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This story was updated at 12:30 p.m. Feb. 2, 2023, to correct the name of one of the companies in the article. It is SniffSpot, not Bark (the latter was identified in council staff packets, which was inaccurate. A staff member in Will Jawando’s office called Thursday to clarify).

Legislation introduced by County Council Member Will Jawando (D-At-large) on Tuesday aims to help jump-start the so-called gig economy—whether that be homeowners renting out space for swimming pools, a home gym or other similar opportunities.

Jawando’s council colleagues threw their support behind the bill on Tuesday, saying it would help entrepreneurs who are looking to make some extra income off their properties. An accompanying zoning text amendment is needed because it would allow for shared economy uses in the county’s zoning code, according to Livhu Ndou, the council’s legislative attorney who focuses on zoning matters.

The bill would set up a licensing process for prospective homeowners, who must meet certain conditions. Some of those include that the total number of guests over 18 renting said space must be limited to six, and that the hours of operation for rentals are between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. The overall rental period would be less than 12 hours, the legislation states.

It also requires that the applicant/homeowner pays licensing fees and taxes, which would go to the county’s admissions and amusement tax fund, according to the bill. Those costs would be paid annually as part of the rental sharing license.

County Executive Marc Elrich’s office would need to establish the amount of fees, and the county’s Director of Health and Human Services would need to approve or deny an application for a rental sharing proposal, within 30 days of receipt and fees and taxes paid, the bill states. The director’s office must also inspect the property every two years.


In an interview, Jawando said he had heard that some residents have been renting out part of their homes—like pools and gym space—which technically is illegal under current county law. He added that he’s heard about gig economy apps like Swimply and Sniffspot—which allow residents to rent out their pools or backyards to use as dog parks—being used locally though he did not know how many currently are operating in the county.

“I think it’s just an evolution of the sharing economy,” Jawando said. “People are doing this more, and you want to provide a safe, regulatory framework, and it will also be a new revenue source for us.”

Swimply and Sniffspot have seen tremendous growth across the nation in recent years. In 2021, there were 250,000 bookings on Swimply, compared to 40,000 bookings in 2020, according to an article in TechCrunch. Sniffspot, which lets users rent out their backyards to use as dog parks, registers about 10,000 bookings per month, according to the New York Times.


The need for regulation and oversight on the rental economy is important for multiple reasons, Jawando saidadded. It allows neighbors and other community members to weigh in on each application, and it makes sure that venues like swimming pools and other spaces are safe.

But also, by making the practice legal, it might make people more aware that they can rent out spaces of their home to short-term use, like a garage for car repair, or other uses.

“I’m excited about it,” Jawando said of the bill. “It’s not something that people would think about off-hand, but its uses are wide-ranging. And especially coming out of COVID, where people are staying home and staying in their communities, I think it’s a good time to do it.”


A public hearing for the bill is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. March 7 in Rockville. It will be assigned to one or more council committees after that, as council members and staff said they needed to figure out who exactly has jurisdiction over the legislation’s contents.