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Posted on Sun, Aug 5, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

U-M football weekends at center of new home rental business in Ann Arbor

By Laura Blodgett

Ann Arbor homeowners looking to make a few extra dollars this fall can now seek out some help to rent their home during University of Michigan football weekends.

America's Oldest Net Zero House color corrected v.2.jpg

Ann Arbor residents Matt and Kelly Grocoff's net-zero home on Seventh Street is listed for rent on the website.

Courtesy Greenovation.TV

Rent Like a Champion, which was started in South Bend, Ind. in 2006 by three Notre Dame graduates, is now expanding to the Ann Arbor market. The company secures and lists local homes available for weekend rental and finds renters via its website

“[We’re] trying to find places with major football teams where there are not that many hotel rooms,” said Mike Doyle, CEO of Rent Like a Champion. “U-M obviously was at the top of the list. With a stadium in town and the campus surrounded by homes, all the hotels aren’t right there.”

In Washtenaw County, about 3,300 hotel rooms usually are booked during football weekends, said Chuck Skelton, of Hospitality Advisors Inc.

In addition, he said football fans coming to the games will spill out in to Detroit and Jackson hotels. The past few years, however, not all football weekends were sold out, said Skelton, with occupancy rates holding at 95 percent.

Last year, Rent Like a Champion expanded to the home of Penn State University, and currently is launching in 12 other cities including Ann Arbor. In addition to football games, Rent Like a Champion hopes to book during other major events on campus such as graduation weekend.

The Ann Arbor website was launched two months ago and allows people to list their house on the website for free. Six homeowners signed up in the first 2 months.

There are no requirements for a home to be listed, but the company said it does look for two factors to increase the likelihood the house will be rented out: distance to campus, as well as how many people can be accommodated in the house.

“If [a home] can fit 10 to 12 people within walking distance to campus, that’s probably the most popular homes on the site,” said Doyle.

Most properties rent anywhere from $1,000-$2,500 for the weekend depending on the size of the house, its location, and how big a game it is, said Doyle.

In addition, the income earned from home rental is tax free, according to Doyle, who said IRS code allows income from a primary residence rented less than 14 days a year to be tax free.

Once the home is listed, Rent Like a Champion handles all administration and marketing and charges 15 percent commission (with a $250 minimum), but only collects if the house is booked.

Although damage from a renter seems like a top concern for a potential homeowner, it hasn’t been a problem, said Doyle. Although there is no screening process, renters have to agree to a rental contract that states the renter is responsible for any damage and releases a homeowner from any liability if anyone gets injured in the home.


A screenshot on the Ann Arbor Football Rentals website.

Rent Like a Champion puts $1,000 hold on the renter’s credit card before check-in, similar to a hotel, which serves as a security deposit if any damage occurs.

“Most of the renters we’ve had at Notre Dame and Penn State have been alums coming back with their families,” said Doyle. “We’ve had less than 5 percent incident rate. When we have seen [an incident] it’s a very small issue, like a window broke, and less than $100.”

Ann Arbor residents Matt and Kelly Grocoff heard about the program through a friend, a local professor who received an email about it, and decided to list their house.

Located at 217 S. Seventh St., the Grocoff's home is a green home that has been written up in, USA Today, This Old House and The Atlantic.

The pair owns a net zero energy consulting collaboration called Thrive as well as a TV production company and website called Greenovation. Matt Grocoff hopes renting his home also will give people an opportunity to experience these green features firsthand, in addition to earning the pair some extra money.

“It’s a great deal,” said Matt Grocoff. “If a family or several couples had to rent out a couple of hotel rooms, it would be $600 a night, plus you have to pay for parking and going out to eat. Here you have access to a full kitchen, barbecue in the yard and can walk over to the stadium.”

The three-bed, two-bath 1,500-square-foot house is $1,500 per weekend, although Matt Grocoff plans to raise or lower the price depending on demand.

The South Bend website, which has been up and running for six seasons, currently lists about 100 homes. The company is focusing less on marketing to people in South Bend and has turned more efforts to fielding calls from interested homeowners in other areas, such as Ann Arbor.

“It takes a little while for people to get used to the idea of renting out their home for the weekend,” said Doyle. “But once people become comfortable with the idea, homeowners have enjoyed the program and stick with it year after year. It’s a way to earn quite a bit of additional income — some people can pay off their yearly mortgage with six or seven rentals a year.”



Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

I did some digging and found this...

Red Floyd

Mon, Aug 6, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

Thirdly, any damage or theft to your house caused by renters will NOT be covered! In fact, if you read the fine print of your homeowner policy, renting your house will pretty much void your homeowner policy. If your insurance company finds out you are renting out your house, they can immediately cancel your coverage if they choose. The fine print basically explains that your house cannot be used for business purposes. You would need a rental policy (the same policy a landlord would have on a full-time rental property) to cover any rental damage, and rates on those are much higher than on homeowner policies. In fact, many insurance companies won't write rental policies anymore. Too many losses. You have to go through a specialized company, and won't get bundling discounts. In fact, I'm fairly certain that your homeowner policy would cover NO liability for a renter. Read your fine print or talk to an expert before you decide to rent out your house!

Red Floyd

Mon, Aug 6, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.

Secondly, that little contract that says the renters agree to waive all liability...that isn't worth the paper it's written on. Rosy12 is totally correct - those usually don't hold up in court at all! If a non-resident is injured on your property, they can sue you for liability, and your insurance company will only cover you for the amount of your liability coverage. You will be responsible for any additional amount.

Red Floyd

Mon, Aug 6, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

I've held my Property/Casualty license with the state of Michigan since 2008: Most people do not understand the Liability coverage on their Homeowner policy, and I would say 90% of people only have $300,000 in Liability coverage. This covers you if anyone ever sues you for, among other things, being injured on your property. Generally, any company that writes Homeowner insurance in Michigan offers between $100K and $1Million (in $100K increments) . However, what most people don't realize, is that the difference between $100K and $1Million is often only around $10/year. Seriously! Liability is usually the greatest bang-for-your-buck coverage. I won't get into all the reasons for this here. The reason most people only have $300,000 is because many Insurance Agents (they're salesman, trust me...they're ONLY paid when they write new policies or have existing ones renew) lower the coverages the general public doesn't understand or isn't concerned about in an attempt to make the overall price lower. They're trying to win your business. They have to put their best foot forward. Most consumers are focused on about 5 or 6 numbers, overall price being one of those. EVERYONE should ask their agent how much extra it would cost to raise their liability coverage to $1Million - they'll be shocked at how inexpensive it is! If some kid is hurt on your property, how much do you think you're going to get sued for? You can have five fences, and 18 "danger" signs, and if a kid still manages to drown in your pool, you're basically liable.


Mon, Aug 6, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.

Lots of concerns, and there should be. These are just graduated kids. Online review shows one bad experience for the renters.


Sun, Aug 5, 2012 : 8:29 p.m.

This is a nightmare just waiting to happen for unsuspecting homeowners. Anyone thinking about doing this better check with their insurance agent - and I am not thinking about damage. What happens if they start a fire or get hurt on your property? Most insurance companies won't cover you if you've rented out your house unless you have taken a renters dwellers policy. The article says that they sign something that releases the homeowner from liability - yeah, those don't necessarily hold up in court.

Leah Gunn

Sun, Aug 5, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

Renters should know that they are no longer subject to the 5% County Accommodations tax, because the Board of Commissioners took action last week to make B&Bs and "occasional rentals" exempt. It is expected that the ordinance amendment will take effect on Oct. 1.


Sun, Aug 5, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

Homeowners should beware of trusting their homes to these rental companies. Last year, my husband and I rented our home out for the Notre Dame weekend through a similar website. It was an experience that ended up costing us over $6,000 in repair damages, most of which we had to pay out of our own pocket. When we returned home after the weekend, we found: stained carpets, ripped sofas, spilled beer on the floor, vomit in the bathroom, two mattresses had been destroyed by beer and vomit, and chipped walls. The renters had obviously treated our home as if it were a drunken frathouse. The first problem is that we were given no control over who rented our house. Your house is turned over to anyone who wants to rent it, and these companies conduct absolutely no background checks on their renters. This was the first fatal mistake. The second problem is that none of these rental companies carry any insurance to cover damage that occurs to your house. There was nothing but a small security deposit, barely enough to cover under 20% of the total damages to our house. Third, the renters made it impossible for us to even use the security deposit to help pay a tiny portion of the damages. The renters claimed the damage to our home was preexisting damage (which it wasn't), it it became their word versus ours. In sum, we learned our lesson, and I am never again renting our house out to strangers on football weekends through an anonymous website.


Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 4:10 p.m.

It would not take a rocket scientist to know this would probably not go well!


Sun, Aug 5, 2012 : 10:03 p.m.

Good post. Sorry your experience was a nightmare. Lesson learned, if you rent out, do so to people you know or can trust and do it on your own.


Sun, Aug 5, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

if a deal seems to good to be true it usually is.


Sun, Aug 5, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

And that was for an ND game. Just think of the possibilities when it's MSU!


Sun, Aug 5, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

There's no downside to renting your house to inibriated football fans... who might also be pissed off if the team underperforms.


Sun, Aug 5, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

Did you even read the article?? "Rent Like a Champion puts $1,000 hold on the renter's credit card before check-in, similar to a hotel, which serves as a security deposit if any damage occurs." If there was more than $1,000 in damages, the homeowner could sue the renter for the rest. I'll bet that will never happen.