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BELLAIRE • MEMORIAL • RIVER OAKS • TANGLEWOOD • WEST UNIVERSITY

Mi Casa Es Su Casa

Residents rent their homes during Super Bowl

Tracy L. Barnett
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Mark Ward, Phebe Chen

SUPER BOWL B&B Like many others throughout Houston, Phebe Chen and husband Mark Ward (pictured with dog Javier) decided to take the leap and rent out their home during the Super Bowl. (Photo: lawellphoto.com)

Phebe Chen was sharing a drink over happy hour when the group started talking about the upcoming Super Bowl Feb. 5 and the recent trend of renting one’s house to sports fans.

“Someone said, ‘Oh, gosh – your house is perfect for Super Bowl. You should rent it out!’” said Phebe. “I said no way, partly because I’ve never rented a house before, and also my 98-year-old dad lives with me, and so I didn’t think it would be something I could take on.”

Fast-forward a few weeks, and Phebe began browsing on the subject. “We are also at the same time in the process of building a smaller house outside of Bellaire, and I had just redone a bunch of things outside and inside the house, and I thought, ‘Hey, maybe I should consider it, since the house is going to be in tip-top shape now.’”

Her main hesitation was her father. Then she discovered that he could temporarily stay at a local respite care facility. So she sat down with him, and he gave her the thumbs up.

“I realized it could be a good change of pace for him,” said Phebe. His usual caregivers agreed to continue their visits in the nursing home. “So that made me decide – ok, I’m going to do this.”

She called the city of Bellaire to get a permit. The city inspected the home and gave her a certificate of occupancy good for six months. The cost: $80. “They just wanted to make sure the lights are on, that it’s not in violation of the fire code, etc.”

She checked different websites with different options; one, Super-Bowl-Rentalz.com, specifically targets Super Bowl fans and charges $249 per rental. Another one, eventhomes.com, has different levels of service that go for different prices, starting with a free listing and topping out at $79 for a listing with greater visibility. Then of course there’s Airbnb.com, the all-purpose home-rental behemoth, which costs nothing but takes a percentage of the rental fee. HomeAway.com, based in Austin, is another such service.

Phebe decided to start with Airbnb since it’s free; if she doesn’t get a renter soon, she said, she could always decide to sign up on another one later. She plans to ask for a sizeable deposit to cover any damages that might occur during the renters’ stay. Her lease specifies that she has 30 days to discover any problems before returning the deposit.

Leash Yu, an insurance specialist with the Leash Agency, has been inundated with calls recently from people who are interested in leasing out their homes.

“We are getting lots of inquiries (mainly from our high-net-worth clientele) on this subject,” he wrote. “They are asking, ‘If I rent my home to someone during Super Bowl, does my homeowners insurance cover the home if something happens?’”

Because of all of the questioning, he made a few phone calls to the company’s luxury carriers.  Two of them said, “absolutely no coverage;” one said, “Yes, but we’ll non-renew coverage if they sustain a claim,” and one said, “Only if the client pre-approves the tenant.” 

He offers the following advice to everyone considering this option:

1. Contact your insurance agent to verify coverage. 

2. If the agent says there is coverage, have that put that in writing.

3. Regardless of whether the insurance company will afford coverage during this short-term rental, the homeowner should have the tenant secure an insurance policy for “special events” that covers rented premises. This insurance policy should name the homeowner as an “additional insured.” The insurance policy should cover the home in case of a full loss of the property. Consult the agent for the best possible solution.

Some websites, like Airbnb, offer insurance coverage as a part of their agreement, although it may not be enough to cover the entire worth of the property. Others do not. Super-Bowl-Rentalz.com, for example, only connects potential renters with homeowners and offers marketing services, said managing director Bill Ryan.

His site’s highest listing thus far is a River Oaks mansion that goes for $10,000 a night. The deal includes daily maid service and a driver. Such add-ons help sweeten the deal, Ryan said. “We’ve seen a lot of creative add-ons, from personal limo driving to gourmet meals cooked every night to tours of the area.”

Editor’s note: Communities have varied policies about renting, so property owners should check with their local government and homeowners associations.

See more on how to legally rent out your home for Super Bowl on KPRC

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