West Islanders rent their backyard pools

New website matching popular hosts and tenants despite concerns

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Would you rent your pool to strangers? Several West Islanders are dabbling in residential pool rentals through the new Swimply website, despite red flags raised by the Lifesaving Society and the insurance industry.

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Much like Airbnb, where owners rent their homes for short-term rentals, owners use Swimply to rent their pools by the hour. The company started in California in 2018 and has been in the Montreal market since last year, but it caused a stir this summer.

About 70 swimming pools in the Montreal area are listed on the Swimply site. Several hosts are in the West Island, including Surinder Chugh, a Beaconsfield resident who heard about Swimply on social media. He has already rented his rear inground pool four times this summer to two families and twice to the same couple.

“It’s an advantage for me. I have to (maintain) the pool, but I don’t use it during the day because I’m working… If someone else can use it, great, ”said Chugh, who rents his pool for $ 36. and $ 40 an hour. . “If I have plans on the weekends, I put it on the Swimply calendar that it’s not available, otherwise I rent it.”

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The August heat wave resulted in queues at public swimming pools and Chugh said, “Particularly because of COVID, people don’t want to be in crowded places.”

Chugh doesn’t hesitate to let guests use his powder room, accessible from the patio door in the family room. It also accepts dogs. “My dog ​​is going in the pool and I get it,” said Chugh, who stays indoors during guest swims.

Rates on the website range from $ 16 to $ 60 per hour in Montreal and surrounding areas. Hosts keep 85% of the rental fee, which includes insurance – $ 1 million in liability and $ 10,000 in damages, but owners can still be at risk.

“If you have commercial activities in your house, your car or your swimming pool, you must call your insurance to change the nature of your contract. Home insurance covers everyday life, not renting or hosting someone to use your home for money, ”said Pauline Triplet, representative of the Quebec office of the Bureau d insurance of Canada.

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Swimply Vice President of Growth Sonny Mayugba said “tens of thousands” have used Swimply safely “across the platform” and “hundreds of pools are located across Canada”. He added, “We have many layers of trust and security mitigation in place. We have 24 hour customer service and we train our guests. We have had a few small claims for broken furniture, but no, we haven’t had any major liability claims.

The rental of backyard swimming pools raises questions for Raynald Hawkins, general manager of the Quebec Lifesaving Society. “Who will take responsibility for safety rules, such as never swimming alone, never diving in above ground pools or in the shallow end of an inground? And generally, an inground (backyard) pool is not suitable for diving activities.

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Despite the concerns and a short pool season, there are about 100 potential hosts on the Montreal area waiting list, according to Mayugba. “When you have a limited supply and increasing demand during peak season, it creates a great ecosystem for our market. “

Chugh’s rental experience has been positive, with the exception of one case where a family wished to stay longer but refused to extend their reservation through Swimply. “You have all kinds of people doing all kinds of things,” Chugh said. However, he didn’t let a stomach flop stop him from renting his pool again. Chugh recommends that Hosts get to know their guests through Swimply before confirming a reservation. “You decide if you want to hire them. “

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