70ºF

Can’t take the heat? Now you can rent your neighbor’s pool by the hour

HOUSTON – Taking a dip is about the only way to beat the summer heat in Houston, but with many public and community pools closed right now, families are sweating it out. With a new website and app that lets you rent swim time from pool owners near you, you can still salvage what’s left of the summer and dive in.

Swimply launched in Houston last year. It’s like Air BnB for swimming pools. In Houston, the average pool on the website will cost you between $30 and $45 an hour.

How it works

Joslyn and Daniel Philley listed their pool on Swimply at the beginning of 2020. They said it was slow at first, but when the summer heat kicked in, requests to use their Oak Forest pool spiked.

“Anywhere from two to five people a weekend,” explained Daniel. “We have families come in, individuals come in.”

Each guest books the time and pays through Swimply. There are dozens of listings in Houston and surrounding cities ready to host your family.

The hosts set the parameters for guests. Some allow children or pets. Some don't. Listings let you know how many people can swim and what else is included, like a bathroom, towels and pool toys.

“We’ve more than offset our pool maintenance costs, any repairs,” said Daniel.

The CDC says there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans in swimming pools, but the Philleys and other Swimply hosts say they’re taking precautions to keep guests safe.

“We basically have a contactless entry to the pool,” explained Joslyn. “We close off all of our blinds, our curtains so as renters walk around the side gate.”

Hosts earn extra income

Swimply's co-founder Asher Weinberger says what started as way for pool owners to help defray the cost of maintenance has turned into a way to help them pay their mortgages.

“Lots of hosts are reaching out and telling us ‘Hey, I lost my job; but you guys are saving my family,’” Weinberger said. “And that’s very rewarding.”

Liability

If you’re a pool owner, you’re probably wondering about the liability of hosting people you don’t know in your pool.

When hosts and guests agree to Swimply’s terms on the website, they are electronically signing a liability waiver that says the guests can’t sue the homeowner and the homeowner can’t sue the guests.