Car owners renting their vehicles to strangers through website

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by BRENDAN MCLAUGHLIN / NBC

NWCN.com

Posted on March 20, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 20 at 4:09 PM

Kevin Paul Martyn loves his Toyota Prius for its fuel economy and high-tech feel, which explains why so many people want to drive his car.

"I get probably 10 times as many rental requests as I can fulfill. I end up turning them down all the time," Martyn said.

Martyn is one of about 50 people in the Tampa Bay area currently making their cars available for rent on RelayRides.com, a peer-to-peer website based in San Francisco that promises to put your idle car to work for you.

"The average owner on RelayRides is making about $250 a month, with many other folks making upwards of $1,000 a month," RelayRides spokesman Steven Webb said.

Car owners post photos and other details on the site and name their price, which averages $30 to $50 a day, but can go much higher.

RelayRides handles the money exchange, taking 25 percent. For that you get a million-dollar liability policy with each rental.

"In the worst-case scenario or a minor fender bender, you're not on the hook and your insurance is not on the hook," Webb said.

What's to keep someone from trashing your car? First of all, renters have to have good driving records and both the renters and the owners grade each other based on communication, punctuality and cleanliness.

"I've never had any problem except it being cleaner," Martyn said.

The fact that he's being less wasteful by putting his car to use more of the time is more important than the money.

RelayRides operates in cities stretching from Bellingham to Olympia and Yakima and Wenatchee. The company claims that in most states there's no law against this and you won't get your insurance policy canceled for participating. Still, you might want to check your carrier before you join.

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