I got into an interesting debate yesterday with a few former student colleagues about peer-to-peer rental. On one side was someone who had been Airbnb’ing her spare room in London during the summer months for a few years now and was a big fan of peer-to-peer marketplaces. On the other side was someone who was barely familiar with Uber and couldn’t bring himself to see the value in renting out his most valuable possessions to people he’s just met online. Inspired by the former’s conviction, I started to consider: how much could you actually stand to make if you rented out five valuable items in your house that you don’t use daily?
I already know that you can rent out a state-of-the-art drone for more than a reasonably priced Airbnb in Bloomsbury. However, to provide a more relevant comparison, I want to rather focus on standard household items that many of us would have lying around. The following are based on average daily rental prices on Fat Lama.
· Lawn mower: £15
· PS4: £15
· Digital camera: £12
· High-end power drill: £8
So, the rental of these five items totals £60 per day (ok, I somewhat cherry picked the items to get a nice round number – sue me). In and of itself, I think this is a reasonable income for a relatively small effort. What I find really surprising, however, is that you would make as much profit from renting these five items than you would from renting my friend’s spare room in Bloomsbury for a night or a £1,200 DJI Phantom 4 drone for a day. Considering that for a lot of people, most of the above items sit idle collecting dust throughout the majority of their lifespan, this begs an obvious question: why aren’t more people, like my friend above, making better use of peer-to-peer rental platforms?
As far as I’m concerned, this is a trick question: there is already a surprisingly large number of people in the UK getting secondary income through the sharing economy. As of the end of 2015, as much as 6% of Britons were estimated to be generating income through peer-to-peer commerce platforms. On the high-end of the spectrum, some of these people were reported to earn up to £5,000 a week, which is quite astonishing. And if the recent figures from PwC are anything to go by, the share of peer-to-peer platform of total commerce activity is only set to increase over the next decade. Whereas I’m not trying to argue that you should quit your 9-to-5 today and start your own business renting out your Macbook (which is essentially our business model), I do believe that this provides a hopeful prospect for those wanting to supplement their income by simply monetising the idling capacity of the belongings.