College football championship means big bucks for rentals

- The biggest college football game of the year could mean big bucks for homeowners in Tampa.

On January 9, Raymond James Stadium will host the College Football National Championship. As thousands of football fans prepare for a trip to the Tampa Bay area, many local homeowners are cashing in on the game by listing their homes for rent online.

"We're three miles away from everything, Channelside, the stadium, as well as Ybor City," said Staci Segan.

Segan and her roommate decided to rent their two-bedroom house in Seminole Heights for $3,000 for a four-day weekend during the championship on both Craigslist and Airbnb.

"I've heard in the past that it's done well for other people, so I was all for it," said Segan.

Many residents posted their homes, condos and apartments for rent when Tampa hosted the Super Bowl in 2009. Housing options will be limited for football fans the longer they wait to book their stay.

According to Hotels.com, 70 percent of area hotels are fully booked the first weekend in January, including the Downtown Tampa Hilton, Downtown Tampa Marriott and Le Meridien. Many hotels with availability have nearly tripled their price for rooms the weekend of the championship.

On Airbnb, prices for rentals currently vary, but some homes are now listing for more than $1,000 a night.

Tampa Police are urging residents to be cautious.

"It's always risky when you're opening your doors to someone you don't know," said Officer Eddie Perez. "The best thing to do is not to leave any high valued currency laying around. You don't want to leave any firearms around. You want to make sure that the common areas where these people are going to be renting your home are secure."

Police advise that before listing their places, homeowners should check with their insurance companies to ensure they are properly covered for theft or damage.

"You can always download our [Tampa PD] app, document all your serial numbers, take photos of your items, take photos of your residents, so if there is any type of future vandalism, you can show what it looked like prior," said Officer Perez.

"I'm really not that concerned. I think most people are here for the sporting event and not to terrorize the town or my home," said Segan.

Airbnb offers "Host Protection Insurance," acting as primary insurance for the hosting party. It also provides liability coverage up to $1 million.

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