Make money off your spare space with Wahi

Jessica Anne Wood looks at Wahi, a peer-to-peer marketplace where people can rent out both commercial and residential space.

Do you have a spare space that is just sitting there? In the current tough economy, many people cannot afford to waste money on things like commercial or residential space that is not being used. While Airbnb is a platform allowing people to rent out their spare rooms, or in some cases their whole house, a South African start-up is opening this up to the commercial area too.

Taking its meaning from the words ‘get’ in Swahili and ‘space’ in Maori, Wahi focuses on giving South Africans the opportunity to become earners and entrepreneurs.

Changing the rental space

“We give property owners the opportunity to generate bonus annuity income from their spare space and also allow renters to achieve cost efficiency and convenience by converging online,” says Michael Hodgson, co-founder of Wahi.

“Our main objective is to utilise technology to vastly improve the industry, where we believe it is currently inconvenient and too expensive. You could see it as the Airbnb of spare space, where the commodity is something many of us own (without even knowing it) and many others (often our neighbours) also need,” Hodgson adds.

Using Wahi

Wahi is set to be a competitor to Airbnb too. It told Moneybags: “Wahi is a marketplace for all types of space, both residential and commercial. In other words space in the home (room, garage, parking space etc.) and business space (warehouses would cater for inventory overflow of SMEs, as an example). We connect the owners of space to those that need space.”

The cost of a rental lies solely with the renter. The closer a rental space is to public amenities or the more features that it offers, the more desirable that space will be, and as such, location plays a role in determining the price of a rental space.

“To ensure a quick rental, we encourage Renters to price to the market. It is always a good idea to benchmark their space with other spaces available on Wahi at the same time and make it cheaper if it has less features or vice versa. For new Wahi renters, we recommend a starting Wahi rent rate of approximately R70 per square metre, adjusted by a premium or discount based on the relevant features,” says Wahi.

Wahi makes its money through a 17.5% service charge, of which 15% is payable by the tenant and the remaining 2.5% by the host. Meanwhile, Airbnb charges a service fee of between 3-5% for hosts, and 6-12% for guests.

Combating fraud

In an environment that is primarily based online, fraud can be a challenge as people pretend to be someone else and/or rent out spaces that don’t exist or aren’t theirs to rent out. To help combat fraud on the Wahi platform, all hosts and renters undergo checks to verify their identity through social media, email and their cell phone number.

“Once on board, users provide detailed profiles and information about their space or goods to be stored, as well as reviews and ratings from their previous transactions. Secure messages are sent through the site so users can ask questions or check any details before agreeing to any storage agreement,” elaborates Wahi.

Payment takes places on the website through PayFast, once a renter and host have reached an agreement to keep member information secure.

Further reading:

Does Airbnb take your safety seriously?

How we make money through Airbnb

How to make money through Airbnb