- Founded in 2018, Swimply allows homeowners to rent out their private pool to strangers.
- Maryland residents have issued complaints about noisy “raucous” guests renting their neighbors’ pools.
- Local governments, including the state of Wisconsin, are seeking to regulate the practice of renting out backyard pools for extra cash.
A rental platform for private pools is helping homeowners earn extra cash from their backyard pools — but some unhappy neighbors are saying it’s a source of disruption.
Founded in 2018, Swimply allows users to list private pools out to strangers, who can rent them at hourly rates to host pool parties or simply enjoy a cool swim on a hot day. Although some may think the deal sounds sweet, residents have started complaining about their neighborhood being “disturbed” by renters, the Washington Post reported.
Residents of Maryland’s Montgomery County, located just outside Washington, DC, are currently debating the entry of outsiders into their suburban streets, per the Post.
“We are aware of the complaints and are working closely with the Montgomery County City Council,” a Swimply spokesperson told Insider. “We are working with hosts and the County to ensure a good outcome for all.”
Constance Kiggins of Chevy Chase, Maryland wrote to the Montgomery County Council about her experience with neighbors who use the Swimply app.
“(I am) writing to share my personal experience, in the hope that it will make you aware of what life would be like for those of us unfortunate to have neighbors with pools that rent them,” Kiggins wrote.
Kiggins continued: “I have nothing against these individuals fortunate enough to be able to pay $60 and up an hour to use a private pool, but this activity has greatly compromised our neighborhood. It is a tremendous nuisance”
According to the statement, Kiggins’ neighbors began renting their pool out to strangers on Swimply in 2020, and residents “down the block and behind them can hear the raucous.” Kiggins also asserts that it’s also unsafe for paying guests who don’t always abide by safety guidelines.
“We’re recognizing this is happening already, so we should create guardrails, rules of the road, and due process if there are bad actors,” Council member Will Jawando said, per the Washington Post.
Jawando introduced a bill that would require homeowners to register private pools with the county if they plan to rent them out, which would require paying additional taxes and a $150 fee for a license to operate.
The issues facing Swimply in many ways mirror those of vacation rental platform Airbnb, which has long received criticism for guests using stays as party venues and inciting noise complaints from neighbors. In 2020, the platform permanently banned parties and strongly enforces the rule around holidays by encouraging neighbors to report hosts who violate the rule.
“We operate in a similar fashion to other experiential sharing services like Airbnb,” a Swimply spokesperson told Insider in a statement. “Swimply homeowners open their spaces to users as private guests and have full say as to who can use their pool and how — pools listed on Swimply aren’t public pools.”
Maryland suburbanites aren’t the only ones taking issue with pool rentals. Communities across the US — including in San José, California, several towns in New Jersey, and the state of Wisconsin — are also seeking better regulation of pool rental platforms, the Washington Post reported.
Officials across the US have been working to either outright ban the rentals or create rules that would require listed pools to meet the same standards as public pools.
Swimply rentals list for an average of $45-$75, which could increase for a particularly luxurious pool, as previously reported by Insider. The platform currently has a site page for hosts’ neighbors to report them over disturbances and violations.
“If you believe a host is in violation of these rules, speaking to them directly often resolves the issue quickest (as we are all still human), a statement on the site read. “As a next step, we ask that you please report this host to our Community Care team.”