Lofty ambition for more cash? Try letting out your attic space

We’ve all heard of the BBC’s Cash in the Attic programme, but how about using your attic to earn some cash? One website is helping homeowners turn unused space in their property into income by bringing them together with people looking for an alternative to dedicated storage services.

Money can be made from your spare space, no matter how large or small, according to Ben Rogers, director of storemates.co.uk. His company lists whole double garages, large spare rooms and huge attics, but also cupboards and even space under the bed, popular with people living in cramped flats looking for somewhere to keep their Christmas decorations or small suitcases.

“Storemates is about half the price of commercial storage, saving money for the user, while the host makes money from otherwise unused space in their home, bringing in extra income for effectively doing nothing,” said Rogers. “The ultimate winner is the environment, as this is about using existing space rather than wasting valuable real estate on large storage warehouses.”

Although the money on offer is unlikely to match what you could get by letting a room to a tenant, that suitcase in the attic will not use up all your hot water or lose your spare key.

Among those using the service is Jennifer Thompson of Streatham, south London, who is retired. Three people are separately renting space in the loft of her three-bedroom home, paying her a total of £25 a week, which supplements her pension. “Storemates slots beautifully into my philosophy of helping people and minimising waste,” she said. “It brings in a little pocket money and I am happy to make use of otherwise wasted space in my house to benefit members of my community.”

How does it work?
If you have space to let, registering on the site is free: you give details, ideally with a picture, and a price for a week’s storage. A glance at the site last week revealed a variety of offers, from a 150 sq ft garage in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, for £41.13 a week, to two shelves in a cupboard in Battersea, southwest London, priced at £5.82 a week. Storemates takes a 15% cut.

To put that into context, 150 sq ft in a Big Yellow Storage facility can cost £169 a week, though it does offer a 50% discount for the first four to eight weeks, depending on location.

Both parties sign an agreement that sets out terms such as the level of security and access rights. Storemates emphasises it won’t allow anything to be stored that may put you or your property at risk; you won’t be expected to store barrels of flammable liquid, for example.

Storemates also offers a protection guarantee that covers losses due to theft or damage of up to £10,000.

Any money you make is taxable (while you can earn up to £7,500 tax-free by letting out a room, this concession does not apply to boxes or suitcases), but that may change this autumn. The government has announced plans to introduce a tax-free allowance of £1,000 year for “micro-entrepreneurs” who make extra cash from activities that include letting out storage space.

The measure was initially in this spring’s budget but was dropped when the general election was called, and would be backdated to the start of this tax year.