What to Do With an Empty House? 10 Ideas to Put It to Good Use

A home with wood panelling and anthracite grey windows and doors. There is a small patio garden next to the kitchen
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An empty house refers to a residential property that is unoccupied and not being utilized by its owner or residents. It may be vacant for various reasons, such as being recently acquired, inherited, or due to temporary relocation, among others.

While an empty house may initially seem like a challenge or a wasted asset, it holds significant potential for various purposes and opportunities. It’s not unusual to find yourself in a situation where you need to put your old home to good use.

There are many ways to use your old home, whether that be selling, offering it as a long-term rental property, or renting it out as a short-term vacation rental to make some extra money.

How to Put an Empty House to Good Use

a large empty open plan living space
What to do with a vacant house?

This article will explore 10 different ideas for utilizing an empty property and will give you some advice on how to quickly update your house on a budget.

1. Sell Your Old Home

a house for sale with a for sale sign outside

If you have an empty property, maybe you could look at renovating it to increase its value and sell it for a profit. This is a viable option for those who have the resources, time, and expertise to undertake a renovation project.

Flipping an empty house for profit can be a rewarding venture, but it involves risks and requires careful planning and execution. You’ll also need to consider the costs of selling a home, like closing costs and fees for the realtors. 

Homeowners aren’t required to use a listing agent to sell their home, which doesn’t mean they need to sell it themselves. Instead, you can sell directly to a local investor and skip the real estate agent altogether. See this guide for selling a home without a Realtor.

2. Rent the Property

a house for rent with a for rent sign outside

Consider renting out your house if you’re searching for a means to generate income. It can either be rented as an apartment or leased to a tenant.

Renting out an empty house to long-term tenants can be a practical and profitable option for utilizing the property. By becoming a landlord and leasing the house, you can generate a steady rental income while maintaining ownership of the property.

Here are some quick tips if you are thinking about renting out an empty property:

  1. Research the local rental market to understand the demand for rental properties and typical rental rates in the area. Factors such as location, amenities, and property condition can influence the rental value. 
  2. Before listing the house for rent, ensure it is clean, well-maintained, and complies with local housing regulations. Make any necessary repairs, address safety concerns, and consider enhancing its appeal with cosmetic improvements.
  3. Install essential amenities such as smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and secure locks to meet safety standards.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the landlord-tenant laws in your jurisdiction to ensure compliance with regulations. Understand your responsibilities as a landlord, including tenant screening, lease agreements, security deposits, maintenance and repairs, and eviction processes.
  5. Market the rental property effectively to attract potential tenants. Utilize online listing platforms, social media, local classifieds, and real estate agents to reach a wide audience. Include high-quality photos, detailed property descriptions, and key features to make the listing appealing.
  6. Implement a thorough tenant screening process to assess prospective tenants’ suitability for the property. Conduct background checks, verify income and employment, and check references to ensure they have a history of responsible tenancy.
  7. Develop a well-drafted lease agreement that clearly outlines the terms and conditions of the tenancy. Include important details such as rent amount, lease duration, security deposit, maintenance responsibilities, pet policies, and any specific rules or restrictions.
  8. Once the property is leased, maintain open communication with tenants and promptly address maintenance requests and repairs. Regular property inspections can help ensure the property remains in good condition.
  9. Consider hiring a property management company if you prefer professional assistance in managing the rental property. If you want to manage it yourself, you can use property management accounting software to help you keep track.
  10. Stay updated on landlord-tenant laws and regulations to protect your rights as a landlord and maintain a positive landlord-tenant relationship. Be aware of tenant privacy rights, eviction procedures, and any changes to local rental laws.

3. Start a Bed and Breakfast

a sign in a garden saying farmhouse bed and breakfast

Consider opening a bed and breakfast if you want to generate money from your house in a more hands-on fashion. This is a fantastic choice if you’re searching for a more intimate means of monetizing your home’s equity.

Verify the rules governing short-term rentals in your area before opening a B&B. Also, check that the house is in good repair and meets all applicable standards. To run a bed and breakfast legally, you may also require a license or authorization from the government.

Depending on the quality and area of your home, you might be able to open it up to the corporate world for business travelers. Using a service like Trusted Stays allows homeowners to break into this market. So it’s worth a look if you have a quality home you want to earn from.

4. Transform It Into a Vacation Home

a vacation home with a swimming pool

Creating a holiday rental is a great option for homeowners who want to generate money from their empty houses but don’t want to deal with long-term renters. Turning your home into a vacation rental offers several benefits, including:

  • Generating a significant income stream. This additional income can help offset mortgage payments, cover property expenses, or provide extra financial freedom.
  • The vacation rental market has experienced significant growth in recent years. Travelers are increasingly seeking unique and personalized accommodations instead of traditional hotels.
  • Renting out an empty property as a vacation house provides flexibility and control over its use. You can choose when to make it available for rental, allowing you to use it for personal vacations or block out certain dates. You retain control over who stays in your home, as you can set house rules and screen guests to ensure a positive experience.
  • Converting your home into a vacation rental allows you to maintain ownership while deriving financial benefits from it. It offers an alternative to selling the property and can be an attractive option if you want to hold onto your home for future use or investment purposes.
  • Depending on your location and local regulations, there may be tax benefits associated with renting out your home as a vacation house. You can potentially deduct certain expenses related to the rental activity, such as property management fees, maintenance costs, and even a portion of mortgage interest.
  • Renting out your home as a vacation house can motivate you to maintain and improve the property.
  • One of the benefits of renting out your home as a vacation rental is that you can still enjoy it yourself. You can block out dates for personal use and have the opportunity to experience your home in new ways while deriving income from it.
  • Hosting guests from different places can provide an opportunity to meet new people and build connections.

5. Transform It Into a Home Office or Co-working Space

office space in a house with industrial furniture

Turning your old house into an office is a great option to generate money without dealing with renters.

By utilizing an empty house for a home office or shared co-working space, professionals can save on rental expenses for external office spaces. This cost-saving advantage can be significant, especially for freelancers, entrepreneurs, or small businesses operating on a tight budget.

Make sure you determine the market demand by researching the local market and assessing if there is a need for a co-working property or space. Then, assess the available space in your home and plan its layout for a functional co-working environment.

Consider factors such as the number of workstations, communal areas, meeting rooms, amenities, and facilities. Design the space to be ergonomic, inviting, and conducive to productive work.

6. Utilize It For Storage Purposes

a room with lots of storage boxes

Using an empty house as a storage facility can be a practical and profitable option, especially if you have ample space available. This is a fantastic choice if you’re seeking a more versatile approach to monetizing your property.

It’s important to research the legislation in your area before opening a storage facility. Also, check that the house is in good repair and meets all applicable standards. In certain places, opening a storage facility also necessitates obtaining permission or a license from the government.

Renting out storage space in the converted house can generate a steady stream of rental income. People often require extra storage for various reasons, such as during a move, downsizing, or a lack of space in their own properties.

By providing a secure and accessible storage facility, you can charge rental fees that contribute to your overall income.

7. Donate It To a Nonprofit Organization

lots of people holding up an ornament made of plants in the shape of a house

Donating an empty house to a nonprofit organization in need can have a significant positive impact on the community and provide several benefits including addressing pressing community needs, providing housing for individuals or families facing homelessness, and can give you a sense of personal fulfillment and satisfaction. 

It’s important to consult with legal and financial professionals to understand the legal requirements, tax implications, and potential benefits associated with donating an empty house to a nonprofit organization.

They can guide you through the process, ensuring compliance with regulations and maximizing the impact of your donation.

8. Turn It Into Your Own Private Office Space

a home office with big windows

By utilizing an empty house as a base for your home-based business, you can save on expenses associated with renting or leasing external office space. This includes costs such as rent, utilities, insurance, and commuting expenses.

Running a business from an empty house offers convenience and flexibility. You have the freedom to set your own schedule, work in a comfortable environment, and easily balance your personal and professional life.

The proximity of your workspace to your living area can enhance efficiency and reduce time wasted on commuting.

Operating a home-based business may provide tax benefits. You may be eligible for deductions on certain expenses, such as a portion of your mortgage or rent, utilities, and maintenance costs. Consult with a tax professional to understand the specific tax advantages available to you.

Examples of businesses that can be operated from an empty property include: 

  • Consulting services
  • Online retail or e-commerce
  • Professional services such as accounting, graphic design, web development, and virtual assistance
  • Home-based bakery or catering
  • Turn it into a fitness studio

9. Renovate and Turn It Into a House of Multiple Occupation

a living room with a big corner sofa, a coffee table and shelves

If you live in a University town or a town where there are a lot of young professionals, maybe look at turning your property into an HMO.

One of the primary benefits of converting a property into an HMO is the potential for increased rental income. With multiple occupants, you can generate higher rental yields compared to renting the property as a single unit.

Each individual occupant contributes to the overall rental income, allowing for a more lucrative investment.

10. Convert It Into a Creative Studio or Workshop

a camera and iPad sit on a desk space with a laptop showing photography editing software

Transforming an empty house into a creative space you can rent out to artists, photographers, or hobbyists offers several advantages and opportunities. Creating a creative space within the empty house provides an opportunity for collaboration and community building.

The advantages of having a dedicated space include convenience, customization, inspiration, focus, storage, collaboration, privacy, and personal expression.

It creates an environment that nurtures artistic growth, fosters a sense of ownership over creative projects, and contributes to a fulfilling creative experience.

Tips To Give Your Empty Home A New Look

Transforming an empty house into a property that can be rented out or used as commercial space may be daunting, so if you are wondering what to do with an empty property, here are a few ideas that won’t break the bank to get you started. 

Focus on High Impact Areas

Identify the key areas that will have the most significant impact on the property’s value and rental potential. Focus your renovation efforts on these areas, such as the kitchen, bathroom, and flooring.

Update the Kitchen

a kitchen with granite worktops and white gloss cabinets
We quickly updated our kitchen with peel-and-stick tiles

A kitchen update allows you to enhance the functionality and efficiency of the space. You can reconfigure the layout, add storage solutions, and incorporate modern appliances to make cooking and meal preparation easier and more enjoyable.

A well-designed and updated kitchen is a major selling point for potential buyers. It can significantly increase the value of your home and make it more attractive in the real estate market.

A modern, appealing kitchen is often considered a desirable feature for many homebuyers.

Updating a kitchen on a budget requires careful planning and resourcefulness. Here are some tips to help you update your kitchen while keeping costs in check:

  • Set a budget
  • Prioritize by identifying the key elements that are needed to improve the kitchen
  • Refinish or paint kitchen cabinets
  • Upgrade hardware and fixtures
  • Where possible, carry out the work yourself
  • Look for affordable alternatives when it comes to replacing countertops, flooring and backsplash
  • Shop for deals and discounts
  • Explore second-hand or recycled materials

Do Necessary Repairs

Before starting any cosmetic upgrades, address any essential repairs.

Fix plumbing issues, repair damaged walls, replace broken fixtures, and ensure that the property is structurally sound. This will prevent further damage and make the property more attractive to potential tenants.

Paint the Walls

It’s no secret that one of the most talked-about approaches to home improvement is painting the walls a different color. Whether you want to make a little change or a major one, painting your walls a new color is a fun and easy way to give your house a facelift.

Choosing a color scheme is the first step. Pick out hues that go well together and help to refresh the empty house ready for rental. You can never go wrong with white or soft grey paint throughout the whole of an empty house to give it a fresh new look. 

Invest in New Furniture

If you are looking to rent your empty house (furnished) or turn it into office space, investing in new furniture is a must! Think about buying stylish and useful pieces, like a comfortable sofa or a coffee table that help make your property look inviting. 

However, always try and use the furniture that you have first! It might be something as simple as moving furniture around in a room or swapping furniture around from a bedroom to a living room, for example. 

Enhance Curb Appeal

First impressions matter, so focus on improving the property’s curb appeal. Simple updates like trimming bushes, mowing the lawn, adding fresh mulch, or painting the front door can make a big difference in attracting potential tenants.

Utilizing an empty property presents an opportunity for various possibilities depending on your goals and circumstances.

Whether you’re looking to generate income, increase the property value, or utilize the space for personal use consider weighing the potential benefits and drawbacks of each option to make an informed choice that aligns with your needs.

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