The Indianapolis Star, Aug. 26, 2011
Rent your house for Super Bowl XLVI . . .
MAKE $10K A DAY!
(But be sure you read all the fine print first.)
By Andrew Scoggin
The offer sounds enticing:
Rent out your home for the Super Bowl in February, and you could get big money – up to $10,000 a day.
It’s a quick, easy way to make some cash. At least that’s how signs posted across Indianapolis make it seem.
But it’s not exactly a sure thing, and officials are urging caution, whether going through home-rental companies or on your own.
“Obviously the signs that get put up, it’s an expectation that probably won’t be met,” said Bill Thomas, president and CEO of the Central Indiana chapter of the Better Business Bureau.
It’s a practice that started in 2008, Thomas said, with Super Bowl XLII in the Phoenix area. Companies charged hundreds of dollars, sometimes nonrefundable, to take photos of homes and post listings for them online.
It has been repeated since then in Super Bowl cities, with offers starting to appear in the summer leading up to the big game, Thomas said.
Dozens of companies offering Super Bowl home-rental websites can be found on the Internet, including Phoenix-based SportsEventRentals.com. The site, which has listings for other major sporting events as well, charges a listing fee of $49.95 to stay on the site for a year.
Site owner Todd Brenneman said the company operates like a high-end Craigslist, and also has a BBB “A-” rating. He said the company doesn’t use roadside signs because they’re “tacky.”
For the Dallas-area Super Bowl, Brenneman said about 230 homes were rented out, with competitive prices at $1,200 a night. About 20 houses, which he said were multimillion dollar homes, rented out for $5,000 a night.
That “up to $10,000” is probably a little far-fetched, Brenneman said. “Renting your home, nothing is guaranteed,” he said.
One company that advertises “up to $10,000 per day” for home rentals is Phoenix-based MajorEventRentalz.com. Owner Keith Johnson said he founded the website shortly after the 2008 Super Bowl.
The company charges a flat fee of $595 for photos and to be listed on its website for a year.
MajorEventRentalz.com rented out 15 to 20 homes for last season’s Super Bowl. The average asking price on the site was about $5,500, Johnson said.
The company has an “A-” rating from the BBB, with two complaints in the past three years.
The BBB’s Thomas recommended not working with companies that charge an upfront fee, even if it isn’t a scam.
“They really don’t have an interest per se in renting your home,” he said. “They just want the money upfront.”
In fact, there are plenty of horror stories that followed the Super Bowl in Dallas. One house-rental company, Phoenix-based Ticketholderaccommodators.com, drew numerous complaints in the Dallas area, and about 30 over the past year in general.
Unsuccessful rental clients complained that they did not get their deposit back, as had been promised.
The complaints reported that the company closed up shop, said Jeannette Kopko, spokeswoman of the Dallas-area BBB. The website URL is now blank.
But, she warned that scammers could be operating under a new name. John Ames, Colleyville, Texas, tried to rent out three homes — his, his daughter’s and a rental property — with Ticketholderaccommodators.com. He paid about $3,000 in deposits, and the listings were posted online.
Soon, the company told him it had found renters.
Ames said the company seemed legitimate, asking for details from renters such as a damage deposit. He said he checked with the Phoenix-area BBB, whose rating for the company was low only because Ticketholderaccommodators.com couldn’t back its “We’re No. 1” claim.
“If this was a scam thing, this wasn’t the first rodeo,” Ames said.
After an ice storm hit Dallas the week of the Super Bowl, Ames said, he could not reach the company.
Ames had hoped to make $50,000 to $65,000 on the venture, but he was out $3,000.
“Even though I look back at it, I don’t necessarily smell a rat,” Ames said. “Other than they didn’t give our money back.”
Some local residents are looking to rent during the Super Bowl without going through an agency. Mark Friedman, Avon, put his homes up for rent on Craigslist. He declined to say how much he’s asking for his three-bedroom condo, though he said one competitor was asking for $3,000 a day.
“If I don’t rent it, that’s fine,” Friedman said. “But I’d rather have more control in the situation.”
Friedman has done this before; he rented out his two-bedroom San Diego condo in 2003 for that season’s Super Bowl. He listed it online himself then, too, setting out insurance responsibilities for renters and taking a video record of the condition of the condo.
For a four-night stay for five, Friedman made $4,000.
Now, the retired 63-year-old said he’s just looking for some extra income.
The 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee does not have a stance on home rentals but points out that about 13,800 hotel rooms are available in the Indianapolis area.
That should be enough to accommodate the estimated 100,000 to 150,000 people expected to visit the city in the 10 days leading up to the Super Bowl, said Dianna Boyce, spokeswoman for the host committee.
She warned people to do their research before seeking to rent out their homes.
The Super Bowl rental signs have drawn the ire of at least one city department. Many signs found across Indianapolis violate city code because of how they’re placed.
Signs are not allowed in the right-of-way of intersections, which means anything from the sidewalk to the curb, said city Department of Code Enforcement spokeswoman Kate Johnson.
Inspectors remove the infracting signs, which could obstruct views and distract drivers, and throw them away. It’s really nothing new, Johnson said, as signs appear along roadways all the time.
But when another company sees a sign in that place, it tends to think it’s OK to post its own, Johnson said.
“They tend to multiply like rabbits,” she said.