Would you lend your car to a stranger?

close up of a Car wash

There are some people who couldn't imagine a time when they'd let someone else drive their car - let alone take it away for a spin on their own. However, there are around 5,000 people in the UK who are prepared to hand over their keys - in much the same way as Airbnb users hand over theirs - and they're making a fortune in the process.

Chief executive of easyCar Club, Richard Laughton, says this is simply the sharing economy coming to the world of cars - making everyone better off in the process.

Renters can get a bargain, and they can track down someone lending out their car within easy reach of their house, so they don't have to slog all the way to a car rental place.

They have some protections in place, because the cars need to be owned outright, less than 15 years old, with fewer than 100,000 miles on the clock. You also have your insurance and breakdown cover arranged for the duration.

Would you rent out yours?

Owners can make decent money. Francesca Knott is a 29-year-old management consultant from Dulwich, and she has been letting people rent her car since 2013. She says: "When I bought the car, I was working full time, and the car spent a huge amount of its time sitting outside the house doing nothing. It felt like a wasted asset, so I decided to try renting it out."

Owners can either set up an online booking process, stating when the car is available and letting people book online, or they can take the approach Francesca uses, where people send requests and she checks if the car is free. This gives her flexibility.

She has rented it for two of the past three years, and now gets around two requests a week, which she agrees to a couple of times a month. She has made £2,000 in two years, which has covered her running costs, and she says: "I haven't actively promoted it, or accepted all the requests, so I could probably make twice this amount."

There are protections in place for owners too. There's a licence check - to make sure drivers don't have too many points on their licence, or too many insurance claims. Those who want to rent also take place in a video call, to confirm their identity. The company arranges insurance for any periods that the car is rented out, and takes a deposit from the driver to cover any excess.

It's not going to work for everyone. Francesca has had a couple of incidents when a driver went through the congestion zone without paying, and when one got a speeding ticket. She says: "easyCar make it easy to deal with, and you would never be liable to pay these things, but these things do happen."

Laughton agrees: "It's not going to suit everyone, and we know it's better for people who don't have a huge emotional attachment to their car, but if it does suit you, it could be a great way to offset the cost of owning a car."

Make Extra Money: Renting Your Car to Strangers

The cheapest cars to insure
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The cheapest cars to insure

Price new: £5,995

Dacia has made a big impact in the UK with its line of affordable motors.
The Sandero is the foundation of the brand's offering and is famed for being the UK's cheapest car.

With a group two insurance classification it's also one of the cheapest cars to insure right now.
The entry level Access model is sparsely equipped, but it has a practical interior, big boot and low running costs.

Price new: £8,060

The Seat Mii is a small city car which Auto Express praises for its spacious interior, good build quality and supple ride.

All models are in insurance group one, bar the group two Sport version.
The Mii is available in three-door or five-door styles, but both measure just 3.5 metres, making it perfect for getting around town.

Price new: £8,090

The Skoda Citigo was crowned Auto Express Best City Car 2013.

The magazine praised its low running costs and practicality as well as its grown up driving experience.
Like its Mii stable mate the Citigo has group one insurance in all apart from its top specification model, making it one of the cheapest cars to insure.

Price new: £8,265

The third of the Volkswagen's group of three city cars to make the list is the Up!

Auto Express says the Up! was 'born to rule' city streets with its small dimensions and lightweight body.
There's three versions of this fun city car; Take Up! has a group one rating as does Move Up! while the higher spec High Up! gets a group two classification.

Price new: £8,345

The Hyundai i10 is another car which can get you a cheap insurance quote thanks to a group one insurance rating across all the 1.0-litre petrol models.

Auto Express says the new 2014 i10 offers big car features in a small package. And for £8,345 you also get Hyundai's five-year warranty and roadside assistance package.

Price new: £8,995

Vauxhall has managed to squeeze one of its full sized Corsas into insurance group two.
Auto Express says the 1.0-litre ecoFlex model has the lowest insurance costs of any mainstream supermini.

The eye-catching design, solid interior and big-car features make it an appealing buy for drivers.

Price new: £9,575

The Smart car caused a bit of a stir when it first appeared thanks to its dinky dimensions and bold two-seat layout, making it very useful for driving about town and absurdly easy to park.

The Smart ForTwo is the latest incarnation, which keeps to the same formula; it still has only two seats and is one of the smallest cars on the road measuring just 2.5 metres long,
The entry level 0.8- and 1.0-litre models qualify for group two insurance.

Price new: £11,810

The Peugeot Partner Tepee 1.6 VTi is the passenger version of the Partner van and according to Auto Express easily the most spacious new car that currently qualifies for a group two insurance rating.

It's got a boxy shape that provides plenty of room and has sliding doors which make it a very practical and flexible family car.

If you're after something smaller the Peugeot Bipper Tepee, which is the smallest of Peugeot's family of Tepee MPVs, also gets a group two insurance rating.

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