Old job Catering manager.
New job Renting rooms in her home.
Start-up costs £180,000 (via mortgage) for renovations.
First year’s turnover £11,000.
Best move Doing short-term lets – if you don’t click with someone, you know it’s not for long.
Worst mistake Not setting boundaries. I used to find it irritating if there was someone in the kitchen when I needed to cook. I cook for students, but I now ask other guests to be out of the kitchen by 8pm.
Top tip You can earn up to £4,250 a year tax-free with the Rent a Room scheme (direct.gov.uk).
“I’ve met so many different people since I decided to rent out two rooms in our house. We’ve had all sorts of guests. Half have been doctors or medical PhD students, and the rest foreign language students, plus the occasional tourist. Some stay a few nights, others a couple of months.
We used to live in a two-bed flat, but moved into a three-bed house two years ago, which we converted to a four bed, as we needed more space. But to be able to afford the house, we needed two salaries. I didn’t want to work full time, so renting a couple of the rooms out seemed the perfect solution. We wanted to renovate too – both as an investment and to make it suitable to rent out.
It cost us £180,000 in total and took six months. We extended the kitchen, turned the downstairs playroom into an en suite guest bedroom, knocked a wall out in the sitting room, got new central heating and electrics, then repainted and recarpeted throughout.
We opened for guests last year. I’m very trusting, but I wanted to make sure the people staying with us were vetted. A friend suggested I try a lettings agency called Doctor In The House (doctorhouse.co.uk), which arranges short-term lets for medical, academic and professional visitors.
I’m also registered with five other agencies, from language schools like Frances King School of English in South Kensington, to hosts-international.com, which specialises in finding home stays for students.
Sometimes you don’t feel like making conversation over the breakfast table in the morning, but like any job, you soon get into it! The only downside to having people in your home is that you can’t have a blazing row, which is difficult if there’s one brewing!”
For enquiries, email Laura