When thinking about renting out your possessions or part of your home, it’s natural to be wary. Concerns about safety and security will spring to mind, especially when it comes to dealing with strangers.
The vast majority of people who’ll contact you in response to your ad will be genuine. But it’s important to go into this with your eyes open. Knowing how much it’s safe to share openly online, and what information you should keep private, is key to protecting your privacy.
Our six featured businesses are experts at dealing with the quirks of human nature, and can advise you how to deal safely on the internet.
If your transaction involves making or taking payment online, look out for a secure payment platform (you’ll notice a padlock in the corner of your browser, and the web address for payment pages should start with ‘https’).
If you’re taking payment directly from the other party, watch out for cheques bouncing – cash or direct bank transfers are more reliable. Money transfers like Western Union are to be avoided.
What you do with the money is up to you… pay the bills, go on holiday, treat the kids. The extra income should be treated just like normal income, ie declared on your tax return if you normally fill one in. There is a special benefit to householders who rent out a spare room, which makes much of the income tax free.
Maintaining your Privacy
Whilst you do need to be somewhat open about yourself if you want people to trust and deal with you, you don’t need to reveal everything. Keep your physical and email addresses concealed, and only use reputable sites that offer a secure messaging service. That way you can communicate privately with the other party without revealing your details.
Some platforms will include extras like insurance as standard, and others will offer guidance on the types of insurance cover that suits your purposes, without selling it directly themselves.
There are rules and regulations around some of the money-making schemes we suggest in this booklet. For example, if you’re renting out a room, you’ll need to have a gas safety check done. Each company will be able to advise you before you go ahead.
- Be honest with yourself and others. It helps prevent confusion later on
- Get back to people quickly. Nobody likes being made to wait, especially if the answer’s “no thanks”.
- Add a picture to your profile. People like dealing with people, especially if they know a little about you.
- Trust your instinct. If you’re not comfortable with the way an individual is dealing with you, you don’t need to deal with them.
- Be safe. If a stranger’s coming round to view your room or pick up your powertools, make sure you’re not home alone.