What’s allowed for gameday housing rentals – and what’s not

A&M vs Florida

“Texas A&M (is) now the coolest school in the state.”
FoxSportsSouthwest.com (Feb. 6, 2013)

The buzz around Texas A&M has never been greater, and a preseason top 10 national ranking for the Aggie football team has only added to the excitement. As College Station’s population approaches 100,000, we’re rushing to keep up with new development that supports our newfound coolness and accommodates thousands of Southeastern Conference fans.

It’s no surprise that Aggie football nearly doubles College Station’s population on game weekends. Existing hotels — and even the new ones nearing completion — were booked as soon as the 2013 schedule was announced. Those who couldn’t reserve a hotel room are searching near and far for a place to stay.

Some local property owners have found a remedy to the room shortage by renting out their homes – or even single rooms — on football weekends. That’s prompted dozens of College Station residents to call us. Some want to know if it’s okay to rent their homes, while others don’t want it to happen in their neighborhood.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s allowed, and what’s not.

Unless you are registered with the city as a bed and breakfast, you are violating city ordinances, and perhaps your own homeowners or neighborhood association covenants, by renting your home to football fans.

Game day housing rentals

The primary purpose for these restrictions is to maintain neighborhood integrity and ensure public safety, which are high priorities for many of our residents. Short-term rentals are limited to hotels and motels located in commercial zones. Renting out homes or single rooms – game day housing — is not permitted, unless the property owner remains on-site and operates as a registered bed and breakfast.

Bed and breakfasts (Code of Ordinances 12.6.5.C.2) are permitted in residential zones, but only under these circumstances:

  • It must be part of the owner’s permanent residence.
  • It must maintain a residential appearance.
  • It must be the permanent residence of the proprietor.
  • No more than four unrelated people can stay there overnight.

Parking Concerns

In our older neighborhoods such as Southside, parking is a major concern. The Southside Area Neighborhood Plan adopted last September includes parking restrictions designed to improve safety on streets that weren’t constructed to current standards. In some areas, parking on both sides made streets impassable and created public safety issues for our fire and police departments. In addition, many of these homes don’t have off-street parking and can’t accommodate a large number of visitors.

In many of our neighborhoods, the city doesn’t need to enforce the ordinance because deed restrictions and bylaws don’t allow game day housing. If rules are violated, homeowners may face fines and penalties from their homeowners or neighborhood association.

What do other college cities do? 

We’ve discovered College Station isn’t alone when it comes to game day housing ordinances, especially in the SEC. Several years ago, city officials in Tuscaloosa (University of Alabama), Starkville (Mississippi State), and Oxford (Ole Miss) took action to restrict the activity.

  • In Tuscaloosa, local realtors were told to remove game day housing rental information from their websites or face a fine. Tuscaloosa doesn’t include hotels and motels in its definition of a dwelling unit.
  • Oxford, a small town of about 20,000, has only a limited number of hotel rooms available and local officials call game day rentals “endemic.” Oxford defines game day housing as a commercial use and prohibits it in residential areas.
  • Like College Station, Starkville doesn’t have enough hotels to house all its visitors. Starkville addresses its game day housing issues on a case-by-case basis as problems arise.

Some SEC cities have had difficulty enforcing similar ordinances. Gainesville (University of Florida) once licensed landlords to restrict use, but a state law passed in 2011 prohibits local governments from banning short-term rentals. Gainesville can’t address game day rentals because it can’t create specific regulations.

A final consideration

If you rent out your house this fall, you should also consider the impact on your liability insurance. Your home is no longer considered residential when its use is essentially changed to commercial, and insurance coverage may not be attainable if someone is injured or the home is damaged. 

If you are thinking about renting out your home to visiting football fans this fall, be sure to consider the implications. If you have any questions about game day rentals, email me at mhester@cstx.gov.

Gig ’em, Aggies!

Morgan Hester
Morgan Hester | Staff Planner

7 thoughts on “What’s allowed for gameday housing rentals – and what’s not

  1. Every time I read something like this, I’m reminded of a cynical comment I heard once from a local resident: “College Station would be a great place to live it it weren’t for that damned college (and its students)!” Hey folks, you chose to live in a university town. Having temporary visitors living on your block six weekends a year isn’t too much of a price to pay for all of the economic prosperity brought to town by these events.

  2. I took a look at the municipal code. It does not say that it is required to register a bed and breakfast, although the other rules mentioned in this article are there. I also did a search to see *how* you would register a bed and breakfast in College Station, and I came up empty. There is no mention here: http://www.cstx.gov/index.aspx?page=513, either. Please provide the relevant information with your article!

    1. Jean Marie: Thanks for your comment. Bed and Breakfasts are considered to be home occupations or businesses, which would require registering with the Texas Secretary of State. Because of the nature of the business, in addition to complying with the regulations set by the ordinance for bed and breakfasts, registering online for Hotel Occupancy Tax Collections through MuniServices, LLC would be required.

  3. Funny after blowing southside up by allowing castles to replace houses and lots to become smaller to build said castle that now, all of a sudden, parking has become a concern in a house being potentially used by more people than could fit in the driveway.

  4. We must all remember this important rule of government: “Government has no money.”

    All the money belongs to the citizens and guests. Now, it appears that the City government is discovering a way to build its “business” by restricting or taxing citizens trying to profit off of out of town guests. That’s what it is. People want to profit. I don’t think we are altruistically trying to find a “remedy to the room shortage.”

    By restricting short-term, weekend rental to those registered as a Bed and Breakfast business, College Station would benefit from receiving hotel-motel tax money from every sale.

    This newfound governance is about the City trying to do what some enterprising residents are trying to do: make a profit off of “our newfound coolness” as Ms. Hester calls it.

    There are many fallacious arguments in this blogpost to which I take exception.

    First, but least important, if the City population is nearing 100,000, and there are approximately 30,000 tickets available to Aggie students in a stadium that currently lists a capacity of 83,000, are we to believe that the 50,000 other non-student tickets are all purchased by non-residents? Obviously not. I don’t know what the number actually is, but even if the 50,000 non-student tickets all were for non-residents, that does not “nearly double” the population on game weekends. Do the math. This is an attempt at using hyperbole to try to make a point.

    Next, Ms. Hester states that “unless you are registered with the city as a bed and breakfast, you are violating city ordinances…by renting your home to football fans”. One would think that this statement would be followed by a citation from the actual ordinance. But, rather than including that information, Ms. Hester assumes it is sufficient to say, “renting out homes or single rooms – game day housing – is not permitted unless the property owner is on-site and operates as a registered bed and breakfast.”

    There is a difference between what the ordinance allows and what it prohibits. Ms. Hester makes the leap to assume the two are the same. The ordinance does not say HOW to have game day housing. The absence of codified permission to have game day housing in the ordinance is not the same thing as a prohibition against it. Because there is no restriction against it explicitly, the city is trying to link the “no more than 4 unrelated residents” issue, and zoning restrictions against hotel use in residential areas to create an amalgamation that justifies restricting game day rentals.

    In some neighborhoods, such as Southgate, the parking issue mentioned is only relevant to neighborhoods without off-street parking. In neighborhoods that DO allow off-street parking, it is inconsistent for the City to apply a restriction against game-day housing based on a parking issue in another neighborhood.

    Also, why is so much of this blog post dedicated to talking about HOA restrictions? At issue here from the city’s perspective is not what HOAs allow or restrict. The city does not enforce HOA restrictions. To even bring up HOAs in this blog post does nothing to explain the supposed ordinance violations.

    Further, the stated circumstances under which a B&B is permitted in residential zones are inconsistent and yet redundant. In one paragraph, it is said that the owner must remain on-site. In the next section, it says that the property must be “part of the owner’s permanent residence” and “it must be the permanent residence of the proprietor.” Those two statements appear to say the same thing: that you are renting your primary residence. But, does the homeowner have to be present in the house? For how long? The duration of the rental? Only overnight? Only when the guests are present?

    Lastly, the point of the statement that no more than 4 unrelated people can stay there overnight is intended to limit college students and vehicle quantity (plus associated disturbances) in neighborhoods.

    So which of these two situations is allowed:
    1. I could have a registered B&B in my house and allow a family (all relatives) of 10 driving 4 vehicles to stay in my house.
    2. I could have 2 people pay me to spend the night in my home while I am out of town if I am not registered as a B&B.

    If I follow what Ms. Hester explains to be the ordinance, the first would be allowed, but the second is disallowed. Is it really about maintaining neighborhood integrity and ensuring public safety?

    Yes, as long as the city gets the hotel-motel tax. Now, if only the city could get more money to pay for more code enforcement officers. Where can they get the money? Hmmm.