Would you rent out your stuff?

A new website lets you rent your belongings out, so could you cash in on your stuff?

Have you ever splashed out on an expensive designer dress? Do you own a collection of top spec power tools? Are your premium kitchen knives the envy of all your friends? Then maybe you could start renting them out…

Warren Heal is the entrepreneur behind the newly-launched website RentMyItems.com. It lets you list items that you rarely use and rent them out to people in your local area.

He had the idea when he borrowed a neighbour's lawnmower. "It then got me thinking about the amount of items we have around the house that are rarely used and that we could make money from renting out, such as a tent, maternity wear, tuxedo, food blender and children's play equipment."

How often do you use your...?

Like many people, I have gadgets that I don't use that often, such as my bread maker and a carpet shampooer. Most of the year, these things simply take up space in my cupboards.

So I was pretty interested in the idea I could rent them out. But what kind of money could I make?

On its first day, RentMyItems.com was offering an X-Box 360 for £15 a week, a designer dress for £20 a day and a heated hostess trolley for £10 a day — so it's an eclectic mix of stuff.

Listing fees are a pound a month per item, with discounts for annual or bulk listings. The website suggests I work out the rental price by dividing the cost of my item by 30 and adding 25%.

That means my £100 carpet shampooer should be offered at £4 a day.

Heal explained: "Some people who would have previously bought items now do not have the disposable income to purchase such items and will therefore rent.

"The recession will also encourage more people to list under-utilised items in order to bring extra income into their households. It also provides our members who are unsure whether to purchase an item or not to try before they buy."

Now, that is all quite compelling and I like the idea of cutting back on expensive purchases. But the website takes no responsibility if a renter breaks the item they've borrowed — you're supposed to charge a deposit to cover that eventuality.

This is where I get a bit hesitant. Until I've seen how common problems are, I'm not ready to start trusting strangers with my wedding presents. I'm also pretty sure my home insurance wouldn't cough up if a customer broke something.

But it is a good idea, so it will be interesting to see if it works.

Free ways to borrow what you need

I really like the idea of borrowing expensive and rarely-used items instead of spending money buying them and cupboard space storing them.

So what other options do I have? One is the Freeconomy Community, which is run with the help of Mark Boyle. He's the author of The Moneyless Man and he gave Yahoo! his money-free tips earlier this year.

This website connects people with others in their local community to share tools, but also skills and even storage space.

It's also worth asking Facebook. Most of us aren't as friendly with our neighbours as people were in the past, so it's harder to borrow things from them. But the modern day has many perks and thanks to the internet, we can easily communicate with our acquaintances.

So it's worth letting your friends know what you need to borrow. Then there are no fees and it's a good opportunity for a catch-up.

Stuff for free

If storage space isn't an issue then maybe you can get things you need for free.

One of my favourite money-free concepts is the website SwapShop.co.uk where you give away your unneeded belongings and earn points. You can then use these points to 'buy' other people's items.

There are no fees, it's just a lovely community initiative.

Websites like Freecycle and Freegle let you post requests for stuff you need and advertise things you want rid of.

Members who have something you want or want something you have get in touch by email and you arrange collection. It really cuts back on unnecessary landfill.

The website Gumtree also has a 'Freebies' section, which it's worth browsing. You can post up requests

I'm a huge fan of initiatives like this and it's always worth asking, no matter how random your request. I received a top quality mincing machine simply by asking my local Freegle community (not that my efforts at jam justify it).

Felicity is Yahoo! Finance's new money-saving columnist. If you have a money-saving scheme you'd like to see tried out then let us know in the comment box below.

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