7 ways your home can make money for you

Who knew you could be living in a money-maker? Learn the seven ways you can make money off your home.

By Anne Bokma

Make money off your home: Idea 1-2
©iStockphoto.com/frentusha
The roof over your head is likely the biggest asset you'll ever own. Trouble is you don't see any money from your house until you sell it – unless you follow the lead of some ingenious homeowners who have figured out a way to cash in on their homes while still living in it. You could be sitting on a pile of dough without even realizing them. Here's how you can make your home make money.

1. Become a landlord

The plan: Rent an apartment in your home. It could be a basement bachelor, a renovated attic, an entire floor or a detached, renovated garage. Renting an apartment can allow you to buy a house you might otherwise not be able to afford. "It also allows many seniors to hang on to their homes," says Susan Wankiewicz, executive director of the Landlord's Self-Help Centre, a nonprofit service that helps small-scale landlords in Ontario.

KA-ching!: Rents range from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000 a month. When Rosalind Stefanac and her husband bought their first home in Toronto in 2002 for $300,000, they specifically looked for a property with an apartment that would help ease the mortgage payments. They rented out their basement apartment for $700 a month, which covered half the mortgage.

Reality check: It takes more than paint and wallpaper to make an apartment suitable to rent. Each municipality in Canada has individual standards regarding renting, and you'll need to ensure the space meets zoning codes. Stefanac spent about $10,000 on drywall, insulation, carpets, wiring and a new fridge – and it took 14 months of rent money to recoup the cost.

Being a landlord can also be stressful, especially when your tenant gets behind on the rent. After Stefanac's first tenant lost his job, he couldn't always make the rent and sometimes paid her partially with five- and 10-dollar bills. Carefully screen potential tenants by getting references, especially from previous landlords.

2. Put up a parking lot
The plan: Rent out your driveway or garage to people who need parking space (usually in major urban centres) or storage facilities for items that need to be kept indoors over winter, such as boats and motorcycles. Free classified ad websites such as www.craigslist.org and www.kijiji.ca have categories specifically devoted to parking and storage spaces for rent.

KA-ching!:
Norm Gill, a retired school district employee whose Vancouver home is close to B.C. Children's Hospital (where parking spots go for $10 a day), rents out two spaces in his four-car garage for a total of $300 a month. "We built a new home and didn't realize how much it would cost, so this brings in a little extra money," he says. Rebecca Gruihn, a film student at York University in Toronto, rents out the parking space that comes with her apartment for $75 a month. "It's not a lot of money, but when you're a student, every bit helps," she says.

Reality check: You'll still need to shovel the driveway and perhaps chase after rent money.

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