All industries need help with protecting their interests, especially in times of unprecedented crisis. Following the first hurdles of the pandemic, destinations across the country looked to gradually reopen in May 2020 to engage their workforces and stimulate economies. But vacation rentals were left off the list. In areas such as Florida, hotels and bed and breakfasts were permitted to accept visitors, while vacation rental properties were hindered and restricted by state and local regulatory agencies.
Historically, the vacation rental industry has been outmatched in lobbying efforts funded by the hotel sector, leaving the industry crippled with overreaching local policies, outright bans, and unfair taxation.
According to Smart City Policy Group, from April 1 to May 1, 2021, there were 297 regulations targeting short-term or vacation rentals across the nation. Every week an average of 81 new regulations are announced. With a multitude of restrictions and regulations being proposed and passed each year, often with little notice, the vacation rental industry must stay vigilant.
Enter Inhabit IQ and the Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA).
In an effort to fairly represent the vacation rental industry and ensure the continued choice of homeowners and property managers to rent their properties as vacation rentals, Inhabit IQ and VRMA initiated the Right to Rent program.
Right to Rent is an effort to establish a steady, predictable, and sustainable source of revenue for advocacy work in the vacation rental space.
“We understand and value the importance of protecting vacation rental businesses through pivotal advocacy initiatives,” said Eric Broughton, Inhabit IQ’s chief strategy officer. “With Right to Rent, we can facilitate a program that develops sustainable funding for these critical efforts. Our goal is to expand the program beyond the Inhabit IQ portfolio so that all vacation managers can contribute.”
Through Inhabit IQ’s portfolio of property management software, donations are collected from vacation rental companies that choose to participate through a guest booking add-on fee. The fee, typically $1–$3 per booking, is included as an administrative or program charge within the reservation. The collected donation flows seamlessly to the VRMA Right to Rent fund. The property management software being used will provide real-time reporting and tracking of all funds collected.
Here’s a bonus: by signing up for the Right to Rent program, property managers new to VRMA will receive a one-year VRMA membership.
One hundred percent of contributions collected directly fund the Right to Rent program. Right to Rent donations support VRMA’s efforts to build a stronger advocacy program for the vacation rental community and will include the following benefits:
Professional Support: Defending businesses against onerous regulations
Issue Tracking: Tracking state and local regulations that affect the vacation rental industry
Response: Driving greater efficiency in responding to legislative concerns when they arise
Lobbying: Reaching out to state and local policymakers
Communication: Building awareness of the local economic value of vacation rental properties
National Focus: Strengthening national VRMA government affairs’ efforts
Currently, the Right to Rent program is available to Streamline Vacation Rental Software users. The program will be released across Inhabit IQ software brands, with the intention to share the technology with any property management platforms interested in participating.
The need for advocacy within the vacation rental space is nothing new. VRMA Advocacy has been instrumental in lobbying efforts, marketing tactics, data collection, and tracking of negative legislation. But it doesn’t end there. VRMA is funding projects and studies related to the economic impact of vacation rentals, housing affordability, cost of compliance studies, and educational materials that define industry professionalism.
“I firmly believe each of us needs to invest in our industry in order to keep it healthy and growing, and to fight against hurtful regulations on short-term rentals,” said Doug Brindley, owner of Brindley Beach Vacation Rentals. “I think it is extremely important for vacation rental managers to get involved, not only with advocacy programs like Right to Rent, but also organizations like the Realtors Political Action Committee.”
With programs such as Right to Rent, vacation rental managers can gain an extra vote of confidence, knowing a team of experts and advocates is in their corner.