MY MONEY

The simple way to cash in on your empty parking space

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If you live close to a train station or in the middle of the city and have space to park an extra car, you could generate thousands of dollars annually, according to the peer-to-peer platform Parkhound.

Users also benefit: they can secure affordable, accessible long-term parking, often in high-demand areas.

Parkhound has over 40,000 spots nationally from a variety of peer-to-peer spaces and car park operators. Since 2015 members, also called hosts, have earned more than $20 million collectively.

Where to start

If you live close to a train station or in the middle of the city and have a spare parking space, you could be making thousands of dollars a year.

Parkhound, a subsidiary of Spacer, is an online marketplace for storage and parking.

It connects drivers who want convenient parking with local property owners who have an extra space, such as a garage, carport, driveway or allocated space.

Pricing, costs and requirements

It's free to list with Parkhound on its website and app, which is available on iTunes, and the platform claims some of its hosts make as much as $3600 a year. Parkhound takes a 10% cut.

Users (motorists) pay an 18% commission - a service fee, including GST, that covers the platform and customer support service, according to Parkhound.

The value of your parking space depends on several factors. Location, availability and the type of space - for example, whether it's a local garage or a undercover parking in the CBD. During the sign-up process, Parkhound recommends a price based on the going rate in the area where the space is located.

It also recommends hosts check the price is lower than local on-street and off-street parking. Ultimately, Parkhound is a free market, so hosts can charge as much as a motorist is willing to pay.

When hosts are listing, Parkhound recommends they ensure all information about the garage or space is as accurate as possible.

Most drivers are looking for long-term parking, usually for six to 12 months. That said, some hosts are making money from short-term leases through month-to-month arrangements.

Parkhound says spaces can be leased for a few hours, a whole week or 24/7 - it doesn't matter.

According to the legal team at Parkhound, it is up to hosts to determine the legality of using the service in their area, which may include contacting the local council or consulting applicable bylaws.

It's also essential you don't overlook insurance. Mitchell Sweeney, from IAG-backed ShareCover, warns:

"Listing an item or service on the marketplace economy is a great way to make some extra cash for you and your family. [However] to ensure you and your assets are protected, we recommend you research what insurance cover is required to protect you from the unexpected risks - like theft, accidental damage, or liability. Traditional policies such as home and contents may exclude items listed on the marketplace economy."

Parkhound does have public liability insurance and, in the event of damage, a spokesperson for the platform says it is always available to help.

Don't forget your tax

If you rent out a space through apps such as Parkhound, Spacer or Carparkit, the money you receive is assessable income. This means you must declare the income in your tax return, and you can claim deductions for associated expenses.

Moreover, you may also need to pay CGT when you sell the parking space, or the property attached to the additional space, according to the tax office.

What you need to know

  • Anyone with spare space for car parking can earn an average of $200-$300 a month with Parkhound.
  • The platform currently has 40,000 spaces for long-term parking.
  • At the beginning of June, 24,284 members had made just over $20 million from renting out their spare spaces.
  • Parkhound claims motorists waste an average of 125 days in their lives searching for parking.
  •  The site is free to join. Parkhound takes a 10% cut of a member's (or host's) parking income.
  • Unique features, such as augmented reality, make it easy for people with empty spaces to measure the area and gauge the appropriate price to charge. They can scan their empty car parking space through the app to get a price estimate for daily, weekly and monthly rental.
  • Competing websites include Carparkit, ParkMe and Cheap Parking, while Perth residents can take advantage of its CPP app.

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Anthony O'Brien is a small business and personal finance writer with 20-plus years' experience in the communication industry.
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