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This article was published on September 7, 2011

How to rent out your home, car, toilet and more on the Internet

How to rent out your home, car, toilet and more on the Internet
Nancy Messieh
Story by

Nancy Messieh

Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Fol Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Follow her on Twitter, her site or Google+ or get in touch at [email protected]

The Internet has made it easier than ever for people to connect. Social networks, email and video conferences are just a few of the ways in which the world has become nothing more than a global village thanks to the World Wide Web.

Another way in which the Internet is connecting people is through rentals. You can rent out your home, car or even toilet on the Internet, or if you’re looking to rent something yourself, you can easily hire a book, an outfit, or pretty much anything that comes to mind. We’re not talking about classifieds or sites like Craig’s List either. We’re talking about sites dedicated to the facilitation of renting just one thing.

In no particular order, here’s a list of 7 of these sites.

Share your loo with Cloo

We’ve all been there. You’re out and about, you’ve had one too many coffees, and suddenly you’re desperate for the loo. Ok maybe some of us have been there more often than others, but seriously, what do you do when you can’t find a clean public bathroom? Do you head in to the first restaurant you see, and make an embarrassed bee-line for the toilets, making sure not to make eye contact with any of the staff? With Cloo, you might not have to do that anymore. Instead, you can avoid making eye contact with friends of friends as you use the toilets in their homes.

So how does it work? If you find yourself in a bind, by connecting Cloo to various social networks like Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook, you can find out which friends of your friends are in the area. Send them a request, and when they accept, you can head over, bump phones (I’m serious) to transfer a payment token, and then get on with your business. (Although in some of the more desperate situations, we’d think it should be acceptable to pay after you’re done.)

By renting out your bathroom to semi (or in some cases complete) strangers, you get to make a bit of cash in return.

Now, the question is, would you actually do it? Sure, we’ve all been in desperate situations where we think to ourselves that we’d do anything just to use a bathroom, but on the flip side, would we let a stranger into our bathrooms, let alone our homes? I’m not so sure.

In their own words:

CLOO’ is based on one simple truth— we all have to pee. Though in urban cities finding a clean, available restroom is difficult & frustrating. That’s where CLOO’ comes in.

CLOO’ is a community of registered users who choose to share their bathrooms and make city-living easier, while earning a small profit. Using social media connections, CLOO’ shows what friends you have in common with the host, turning a stranger’s loo into a friend of a friend’s loo.

To find out more about how Cloo works, check out the video below:

Rent out your car with Getaround

We’ve already interviewed the folks over at Getaround, a San Francisco based startup which turns pretty much anyone with a car into a one-man Hertz. Currently only available in the San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego, by signing up using Facebook, you can rent out your car to anyone in the area.

Getaround screens drivers and vehicles, and a rating system ensures that the service remains up to par. What’s really cool about how Getaround works is that you get a nifty little gadget installed in your car which lets renters unlock it using an iPhone app. The iPhone app can also be used for the entire rental process from start to finish, but if you don’t own an iPhone, you can just as easily get it all done on Getaround’s website.

Now a car is certainly not as private as a bathroom, but there are some people who don’t like letting their friends, let alone strangers, drive their cars. This service is not for you. To put you at ease, Getaround does provide insurance for each rental, so you don’t have to feel too nervous about letting a complete stranger behind the wheel of your car.

In their own words:

We enable car owners to safely rent out their underutilized cars to a community of trusted drivers. People in need of a car can rent one by the hour using the Getaround website or iPhone app.

To find out more about Getaround, check out The Next Web’s interview with the team behind the service:

Rent out your home (or country) with Airbnb

Another San Francisco based startup, Airbnb is probably the one company that really had to learn the lesson the hard way about the risks involved in encouraging users to let complete strangers into their homes. Now that the dust has settled, the company is continuing to expand its services, allowing users to now rent homes for an entire month.

By signing up for a free account, you can share your home when you’re out of town, or even rent out a room while you’re around, and listing your space on Airbnb is free. A rating system, where both renters and owners can leave each other reviews is one of the ways in which Airbnb tries to ensure a safe experience for all involved, along with certain information requirements, insurance for home owners, and more. Rentals could be anything from a room in a home to an entire country, although that will set you back a hefty $70,000 a night.

For frequent travelers, or anyone on a budget, Airbnb provides an interesting alternative to hostels, motels and hotels. Airbnb certainly isn’t the first service to ever encourage people to open up their homes to complete strangers; Couchsurfing is a popular option among backpackers and budget travellers. Still, like any service where you let people you don’t know into your homes, there’s a risk involved no matter how many reviews or guarantees there are; nothing is 100% foolproof.

In their own words:

We connect people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay. Guests can build real connections with their hosts, gain access to distinctive spaces, and immerse themselves in the culture of their destinations. Whether it’s an urban apartment or countryside castle, Airbnb makes it effortless to showcase your space to an audience of millions, and to find the right space at any price point, anywhere.

To find out more about Airbnb, check out their video below:

Share a spot in your car with BlaBlaCar

There are a ton of reasons to encourage people to carpool – from being environmentally friendly, saving gas money, and for some, getting home a little faster because you get to use HOV lanes., a site based in Spain, with UK and France versions as well, encourages users to list their commutes and routes so that other users can join them for the ride, for a fee of course.

The majority of rides shared on and its sister sites are road trips, but the Cairo-based site, EgyptCarPoolers, which we’ve covered in the past, encourages users to share a seat in their car, during their daily commute to work, and unlike all the other sites listed here, there is no financial reward for the good deed. Unfortunately, the site only goes so far as providing tips for staying safe, and no screening process is in place to ensure that users are who they say they are.

To find out more about the Europe-based service, check out the video below:

Rent books with Bookswim

Want to rent a book? There’s a site for that. While you can’t rent out your own books, Bookswim is like an online library, or maybe more appropriately, a ‘Netflix for books’. College students can also use eCampus to rent expensive text books they know they’re only going to use for just one semester.

How does Bookswim work? You pay a monthly fee and can rent up to 11 books at a time. Once you’ve returned those books with the included prepaid mailing envelope, you can rent more.

In their own words:

Remember when reading was supposed to be an easy escape, before retail prices for books skyrocketed and the library had waiting lists seven months long for new releases? We believe every reader has the right to affordable, hassle-free reading with no due dates, late fees, or endless waiting lists to crack open the latest hardcover bestseller.

That’s why we’re America’s favorite online book rental club, delivering New York Times bestsellers and enduring classics to our members’ doorsteps. Enjoy reading the books you want at your pace. Return your finished books in our included prepaid return bags, and we automatically ship your next selections. Affordable, convenient, and simple to use, BookSwim lets you enjoy reading again.

Rent the latest designer threads with RentTheRunway

With designer outfits available from the likes of Calvin Klein and Bagdley Mischka, the New York based startup RentTheRunway gives fashionistas the opportunity to rent out trendy clothes and accessories they might not be able to otherwise afford.

I’m not so sure how I feel about wearing an outfit that’s been out on the town with someone else, but in a world where people are renting out their toilets, sharing an outfit with a complete stranger doesn’t seem so odd.

With RentTheRunway simply search for the look of your choice, select the dates you’ll need it delivered, and you get it to keep it for 4 to 8 days, and then send it back – and the company takes care of the dry cleaning.

In their own words:

It’s a community designed to fill the needs of women…who know and love high fashion, who want to look glamorous for all their nights out and experiment with new brands without the anxiety of investing in piece after piece. Users benefit from the expertise of professional stylists and the shared wisdom of like-minded fashion-forward members. Through exclusive relationships with top designers, is able to continually update its stock with the latest pieces. And to think: it all started with that age-old complaint: I don’t have anything to wear. Now you do, and you’re going to look amazing!

Rent just about anything with Rentalic

There had to be at least one site that makes it easy to rent just about anything you can imagine. With Rentalic you can list anything from your car, to your home, to yourself (or at least your services, that is). The site is built on the idea that we tend to hoard possessions that we don’t really need, so why not rent them out, make some quick cash and help someone out?

Rentalic does go to great pains to provide a long list of prohibited items, so if you were thinking of renting out food (not sure who would expect that back), gift cards, slot machines and pesticides, among many other items, Rentalic is not the site for you. Not that there’s any site where we expect you could rent any of the items on that list, gruesome or otherwise.

In their own words:

Rentalic provides an innovative online rental marketplace that enables person-to-person renting among friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors. Rentalic enables individuals or businesses to rent items, services, and real estate to/from each other. Rentalic’s platform helps the “people who need stuff” connect with the “people who have stuff”. Rentalic’s philosophy of “Rent | Share | Be Green” fosters reuse and sharing of goods, thereby reducing the carbon footprint while enabling people to save money and earn money.

To find out more about Rentalic, check out the video below:

Have you come across any interesting, or bizarre, sites that let you rent just about anything you want? Let us know in the comments.

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