Rent the Backyard is one of the rare startups with a name that perfectly suits what it does.
The company, which is part of Y Combinator’s current batch, builds studio apartments in homeowners’ backyards, which are then rented out for income.
Of course, if you already own a house with a yard, you could theoretically do this for yourself, without getting a startup involved, but co-founder Brian Bakerman told me, “The goal is to have no headaches for the homeowners.”
That means Rent the Backyard works with a partner to build the apartment, finances the construction, lists the property, selects the tenant, collects the rent and serves as the landlord. In exchange for all that, it has an ownership stake in the unit and keeps 50% of the rent.
The startup also handles the permitting, which co-founder Spencer Burleigh said has become much easier with recent changes in California law. In fact, he pointed to stories about how these changes have led to skyrocketing applications (16 in 2016, 350 in 2018) to build “in-law” units in San Jose, which is where the startup is focused for now.