When Jule Zacher, a 48-year-old software consultant, decided to take a new job in Silicon Valley last September, she was both elated and torn. The new position was terrific, but it meant leaving behind “a quintessential Toronto home, a beautiful house and yard that I had redone from top to bottom.”

At first, she thought about selling, but quickly realized she could make more money by renting it. “I can save that as a retirement investment, and defer any tax implication,” she says. She found CHBO, or Corporate Housing By Owner, a website that charges property owners a $279 fee to advertise to corporate relocaters. Within two weeks, she had a six-month lease with a tenant paying $5,000 per month, covering her expenses while she builds her new life in California.

Add Zacher to the growing list of accidental landlords. Some rent their homes outright, or just their basement; others are taking in boarders. What they have in common is that they’re suddenly sizing up their abodes as a source of cash, not just a place to put their feet up and watch Dancing with the Stars.