One effect of the coronavirus pandemic has been the shutdown of public facilities like beaches and pools. While much has reopened this summer, that could change with the spread of the delta variant, and an opportunity highlighted by these shutdowns remains: renting out your own pool by the day or the hour.
If you’re willing to part with the use of your pool at times, you can join the ranks of folks like Jim Battan of Portland, Oregon. A recent Wall Street Journal article cited him as Exhibit A about the potential here, saying he expects to earn this summer the same $111,000 he and his wife spent on the custom-built pool eight years ago.
Battan uses a service called Swimply to handle the bookings for a levy of 15% from the hosts and 10% from the guests. Co-founder Asher Weinberger told the WSJ that most pool owners charge between $35 and $50 an hour for the pool and amenities (grills and sound systems, for instance) and take in on average between $5,000 and $10,000 a month.
'Swimply' speaking, business is booming
Weinberg says most customers are local family groups of five to seven people. The company says it has seen about 122,000 bookings since January 2020 from the 13,000 pool owners using its services in 125 markets across the country.
There are others, too, as the WSJ piece points out, including Peerspace, Airbnb, and Vrbo that offer variations on the theme of day rentals. Or if you’re so inclined, you can just spread the word yourself on your local social media like Nextdoor or Facebook.
Any way you do it, expect to spend some time and energy on pool renting, including keeping the pool, bathhouse, and everything else around it clean and ready, including the pool itself, the latter including contending with a chlorine shortage this summer. (And most people stay home while their pool is being rented, Swimply says. They’re just not using it themselves.)
But if the pieces and profit add up, backyard pool renting might not only make sense to existing pool owners but to homeowners considering taking the plunge for a new one themselves.
Liability and insurance concerns, renting out your personal space
Renting a pool is in a sense much like renting the home itself, with the same need to let go while staying close, if you live there, and to give up use of the property at in-demand times, much like the rental property you might have that also serves as a vacation home.
Insurance, of course, is a consideration. About 380 people drown in pools or spas in the United States each year, about three-fourths of them children age 4 or younger, according to the most recent figures from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and there are far more nonfatal injuries. Plus, there’s always the risk of plain old damage to the property.
Check with the rental site you use to see if it offers liability and property-damage coverage. Swimply offers liability and property-damage coverage. Of course, check with your insurance company to see if it allows that kind of rental, either as part of your policy or with a specific rider.
And speaking of rental property, if you own a house with a pool or are renting one, that’s a whole other set of considerations. Work that out with your tenants or landlord, in that case. Maybe split the revenue and the costs.
The Millionacres bottom line
While letting strangers use your private swimming pool might take some getting used to, there’s certainly money to be made there. Done right, it can be quite profitable, and the risks can be mitigated through insurance and watchfulness. And you just might find your renters aren’t strangers anymore, especially repeat customers.
New friends aren’t such a bad thing in these times of social isolation. Just hope they aren’t quite like Jethro from the classic “cement pond” scene on the Beverly Hillbillies, unless you’re OK with clothing optional.