25 Nov 2014

Want to borrow a dog? New safeguards for the sharing economy

Leo is a cocker spaniel with a difference. He’s not just a pet but a new economic paradigm. Leo’s owner works full time so she shares him with Ella, a PhD student who loves dogs but can’t afford her own. And that’s what the sharing economy is all about.

Rikke Rosenlund, the founder of BorrowMyDoggy, reckons she’s helped people through divorce and depression. And her company, though not making a profit yet, is growing fast.

So is the sharing economy as a whole, with people swapping pets, property – and even power tools. It’s expected to be worth at least £9bn a year in the UK by 2025.

But as more Britons share their assets, some are falling foul of regulations many never knew existed such as in some non-residential areas, local authorities insist on planning permission before renting out parking spaces. So tomorrow a report for the government will recommend relaxing the old rules, but adding some new safeguards.

The report, by the founder of Love Home Swap Debbie Wosskow, suggests:

Sub-letting your spare room should no longer be illegal as there currently is an explicit ban for tenants to sublet parts of their property for a period of time
People who car share should be allowed to make a profit by renting out their own vehicles
People who share resources should team up to offer insurance to users

A quarter of British adults have shared resources online in the last year, according to the charity Nesta. Airbnb has allowed many householders to make money by renting out their homes. But a minority has been unlucky, with one New Yorker saying he returned home to find his flat had been used for an orgy, and another claiming squatters refused to leave an apartment in Palm Springs.

Whether you’re looking to borrow a dog or even a driveway, tomorrow’s report proposes introducing a kitemark so you have a clearer idea what you’re getting.

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