Lantern file photo
This upcoming football season, expect to see more promotions and advertisements for a new rental company looking for students to lease out their homes on game day.
University Football Rentals, a service where students can rent their homes out to weekend guests, is expanding to Ohio State.
Mike Doyle, co-founder of University Football Rentals, said the company was born out of a problem at the University of Notre Dame.
Doyle said during football games, 80,000 to 100,000 fans are in town and there is a lack of hotel infrastructure in South Bend, Ind., to support them all. Doyle cites situations of family and friends driving roughly an hour to Chicago to find weekend accommodations . This is when the four co-founders of University Football Rentals, all graduates of Notre Dame, realized not every resident or student in South Bend attends every game.
“So we built up this website as a platform to connect homeowners and football fans,” Doyle said.
The website allows homeowners, primarily graduate students, to list their properties for rent during large-scale events in university towns.
Doyle said the average cost of renting a home for one weekend would be $1,400. The cost of a one-bedroom home would be $700, and the cost of a five- to six-bedroom home would be $2,400.
“Quite a few homeowners make over $5,000 a year,” Doyle said. He said for a 15 percent service fee, University Football Rentals hosted about 3,000 guests in 150 homes for six games in South Bend last season.
After filling the niche at Notre Dame, Doyle said, “We realized this is a problem not just in South Bend, but several towns around the U.S. with huge football fan followings.”
Doyle said University Football Rentals has been expanding nationally for the past year and called OSU and the Columbus area natural candidates.
“We’re looking for towns that have a great football tradition at the school, a huge fan base coming back. Columbus fits both of those. They have one of the largest football associations in the country,” he said. “It’s kind of a natural fit for us.”
Wayne Garland, property manager of Buckeye Real Estate, said he would warn OSU students to be aware of the legality of renting their homes through a third party.
“Be very careful because it probably is a violation of your lease,” Garland said. “You’re turning over property that is entrusted to you to someone you don’t know, and I don’t think it’s a very wise thing.
“If a student of ours, who was leasing from us, did something like that, they’d be taking on a great deal of risk because you don’t know who or what or how they’re going to treat the residence.”
Garland acknowledged that while people in smaller college towns might find this program more attractive, Columbus generally has enough hotel rooms to supply the demand.
“I don’t think (University Football Rentals) will be successful here because there are more options,” Garland said.
Inn-Town Homes, University Apartments and Pella Company declined to comment.
Saaransh Mahna, a third-year in law school, said he would be unlikely to rent out his apartment for game day.
“I enjoy going to football games myself and I need a place to come back home afterwards,” Mahna said. “I think there’s a greater demand for tailgate space than there is for a bed.”
However, Christian Coffin, general manager of the Hilton Columbus Downtown hotel, said during peak demand times such as football weekends, there typically are not enough rooms to meet the demand.
“Having another option out there for the traveling public is not necessarily a bad thing,” Coffin said.
Two other hotels in the campus area did not return requests for comment.
University Football Rentals has expanded to other Big Ten schools as well, including Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State and Wisconsin.
Renting on Penn State’s campus is common, said Marce Pancio, a resident of State College, Pa.
“I know people who rent their homes, and they love it. They get the same renters who want to come back,” Pancio said.
Pancio said faculty and staff at Penn State take advantage of this program as well.
Bradley Rettler, a graduate student in philosophy at Notre Dame, said he and his wife find it cheaper to go on a weekend getaway while renting out their home than to stay in town over football weekends.
“Most grad students don’t have quite the school spirit as undergrads, so they’re more willing to be gone during that time,” he said.
Rettler said he and his wife have been renting their home out for about a year and the experience has been positive.
“We made a great deal of money for just three days,” he said.
Rettler said the rental price of his home, about a mile from campus, was $1,650 from Friday at 5 p.m. to Sunday at noon. After subtracting service fees, he and his wife netted a little more than $1,300.
Rettler said he sees this program as an opportunity to make another 50 percent of his $17,000 stipend by renting his home out for the entire football season.
While he does feel concerned about renting his home out to strangers, University Football Rentals allowed Rettler and his wife to communicate with the renters prior to an agreement to build trust. The couple has already rented its home out for graduation in May and hopes to rent it out for the next football season as well.
So far, there is only a sample listing on the OSU tab of University Football Rentals’ website.