Mecklenburg County vs the Sharing Economy

North Carolinians trying to beat the heat this summer may find their options limited. Mecklenburg County is the latest locality in the state to try and crack down on peer-to-peer rentals of private backyard swimming pools.  

Stephen Kent of the Consumer Choice Center is a Greensboro, NC native and has previously weighed in on the state of regulatory policy in North Carolina regarding what’s referred to as “pool sharing”. He had this to say about the news out of the Charlotte area, “This is ‘copy and paste’ government at its worst. Mecklenburg’s Division of Public Health is following the lead of the Orange County Health Department, which in 2023 started sending threatening letters to homeowners for using the Swimply app to rent out their pool by hour.  The sharing economy is constantly evolving, and local officials with too much time on their hands always find a way to get involved beyond their actual scope of interest.”

In the pages of Greensboro’s News & Record, on WRAL, and in the Washington Examiner, the Consumer Choice Center has made the case against this kind of meddling by public health officials in the sharing of private property. 

“It’s a perverse argument the health officials are making throughout NC and in SC as well,” said Stephen Kent, “You can rent your home on Airbnb with the pool listed as an amenity and not face scrutiny from the health department claiming your backyard pool is now a public pool in need of a permit. At its core, this is an equal protection issue for an operator like Swimply, who is being targeted by regulators for their newness, not because there are active health or safety concerns for consumers.”

The Consumer Choice Center spoke to Swimply hosts for our Fun Police podcast series in 2023, and in it, we heard the stories of homeowners looking to make ends meet using their backyard pool. Localities like Mecklenburg and Orange County are going after Swimply users in SC, NC, NV, and NY because it’s easier than challenging Airbnb. 

“Let consumers choose where they’d like to swim. Let homeowners make use of their private property within reason and in accordance with neighborhood bylaws. Let the people swim!” concluded Stephen Kent, “The NC state legislature needs to clarify the scope of laws pertaining to public swimming pools. Where there is uncertainty in the law, you always count on regulatory agencies awarding themselves more oversight authority. The legislature can clear this up for homeowners and should at the first opportunity.”



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