For most of us, having a driveway opens up the possibility of creating a safe space in which to keep your car. Maybe you’ll clean it there, maybe you’ll care for it there, but that is where it can live, safely out of reach of passing traffic. But for many United Kingdom homeowners, a driveway is a business instead of an automotive safe haven — and business is booming.
In 2021, UK homeowners raked in more than £26 million (the equivalent of $34 million in the U.S.) by renting out their driveways or spare parking spaces to drivers in desperate need of place to stay. That data comes from private parking rental firm Your Parking Space.
According to the site, the majority of this income came from drivers in London, the UK’s capital. In that city alone, more than £11m ($14.7m) was spent on private parking spaces in 2021.
However, that figure is dwarfed by the amount London council’s make each year from parking fees. According to a report from 2019, councils across the capital took more than £400m ($536m) from parking fees that year.
But how does this new wave of private parking attendants compare to established policies and pricing that councils enforce?
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Well, for a start, while the popularity of private parking has risen in the past three years, it’s still dwarfed by council offerings.
In Islington, the London borough where I used to live, council parking is split between spaces reserved for residents, which require a permit, and pay-and-display parking, which often comes with a maximum stay of three to six hours.
On my old road, there were 100 households on the street, according to Royal Mail. To accommodate all those addresses, the road in question had spaces for 75 permit-holders to park their cars, four pay-and-display bays, and two spaces with electric charging ports.
In contrast, there are currently just four spaces listed on Your Parking Space within a five minute walk of my old address. These spaces are in both off-street driveways and small car parks attached to apartment blocks.
Prices range from £3 ($4) per hour to £6 ($8) per hour, and some spaces can even be booked out for a month at a time at a cost of £225 ($300).
In contrast, renting a garage in the local area would set you back £265 ($355) per month, according to one listing. And, if you can live with local on-street parking, the average parking permit in Islington costs £19 ($25) per month, depending on the type of vehicle, its age and its CO2 emissions.
But permits are limited, and councils prioritize disabled users or blue badge holders.
And it isn’t just the complex parking regulations in London that have driven an upswing in private rentals.
Your Parking Space uncovered earnings of more than £500,000 ($670,000) in other UK cities such as Brighton, Birmingham and Liverpool. In Manchester, it saw drivers spend more than £1.4m ($1.8m) on private parking spaces in 2021.
So if you can make £200 ($268) a month renting out your driveway, should you consider adding one to your house?
Well, another recent study suggested that adding a driveway to your house could increase its value by as much as 10 percent. And, one real estate agency suggested that paving over the front garden to create a parking space could add as much as £50,000 ($67,000) to the value of a property.
So, when the average cost of creating a driveway in the UK is £3,500 ($4,700), adding value to your house and making £200 ($268) a month renting the space out seems like a no brainer.
And it isn’t just the UK where homeowners are offering up their spare spaces. According to another space-renting site here in the USA, people can make up to $400 a month offering their un-used driveways to drivers in need of a place to park.
But the question is, would you rather have a small mound of cash or a knackered old MGB to wrench on in your driveway?