Why the Entire STR Industry Must Stand Up Against Onerous New Regulations.
By Philip Minardi, Short Term Rental Advocacy Center
Over the past year and a half, the Short-Term Rental Advocacy Center (STRAC), a program of the Travel Technology Association, has been active in growing a broad-based coalition of property owners and managers, hosts, travelers and businesses that recognizes the value of short-term rentals to both travelers and the local communities they visit. The Travel Technology Association believes that municipalities and states should embrace this economic opportunity and work with all industry stakeholders to establish a reasonable, pro-growth framework for regulating short-term rental activity so that everyone involved can benefit.
Over the past year, the rate at which short-term rental activity across the nation has been confronted with the threat of new, burdensome, and often existential regulatory action has truly been astounding. Small vocal minorities have emerged in towns and cities around the country – and indeed across the world who advocate for the outlawing of short-term renting. Often bolstered by the network and financial support of commercial interests like the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA), these anti-STR stakeholders have leveraged exaggerated misinformation and scare tactics to urge local policymakers to act quickly and without proper consideration on laws that stifle the short-term rental industry, property owners and managers and the travelers who utilize their valuable services.
The most unfortunate component of many of the regulations proposed in recent months has been that they are often driven by isolated cases of problem rentals, and count on the fact that most municipal officials are part-time policymakers without the time or resources to gather facts and consider the ramifications of the actions they are about to take.
A few years ago, new short-term rental regulations being proposed at the state and local level were a growing concern for the industry. Today, they represent the proverbial barbarians at the gate for all those involved in the short-term rental ecosystem: travelers, managers, hosts, homeowners, local businesses, and the community.
The simple reality is that with easy access to technology and more choices than ever before, travelers are increasingly looking for short-term rental accommodations that provide flexible housing options and allow them to spend longer periods of time in communities, in a unique setting, all while contributing to the local economy. As such, it’s only logical that municipalities embrace this economic opportunity by working with industry stakeholders to establish a reasonable framework for regulating short-term rental activity so that all may benefit.
As we work toward improving the regulatory environment at the state and local level for short-term rentals, it is essential that such regulations are developed to protect the community, property owners and managers, hosts and travelers. But it is only in an environment where all parties are part of the ongoing discussion that fair and reasonable regulation can be achieved. Absent this collaborative effort, we will continue to see instances where groups of small vocal opponents call for swift and baseless action that undermines the industry and limits choices for travelers. It is our responsibility as stakeholders to understand that reality and work to counter the threat we now face.
Unfortunately, such collaborative discussions rarely take place. This must change.
In the meantime, policymakers continue to move quickly to adopt oppressive or limiting regulations on short-term rentals, creating laws and ordinances that lead to the detrimental effect of driving our valuable industry underground, effectively eliminating accountability and depriving communities of any corresponding tax and revenue benefits. We know that communities throughout the United States rely on local taxes to promote travel and tourism, and the fair and reasonable regulation of short-term rentals has the ability to ensure increased compliance, and in turn, increased tax revenue.
What does smart short-term rental legislation look like? At its core, effective and sensible short-term rental regulation allows municipalities to easily identify and contact a short-term rental owner, make the tax collection and remittance obligations clear, and ensure that short-term rentals remain an option for owners, manager and travelers. Just as importantly, smart regulations balance the needs of long-term residents and the community as a whole. In order to do so they rely on fact based methodology and collaborative efforts in developing fair and reasonable regulations.
Over the last year, Travel Tech has worked extensively with groups throughout the country to help reinforce the important core concepts that policymakers should consider when crafting or amending any short-term rental regulations.
While many local policymakers are often willing to recognize the value of short-term rentals in providing flexible accommodations to visitors, it is the questions surrounding safety regulations, tax collection and remittance and the ultimately accountable party that often drive any short-term rental conversation.
Now, more than ever, the willingness of all parties involved in the short-term rental industry to work together, is vital to the success of the industry. Working in concert, we can help develop an open and transparent dialogue among policy makers, industry stakeholders, property owners and our local communities. Such a collaborative effort is the best and only chance at stemming the tide of poorly contrived short-term rental regulations. So, let’s talk.