BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Have you ever seen someone's backyard and thought 'wow, I would love to have a yard like that. A nice pool. A lounge area. A bbq.' Well, now you can get out of your own backyard and have fun in someone else's all in just a matter of a few clicks.
"It's a pool Airbnb is what it is," explains pool owner Shirley Petersen.
Swimply was founded in 2018 and their goal was two-fold: they wanted to give homeowners a way to list their backyards online and make revenue, and second, allow communities to connect.
Sonny Mayugba is the Vice President of Growth at Swimply and he says 2020 was a breakout year for the company which grew more than 4,000% over 2019 and rentals in Kern County have also exploded.
"In your county, we've had a 450% increase over last year and it's just seen incredible growth," said Mayugba. "You can put photos of your backyard. This photo you're seeing right here is a Bakersfield property called Paradise Pool and you can list all your amenities. As it turns out people have these amazing backyards with wi-fi, sound systems, BBQs, lounge chairs."
Posting your backyard on Swimply is free. The average rental rate is about $45 an hour and the majority of renters are using it just to swim with their families.
Shirley and David Peterson are new to the app. During the pandemic, they expanded their backyard oasis as a relaxing way to pass time and now they just wanted to share it.
"I think it's a great place for people to have a little bit of a getaway," said Shirley.
Katrina Soto says her backyard was just too big for her family and she wanted to share it. She says renting has been a great experience all the while meeting different people in the community.
"I think it's just a chance for families to come out and get a little break from the heat and come out and relax on a beautiful property. Kind of enjoy this space. Maybe they don't have a pool but it's an easy place for them to just come and getaway."
How much can I really make by renting my pool?
According to Mayugba "In your county, which is one of our best-performing markets, hosts are making $5,000 a month. but it just depends on how often they want to list."
What protections does Swimply offer hosts?
On its website, Swimply says it offers a $1 million insurance policy. But what does that really mean?
23ABC spoke to a representative from Swimply about how hosts can protect themselves if they rent out their pools. The answer is in their insurance policy.
"So Swimply provides A-rated insurance and we cover every single booking and experience. We provide a million dollars in liability insurance on top of any homeowners insurance that the homeowner has," explained a Swimply representative. "As well as $10,000 in property damage. And this is there to protect both sides of our marketplace - the host and the guest."
So what is covered in that policy?
Swimply says it will cover pool-related injuries to guests during a Swimply reservation. It will also cover any grill-related injuries during a reservation. In some cases, it will also help hosts cover damages to the pool equipment, outdoor furniture, or grills that are rented out.
And while this sounds good, there are a lot of other problems that could come up during a pool rental session that are not covered.
If someone decides to bring their pet to your pool during a rental and the animal is injured Swimply won't cover it. If people rent your pool and they're drinking a lot Swimply won't cover any damages related to alcohol consumption. If a fight breaks out and people are injured that is legally on the host.
Swimply's website also says that if there is a domestic violence situation or sexual assault during a reservation then that is on the host as well. On top of this, while Swimply will cover some damages it is not responsible for anything stolen from a pool or yard during a reservation.
If you're a host you're also allowed to set some ground rules when renting out your pool.
If you are looking for another way to cool off this summer there are several community pools throughout the city that are already open, such as the McMurtrey Aquatic Center on Q Street. It's $4 per person for a recreational swim or $13 for a group of 4. Two and under are free. The pool at the MLK Center on South Owens is also open and their recreational swim is $1 per person. And they also offer free meal services for ages 2 - 18 years every day, Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Each city pool is a little different when it comes to prices, hours, and services so make sure you check out the city website for updated information.