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People are renting out their backyard pools. How safe is it?

swimming pool rentals
Posted at 12:51 PM, Jul 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-16 14:51:00-04

Erin Moriarty is not the kind of person who likes to slow down. When the pandemic hit last year, this 3rd-grade teacher from Waltham, Massachusetts, saw an opportunity and began selling and branding her own line of paddleboards.

She’s now successfully launched a new company called Castle Island SUP Co.

“I’m hoping to sell about 500 boards by the end of this summer,” the mother of two said while sitting at her kitchen counter.

Always about the side hustle, Moriarty recently discovered another one floating in her backyard. She is now renting out her backyard pool on a new app called Swimply. She charges strangers about $130 an hour to use her pool; it’s been an incredibly popular and lucrative venture.

“As people learn about the fact that this website exists and it’s possible to rent someone’s pool, people are interested,” Moriarty explained.

As the company’s founder, Asher Weinberger believes Americans have really come around to the whole idea of sharing their homes, cars, and even pools.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to the broader sharing economy. Thank you to Airbnb who has made this sort of thing normal,” Weinberger explained.

Swimply has spent two years working with insurance companies to provide hosts with a million-dollar insurance policy. To keep renters and hosts safe, customers who receive below five start reviews are dropped from the platform.

“You aren’t going into someone’s home. It’s a side entrance into a backyard, lots of us have borrowed a pool from friends and neighbors,” he added.

There is plenty of money to be made in the pool rental market. About 17% of Americans own a pool, hot tub, or spa. Swimming is the fifth most popular activity in the U.S.

But every year, about 6,700 Americans visit an emergency room due to injuries related to pools.

Len Spada is a personal injury attorney who has settled hundreds of cases related to pool injuries and even drownings. He says some homeowners are often on the hook for tens of millions of dollars when it comes to lawsuits brought on by pools.

“To me, as someone in the business, it’s terrifying to me. I see so much exposure and risk to the homeowner or host. If your insurance isn’t covering you, I would be concerned,” Spada said.

For people considering renting out their pools, Spada’s biggest piece of advice is to check your home insurance policy. Even though Swimply comes with a million dollars in coverage, homeowners may have clauses in their homeowner’s coverage that prevent them from renting out a pool, potentially leaving a host exposed if something happens.

“It’s different than inviting friends over who, you know, who might have a different respect level for your property,” Spada added.

Back at her pool, Erin Moriarty has weighed the risks and is considering getting an umbrella policy for extra coverage. She sees the potential for her backyard pool to keep her financially afloat.

“Anything you can potentially share, there’s a market there to make money,” Moriarty said.