.
Websites such as Spacehop, which launched this month, are capitalising on growing demand for thrifty, interesting, co-working office spaces from young entrepreneurs and start-up owners. Anyone with a spacious room that stands empty during the day can now sign up to rent it out to anyone wanting to get down to business, free from the distractions of their own home.
Anyone with an unused space during the day could use Spacehop to make some spare cash while at work.
Hosts then get their house back to themselves at the end of the day - free from the demands of overnight guests, or the dangers of bumping into strangers in pyjamas on the stairs.
Whether it’s renting out your suburban sitting room to a Reiki therapist or your drive to a commuter in need of cheap parking, it seems there’s a company with a unique way of making your home work for you, while you’re at work.
"Jayna tries to be home to welcome her guests... but after showing them where to find the tea, she leaves them to get on with it"
Vrumi - which launched last year and styles itself as the “original disrupter of the workspace industry” - has a desk on offer in Leicester Square for as little as £20 a day, for example, while a barge in King’s Cross costs a mere £15; a bargain, given London office rental prices are some of the highest in the world.
Spacehop, meanwhile was founded by Matthew Beatty, a qualified doctor from Northern Ireland who put his medical career after spotting a gap in the market.
Jayna Cavendish, 27, first heard about the site when co-founder Luke Eastwood spotted her property on Airbnb and asked if she’d be interested in trying it out as a home-office rental. That was two months ago, now her East London studio is full of self-styled “hoppers” who pay £16.50 per person to use it between 9.30am-6pm.
“The beauty of it is there can be other hoppers there, so when you take breaks you can meet new people who might be able to help you out in the future."
For that fee, renters get to use three main rooms – a living room which Jayna encourages people to make calls in to keep the main space quiet, a large and airy studio space with wifi and a garden for people to smoke and relax in. (Different groups of “spacehoppers” can arrive in one day, so it creates an ideal space to meet people in.)
Jayna tries to be home to welcome her guests - “I think meeting people in person encourages guests to respect the place more” - but after showing them where to find the tea, she leaves them to get on with it.
Nick Martland, 24, is a keen spacehopper who has used Jayna’s place to run his entertainment company, The Other Guys. “I often book a day midweek, to get through some work calls and emails,” he says. “The beauty of it is there can be other hoppers there, so when you take breaks you can meet new people who might be able to help you out in the future. So it’s a good way of networking as well.”
Anna Hamill, 55, meanwhile, doesn’t even need to open the front door to her house in Twickenham - just a 10 minute walk from the stadium - in order to make money. She netted £1400 last year by renting out two spaces on her driveway, and one on her mother’s, next door, through JustPark during the Rugby World Cup and Six Nations Championship.
She charges £15 a stay (from which the site takes a variable percentage as commission). “It’s all done through the website – we just get a text message and an email to say someone has booked your space.”
Anna used the extra income to take her mum on a few weekends away, but it’s not just the money she enjoys. “I try to go and greet people if they’re parking with us, which is quite fun. During the World Cup you’d get people from different nations parking their cars, so I bought a pack of flags and flew them for every team that was playing.”
There’s only one catch: unlike an Airbnb rental, there is no “rent-a-room” relief, so hosts currently have to pay tax on every penny they generate.
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