More apps are popping up to help owners leverage their home in creative ways to earn extra money.

Some homeowners are earning extra cash to offset their living expenses by renting out their yards as private dog parks to people with pets.

Elizabeth Morton, a homeowner in Candler, N.C., charges $11.50 an hour per dog and earned $36,000 last year renting out her yard. She says she often has 10 bookings a day from pet owners eager to rent her fenced-in outdoor space. She plans to use the extra money to purchase undeveloped land and add to her real estate portfolio. “My main goal was to offer a fun place for the dogs and owners,” says Morton, who holds a broker’s license but no longer sells real estate. “I’ll get messages from dog owners who say their dog hasn’t been off leash in five years because there was nowhere safe to take them.”

Morton uses the website Sniffspot, which offers an Airbnb-like booking experience. Users can search for nearby homes that have fully fenced-in yards, agility obstacle courses or “dog water parks”—which typically means the property has a pool or is on a waterfront. Only renters and their dogs are allowed in the area during the privately booked visits. Hosts seldomly have any contact with their guests. And the big rule: You must clean up after your pets before you leave.

Homeowners are getting creative, renting out their backyard pool or extra parking space in their garage to make additional income. A growing number of apps are making the process easier.

Swimply, a platform enabling homeowners to rent out their pool by the hour, made a splash a few years ago when a host in Oregon earned $177,000 in less than two years. Hosts on Swimply average $45 per hour based on the pool size, yard amenities and demand, the company says. Swimply has since expanded to let homeowners rent out their home gym, pickleball or tennis court, and even a portion of their home, all by the hour.

In recent years, homeowners have been warming up to the idea of renting out their homes. Nearly 40% of homeowners surveyed last year said they have or would consider renting out part of their primary residence as a short-term rental, according to a study by® and Censuswide, a research consulting firm. Owners say they want to put the extra income toward their current mortgage or a future home purchase, the survey showed.

But house hacking does have some limitations, depending on where you live. Municipalities and homeowner associations have been cracking down on short-term rentals. Besides land-use limitations, homeowners also may run into problems with guests, including noise complaints and property damage. Many of the rental platforms offer liability coverage to hosts, but extra insurance coverage may be necessary.    

Still, more companies are popping up to accommodate renting out just about any area of a home. Apps like Neighbor and Stache enable homeowners to list extra space in their home for rent, from a spare closet to extra garage space. Platforms like PeerSpace and HomeStudio enable homeowners to rent out their properties for purposes of filming and photo shoots.

In 2016, David and Rebecca Adams created the Sniffspot platform to appeal to dog owners after facing their own troubles trying to find space in an urban setting for their dogs to exercise. Sniffspot, which started in Seattle, now operates in all 50 states and globally. As pet adoptions soared during the pandemic, demand for dog parks soared as well, says David Adams. “There are very few dog parks relative to the number of people who have dogs now,” he told GeekWire. “And dog parks aren’t always great for every dog.”

Morton knew she had a perfect setup to offer dog owners looking for space: She owns a 108-acre horse farm just west of Asheville. She started leasing portions of her property on Sniffspot three years ago. At first, she earned about $300 a month with about 10 bookings a week. Now, she offers two private sites on her property and earns $3,000 a month. She plans to soon open up another site, in Henderson, N.C.

“This may not be for everybody,” she says. “But I love animals, and I’m doing this for the dogs. A lot of people who use Sniffspot are just looking for a place to get their dogs outside. They may live in the city or have a tiny yard. They like to bring their dogs here and just let them run off-leash. The dogs can feel at peace here.”