Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rental Owners & Managers Should Tell Their Story


When there is a forum for Public Comment about Vacation Rental issues in your area, it is important that owners, managers and supporters speak up! You can bet that opponents of short term rental activity will be quite vocal. 

You may find such a forum at a local city council or county commissioner meeting, or at meetings designed to specifically address VR issues.

Here are some suggestions about topics that would be useful to talk about during public comment periods at such meetings.

  Why You Rent Your Home 

There are often many myths about who owns an area’s vacation rentals. You may have heard statements about “wealthy out-of-town investors”.

The reality is that most owners are not wealthy investors - many of us have to rent our homes in order to continue owning them, and many of us have interesting stories about how we became owners of a vacation rental and why we continue to rent our home. 

Tell your own personal stories about being a vacation rental home owner.

  How You Promote Tourism 

You may spend hundreds or thousands of dollars each year advertising your vacation home and telling people why they should come to your area. You may bring a large number of repeat guests to the city each year. Your area probably has a stated goal to promote tourism, and needs to know how you contribute to that goal.

Tell people how you bring tourism to the area, and how much you spend to do it, year after year.

  How You Promote Area Businesses 

Some of us make a point of finding the best restaurants and shops and tourist attachtions in the area, and make a point of encouraging our guests to patronize these businesses. Others provide full directories of all shops & services in town that guests might need while they are there.

Many of us make a point of buying local goods and services to maintain our homes.

Property management companies, cleaning companies, restaurants, shops, grocery stores, gas stations and a variety of other businesses all see significant income as a result. 

Tell people how guests patronize area businesses, and how much money they spend at these businesses.

Tell people how what types of local goods and services you buy for the vacation rental home and how much you spend.

  How Short Term Rentals Support Local Property Values

Vacation rentals are often the best kept houses in the area. They need to be in order to attract return guests. Some of us buy older homes that are headed towards decay and renovate them. Property values of vacation homes are often higher than they are on other homes because the rental income makes the property more valuable.

Tell people how our activity raises everyone’s property values.

  What You Do To Minimize Problems

Many of us screen guests very carefully, and have crafted rental policies designed to promote good guest behavior, and prevent problems for neighbors of our vacation rentals. Our policies address parking issues, trash issues, noise, parties, the capacity of our homes, safety and other issues.

Tell people how you work to minimize problems.

Tell people what you do about it when there is a problem.

  How Your Current Law Has Hurt You

Existing laws may prevent you from owning more than one short term rental, dictate landscaping requirements that sometimes can not be complied with, place parking restrictions on you that other area taxpayers do not have to comply with, or have other provisions that cost you money and limit your ability to cover the costs of owning your home. 

In addition to having to comply with local laws as they are enforced by the police, you may also have an additional set of regulations to comply with that are enforced by a local short term rental compliance officer.

If you or a guest violate any laws, you may be subject to large fines and loss of the ability to rent your home. Sometimes you can be fined for things that you have no control over.

Tell people how current restrictions impact you and your family.

  Property Rights, and Laws That Take Them Away

The US Constitution and state laws are crafted to protect and defend the rights of property owners to use their property as they see fit. Both proponents and opponents have property rights of course, but one group should not be able to inflict serious financial damage on the other group without cause. Existing regulations may already seriously impact the property rights of rental owners. New regulations may cause more serious damage.

You may have bought your vacation rental based on the fact that you could legally generate income to cover costs of the home at the time.

Talk about your rights as a property owner, and the damage it would do if your right to rent was further restricted or taken away entirely.

  Regulations Should Address Documented Problems

In a country where everyone is talking about the need for less regulation and less government interference in our lives, there is still a role for government to play in our lives. But existing regulations and new government regulations should be designed to address real problems. In spite of suggestions by some that short terms rentals cause problems, when those who complain are asked to document these problems, they are often unable to document them.

Tell people that current VRD regulations need to be studied to make sure the problems they are designed to address actually exist – and if they can not be documented, the current laws should be changed. New regulations should not be created based on hearsay and rumor.


We suggest that commentary should be kept positive and as respectful of others as possible, but should also discuss real problems you have encountered with your current laws and the negative impacts of further regulation. During public comment periods, individual owners and managers should pick an issue and speak about it in detail from your own personal experience. 

Doug Coates

1 comment:

  1. This is interesting. Why would there be issues in the community regarding renting your property out. I assume its to do with people not respecting the area?

    But that could happen with folks that live there too?


Thoughtful comments are welcome, whether you are in favor of vacation rentals or concerned about the impacts of VRs on your community. Comments that contain advertising, including ads for properties, will be deleted.