Columbia homeowners rent out houses for SEC home games

Thursday, August 9, 2012 | 7:13 p.m. CDT; updated 9:45 a.m. CDT, Friday, August 10, 2012

COLUMBIA — Columbia homeowners Misty and Brian McKee are what you'd call rental rookies.

From a friend who'd heard about it from a neighbor, they found out about Columbia Football Rentals, a website that caters to visitors seeking places to stay in or near Columbia during home football game weekends.

The McKees decided to look into it, which Misty McKee said resulted in long discussions with her husband.

“It’s kind of nerve-racking to rent your house to total strangers,” Misty McKee said. “Eventually, we just jumped on board.”

From Friday night to noon Sunday on game weekends, the couple will rent their three-bedroom home near Hinkson Field — a pretty easy 1.5-mile walk from Memorial Stadium — for a price ranging from $1,275 to $1,875, depending on the game.

The popularity of certain games — especially the Tigers' match-up Sept. 8 with the University of Georgia — has left hotels without rooms to rent and many people still searching for places to stay. Like the McKees, other Columbia residents are helping to fill the gap between supply and demand.

When Barbara Hasselriis, another newbie, found out about the hotel situation in mid-Missouri, she researched online and decided to use a different website, Columbia College Weekends, which will allow her to be home while guests are present.

“I prefer people to go personally through me,” she said. “I like to talk to people myself and get to know a little more about them.”

Whereas Columbia Football Rentals charges a commission for listings, Columbia College Weekends requires flat rates of $179 per year for basic listings and $229 per year for premium listings. Hasselriis, however, was one of the first five people to sign up, so she lists her two available bedrooms at nightly rates of $150 apiece for free.

Since she will be home during her visitors’ stays, Hasselriis said she plans to offer transportation to and from the games because parking is often a challenge.

So far, she said, people have only inquired about the Georgia game and Arizona State game Sept. 15, which is family weekend. She thinks she'll have both weekends booked by the end of August.

And while Hasselriis is looking forward to meeting new people, she suggests anyone interested in renting their houses contact their insurance providers as well as the City of Columbia for policies regarding house rentals.

Rental regulations

Homeowners who decide to rent out their homes have to apply to the city and have them inspected, said Leigh Britt, Office of Neighborhood Services' manager. The inspection cost is $42, and the certificate is good for three years, she said. It can be renewed for $25 when the three years are up.

The city has been working with listing websites and homeowners to communicate what they are required to do to be in compliance with city regulations. But the city is also preparing to communicate with neighborhoods about possible problems with football weekends.

“How rentals could affect neighborhoods during football weekends is something the city is aware of,” Britt said.

“Noise and trash could be detrimental to the neighborhood atmosphere, so the city is working to keep peace, keeping in mind how it will affect the quality of life in those neighborhoods," she said.

Misty McKee is looking forward to getting past the concern of leaving strangers in her home unsupervised, a Columbia Football Rentals policy, while her family stays with relatives in town. They booked the house for the Georgia game and hope to book other weekends soon.

“I’m a little nervous,” she said. “All our things are here, so I’m hoping and praying they’ll have a good time but be respectful of our home.”

Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.

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Richard Saunders August 10, 2012 | 3:01 p.m.

Oh great, yet another opportunity for the city to further expand their "services."

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to figure out why, if they're cutting the budget, is it still growing ever larger?

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