Monday, July 30, 2012

Vacation owners competing on a level playing field

A Palm Springs vacation rental management firm recently worked with an owner on an upgrade to their vacation rental website. They had a listing on AirBnb with some decent pictures but their own website advertised the region and not their own home.

The owner mentioned that he had an advantage over other vacation rental homes in the area since he didn't charge the local occupancy tax. He also doesn't have a business license and he passes the savings along to guests.

The firm explained to him that in a city like Palm Springs, California, with over 1,000 vacation rentals this wasn't a good idea. (VRBO alone has 10 pages of listings.) Just as he makes his guests safe in his home with smoke and CO2 detectors, he needs to operate legally as well for the safety of his guests. "I'll never get caught." He said, confident in his ability to fly under the radar. We pointed out that in many cities, like this one, there is a website for neighbors to complain about loud parties or noise at a vacation rental. One party, one phone call, and you're in for a large fine and may be out of business.

In Palm Springs, and other popular tourist destinations, the local government is geared up for vacation rentals. They collect TOT (Transit Occupancy Tax) from the owners and regulate them just as they do hotels. We drove our owner to City Hall where he bought his business license and his vacation rental permit. We also received a brochure that explained how to be a good neighbor. We updated his website with his permit number and he can now brag that he has a legal rental and he is on a level playing field with other homes in his area.

If you're an owner, get legal - don't take a chance. If you're a traveler, make sure your owner is legal and protect yourself.

This firm provides advice and services to vacation rental owners.  Check out their website for useful tips and industry links.

Doug Coates

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