Do you live in a city strapped for parking, yet you own a driveway? Are you at work all day with your car, leaving that valuable real estate empty (and not making you a profit) all day long? You could be missing out on serious cash from people who want to rent a parking space. Some parking entrepreneurs have figured out how to turn empty driveways into cash, and they’ve developed apps to help others take advantage of this money-making opportunity as well.
The “parking app” trend isn’t new, but the first wave of parking apps was largely deemed illegal by the powers-that-be. Many early apps focused on public parking spaces, letting people about to vacate a prime spot tell others and pocket a “convenience fee” from would-be-parkers wanting first dibs on that spot. However, city attorneys and other officials put an end to that practice before too long.
Now, a second generation of “rent my parking space” has debuted, this time focusing on personal parking spaces in driveways or residential parking garages. List your space when you’re at work, on vacation or if you just have an extra spot that you don’t use. These apps let you decide if you’d like to rent out your space for an hour or two, or if you’d like to rent it for a whole year. They also let you name your own price on these cashless transactions.
Make Sure It’s Legal Where You Live
Before you plan on raking in the profits from one of these apps, make sure it’s legal where you live. The “rent your driveway” concept isn’t allowed in every jurisdiction.
For example, this type of rental is illegal in Portland, Oregon. Even if you own your driveway free and clear, it’s probably located in a neighborhood with residential zoning regulations. City officials believe that renting out your driveway is, in fact, a commercial endeavor better suited for an area with appropriate commercial zoning.
Parking Apps To Try
If you’re interested in making a few bucks off your empty driveway, and it’s legal where you live, here are a few apps to try out. Each app is a little different, but the premise is the same: You describe what you have to offer, set the price and availability, and the app takes care of the cashless transaction — the money just shows up in your account.
When selecting an app, keep supply and demand in mind. If an app has a lot of users in your area, it might be a good one to consider, since a high number of users means a high number of potential renters. However, be wary of using more than one app at a time since you don’t want double bookings.
Monkey Parking (San Francisco)
Monkey Parking was one of the original parking apps that received a cease-and-desist letter from San Francisco when the site was selling first rights to public, on-street spots. However, it’s revamped its offerings to comply with local rules and regulations. The site now offers two options: one for driveway owners and one for people who have parking spaces in a building. The company says you can earn up to $250 per month renting out your driveway for just a few hours a week.
The space exchange service allows people to rent spaces within a parking garage, typically between residents of the same building. The website lists a number of buildings around the Bay Area, and it even offers an online forum for building residents to communicate with one another. The app lets people list the space they have (or request one), set price and availability, and accept or ignore requests.
Just Park (U.K. and U.S.)
Just Park (formerly ParkatmyHouse) allows users to search for a space, whether for half an hour or a whole year, book the space, and “just park” there.
To list your space, first you create a listing, upload an image and provide driving instructions if necessary. Then, decide whether you want to allow instant bookings or if you’d prefer to review all requests before accepting them. Then, set your availability, plan a payment method and get started.
When you list your space, you set the rate (by day, week or month) and JustPark adds a 25% service fee, which the driver pays — you get your full fee. The site boasts that the service is still 60% cheaper than on-street parking, with central London spots available for £8 ($12.50) per 24-hour period. Daily spots in San Francisco tend to be in the $18-40 range, while the site also boasts spots in Chicago for less than $10. Just Park focuses on many destinations in the U.K., but also offers plenty of U.S. options (including spots in the Bay Area and other major U.S. metropolitan areas) as well.
To use it, just upload information about your parking space, a photo, description and your price. Spots in some Boston suburbs go for as low as $2.75 per day, while more centrally located spots range up to $19 or so for a day. Be sure to include when it’s available and you’ll be all set to let your parking space work for you.
Or Save By Renting Someone Else’s Driveway
Even if you don’t own a driveway, you can use these apps to save money.
If you’re headed to a busy area that lacks cheap parking options, using an app may save you a bundle. For example, if you’re going to a San Francisco Giants baseball game, leaving your car in a commercial parking garage could cost around $67.
That’s actually where the inspiration for one of these apps came from. Anthony Eskinazi saw plenty of empty driveways as he circled the block looking for parking before a Giants game, and he wished he could just rent one out. That led to him founding Just Park (originally formed as ParkatmyHouse), which now allows people to find a spot for the Giants game as low as $15, according to SF Weekly.
Your Turn: Have you rented a parking space using one of these apps? We’d love to hear about your experience!
Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.