How to legally rent out your home for Houston's Super Bowl

By Debbie Strauss - Special Projects Producer , Andy Cerota - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - With the Super Bowl right around the corner, many people living in Houston are considering renting out their homes to make some huge, fast cash.

But before you rent out your place, make sure you do it legally, or you could face some hefty fines.

Phebe Chen's home in Bellaire will be prime real estate when the Super Bowl rolls into town.

"The location is great," Chen said. "It's within three miles to NRG. It's at least 8,000 square feet, six bedrooms (and) nine baths."

That's not all.

"I'll have housekeeping and there's a nice backyard with lots of room and a nice pool and Jacuzzi," Chen said.

Chen and her family plan to rent out their house during Super Bowl week. Her asking price is $10,000 a night.

Chen's friend's convinced her to rent out her home. But she didn't make the decision lightly.

"I did some research and made sure that Bellaire was OK with that, and got a permit," Chen said.

In Bellaire, you need a certificate of occupancy and an inspection if you plan to rent out your place short term, as a rental for Super Bowl week would be.

Not all cities in Texas allow short-term rentals.

Mia Lorick is an associate at Roberts Markel Weinberg Butler Hailey PC and practices in the firm's litigation and appellate groups. The Houston law firm represents dozens of homeowners associations in Texas.

A court recently ruled a homeowner in San Antonio violated his deed restriction by renting out his home in a short-term situation.

The Texas Supreme Court is expected to take up the case.

View court documents.

"The trial court found ... short-term rentals were in fact in violation of the residential-use provision," Lorick said.

The San Antonio homeowner had to pay the homeowners association's legal fees, which were about $80,000.

Attorney Frank Carroll works with Lorick.

"The noise, the traffic, the trash -- you may rent it out," Carroll said. "You leave town. You make a quick buck. That may sound pretty good, except your neighbors have to live with what's happening in your community."

Carroll's advice before you rent out your house? Read your neighborhood's deed restrictions.

"It's basically a contract between you and your neighbors and it governs what you can and cannot do with your property," Carroll said.

Look for the keywords "residential use" or "prohibitions on transient housing."

In Meyerland, for example, short-term rentals are not allowed.

View deed restrictions.

It's the same with Braeswood Place.

The Braeswood Place Homeowners Association sent KPRC Channel 2 this statement: "It is against deed restrictions to rent out homes for short term, including Airbnbs."

Some HOAs, such as Hearthwood II, which is located just blocks from NRG, are going as far as sending out bulletins to homeowners.

View document.

If you live in Houston, outside of an HOA, the city does not require an operating license. But you are required to hand over a hotel occupancy tax.

The city of Houston sent KPRC Channel 2 this statement: "The city of Houston does not require an operating license for residents that want to rent out their home as a vacation rental property. They are required to pay a hotel occupancy tax though, which is collected by Houston First."

You can make payments online.

Hotel Occupancy Tax: Hotel occupancy tax is imposed on the rental of a room or space in a hotel costing $2 or more each day. The tax applies not only to hotels and motels, but also to bed and breakfasts, condominiums, apartments and houses. Persons leasing their houses, or rooms in their house, must collect the tax from their customers in the same way a hotel or motel collects the tax from its guests. Property management companies, online travel companies and other third-party rental companies may also be responsible for collecting the tax.

Rates: The hotel occupancy tax rate is 7 percent (.07) of the cost of the room.

Due Date: Reports and payments are due quarterly and must be received or postmarked by the last day of the month following the appropriate quarter.

The State of Texas also has a Hotel Occupancy Tax.

“The state hotel occupancy tax rate is 6 percent (.06) of the cost of a room.”

https://www.comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/hotel/

Cities and certain counties and special purpose districts are authorized to impose an additional local hotel tax that the local taxing authority collects. Chen is also concerned about potential damage to her home.

"I'll just go around the rooms and maybe take some pictures and document what's there," Chen said.

You're also encouraged to set house rules. Both Airbnb and VRBO give you the option.

"The leasing agreement will have to be specific about the deposit and the damages," Chen said. "The things that are really important, just take out of the house in the meantime."

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