As you read this you could be sitting in a potential money maker: your home. Renting out property for TV work or even giving up a room for a foreign student can bring in regular cash. Alison Brace explains all.
Are you already feeling the effect of the credit crunch? With the prospect of rising mortgage rates, does your home no longer seem like the safe haven it once was?
If mortgage worries are keeping you awake at night, then maybe it's time to put your house to work. How about renting it out for TV and film work?
For all you know, 22 Acacia Grove could have massive earning potential as the backdrop for TV shows and commercials or photo shoots. And it's not just mansions which coin in the bookings.
David Rudland, founder of film location website www.thespacemen. co.uk, says that "ordinary properties" are now in demand. "Sometimes it's grand stately homes, then it's minimalist loft apartments," he says. "Now it seems the advertising industry is looking for more realism. They want suburban homes that are lived in. It's a reaction to years of aspirational houses."
You can post pictures of your home on dedicated location websites for free. Bear in mind that filming can last one day or several weeks. And it won't stop at teatime.
But you can earn between pound;500 and pound;1,000 a day if your property is chosen. The Spacemen, for instance, take 15 per cent commission plus VAT. "It's a bit of a lottery if your house gets chosen, but like the lottery, you've got to be in it to win it," says David.
If this sounds like too much hassle, then think about renting out your garage or driveway for parking. You could be looking at up pound;100 a week in prime London areas for that unused bit of tarmac. In the provinces, you could earn pound;75 or more a month. If you live near a sports stadium you could just rent it out for major events.
Advertise in your local paper or newsagent or sign up to www.parkatmyhouse.com, a website that puts residents in touch with drivers.
Another way to earn extra cash is to take in a lodger. There are many NQTs out there particularly in south-east England desperately seeking affordable accommodation. Think practically, though: are your kitchen and bathroom big enough to cope with both of you in there at once?
If the long-term commitment of providing digs sounds like hard work, then it's worth thinking about hosting foreign students for shorter periods.
Teacher Gaby Allen decided to do just that and put her property to work when she, Jonny, her partner, and James, their seven-year-old son, relocated from London to a large house in Southbourne, Dorset, two years ago.
"It's a relatively pain-free source of income and nice to meet people from different countries and backgrounds," says Gaby, a teacher at St Thomas Garnet's School in Boscombe. "It fits in with my job and our family life."
One of the few downsides, she says, is not being able to go away for impromptu weekends as the students need to be looked after. The students, studying at the many local language schools, pay between pound;84 and pound;95 per week depending on the season, and live on the top floor of the house.
Gaby provides breakfast and a two-course evening meal with the family. "Sometimes I feel like a seaside landlady I haven't got the nylon pinny and slippers yet but it beats the London rush hour any day."
Check with language schools in your area for demand or see www.englishhomestayservices.com. If you decide to take in a lodger or foreign students, then be sure to take advantage of available tax breaks. Under the Government's rent-a-room scheme you're allowed income of up to pound;4,250 a year before paying tax.
Finally, if you spend most of your summer break away, it's worth thinking about letting your house out. Check with your local estate agents to see if they handle short lets, or visit www. short-let-register.co.uk for details.