Have an out-of-commission 1990 Volkswagen minivan collecting mold in your driveway? Maybe you moved to a new, highly walkable neighborhood that’s allowed you to retire a member of your family’s fleet? Live near an airport, sports stadium, transit station, beach, or county fairgrounds? Is your next-door neighbor an Amway distributor?
Meet ParkatmyHouse, an online booking service that allows those with available paved real estate to rent it out to those who actually need it (i.e., the guy who has been circling your block for the last 30 minutes in search of street parking).
Just launched stateside with the assistance of BMWi Ventures and billed as a solution to “one of the world’s most frustrating problems,” this Airbnb-esque service has gone gangbusters in Britain where more than 25,000 property owners have made a collective $5 million by renting out their driveways to drivers “in need of a convenient, safe and cost-effective place to park.”
Although the service got its start in U.K., it was inspired by founder Anthony Eskinazi’s parking woes while a student at UC Berkeley. “ … he [Eskinazi] visited the AT&T stadium in San Francisco to see the Giants play. As any sports fan knows, trying to find a spot near a stadium on game day is usually a futile exercise! So, when he saw an empty driveway a stone's throw away from the stadium, he realised that there was a great opportunity for both homeowners and drivers if only they could find a way of making contact. The idea for ParkatmyHouse was born!”
Although renting out your driveway to a stranger may seem like a logistical nightmare, the aim of ParkatmyHouse is to make the whole process easier. Both parties, the desperate driver and the spot-owner, benefit financially and psychologically. The driver can save money by not parking in more expensive garages or metered spots and can save precious gas (not to mention curb pollution and congestion) that would otherwise be wasted circling around looking for a spot to parallel park in. Plus, there’s the peace of mind that comes with parking on someone’s private property in lieu of some dodgy garage or far-flung side street.
For the homeowner, it’s a nice source of extra income, plus, as the ParkatmyHouse website points out, there’s the “added feeling of security that having a car in an empty driveway brings.” Listing your spot via ParkatmyHouse is free, but the company deducts a small commission on rental fees collected through the online booking system. And on the topic of rental fees, suggested parking rates are provided by Parkopedia or users can decide to create their own.
Those with a driveway to spare can set up the spot’s availability through ParkatmyHouse, explaining what days and times the driveway in question will be available. Through this method, the owner approves the booking before someone actually rolls up in their driveway. Or, there’s the instant booking system that allows a driver to locate an available spot online and book it immediately without consent from the owner. So how does a driver locate a spot? Using the ParkatmyHouse website, they simply type in the address of the location they need to park near and choose from available rental spots in the area based on cost, location, features, and reviews from past users.
That said, ParkatmyHouse isn’t yet fully launched in the U.S. as the company is in the process of building a network of folks with spaces to spare and interested drivers. Boston, D.C., and New York are being rolled out first. And by the way, this isn’t just limited to homeowners … churches, businesses and essentially anyone with excess parking can list through the service. Interested? Enter your ZIP code or location and ParkatmyHouse will instantly give you a ballpark figure of how much you could make in a year by renting out a parking spot on your property. (It looks like some quirks in the system need to be worked out — because renting out a spot in my Brooklyn neighborhood appears to be more lucrative than renting out a spot on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Now if I only had a driveway …)
Once ParkatmyHouse is ready to go, do you think you’ll use it?
Also on MNN: 10 rules for renting a vacation home