Tuesday, October 16, 2012

AirBnB Gears up to fight bad Rental Laws

AirBnb just joined the short list of major vacation rental businesses that have hired Government Relations personnel to help address problems with the way that vacation rentals and related businesses are regulated.  

Last year Homeaway.Com appointed Matt Curtis to handle the similar issues, despite prior comments by Homeaway people that they felt that this issue should be handled by an independent outside organization.  Curtis was the Government Relations for the Mayor of Austin prior to signing on with Homeaway.

AirBnB's new hire is David Hantman - the former head of Government Relations for Yahoo.  Hantman will be put to work right away - California is already looking at regulatory issues around how AirBnB guest payments are handled, and around taxes.

It will be interesting to see if Hantman, Curtis, VRRegs.Com and others working on these issues can collaborate.  Big vacation rental listing sites clearly have a business interest in management of VR regulation, but this is an industry-wide issue that affects everyone involved, and collaboration is key to handling it properly.

More information...

Doug Coates


  1. AirBnB will have to clean up it's act if they want to challenge city and state governments. In Austin, Texas, which recently worked with VR owners and Homeaway to pass reasonable VR registration laws and which has always required VR owners to collect both state and city hotel occupancy taxes, AirBnB practically encourages it's VR owners to ignore the tax and is certainly NOT encouraging them to register at this time. I tried to share information on registering to pay the HOT tax with one local AirBnB representative, offering a presentation to her group, and she was not interested. I hope Mr. Hantman is aware of this attitude in his new employer.
    More than half of the Austin AirBnB listings are for just bedroom space in owner-occupied homes (Private Room & Shared Room), which is illegal by Austin city residential code. As a VR owner who is trying to operate openly & legally, I have no respect for AirBnB until they encourage their listers to know and obey the local laws, until and unless those laws are changed.

  2. Someone just asked "what are bad rental laws".

    Bad rental laws can include laws that
    - penalize all vacation rental owners because of the actions of a few
    - retroactively take away or restrict the right to rent a property without cause
    - fine owners for the actions of guests
    - are based on rumors about problems at VRs instead of documented incidents.
    - are based on political considerations
    - treat rental owners as if they are not taxpaying and caring members of the community.
    - cause home owners to lose their homes, property values to drop, tourism and property and sales taxes to drop, loss of business for companies that serve and supply VRs and tourists

    Good rental laws can include laws that
    - help manage impacts that vacation rentals have on their local communities, in the same way that other laws work to support and manage the impacts that businesses and other types of lodging have.
    - support local economic and tourism development goals
    - respect the property rights of the owners
    - welcome guests that come to an area to stay in VRs and educate those guests about what is considered acceptable behavior.
    - encourage a collaboration between local citizens, vacation rental owners and managers, and local government, when problems need to be solved.

    Bad laws are a disaster for everyone. Well thought out laws that address vacation rental issues create an opportunity for local communities.

    Doug Coates

  3. People that drive into a new and unfamiliar area that is not their own neighborhood generally respect local traffic laws or else they receive a fine by way of a traffic ticket. This deters from breaking the law. Until there is a general consensus that a simple straight forward ticket or fine is imposed on the actual individual who violated a noise ordinance for example, whether it be from a short-term renter, a property owner or family friend, or long term renter that happens to violate a noise ordinance, etc., nothing will change. Property owners are not the guilty party when a noise ordinance is violated by a renter. Property owners should warn their renters to obey local laws or face consequences. The law needs to apply to the specific violation and who violated it. I would like to hear comments from people why this would not be the perfect solution. Property owners have property rights in place to enable them to rent or lease their property as they see fit. A neighbor of mine who wanted to prohibit short term renters complained that there was a single car in my driveway for 3 days that he knew did not belong to the property owner. This is not against the law! The board he complained to should have dismissed this type of complaint. Common sense is needed here. Short term rental needs are a needed product of our modern society.

  4. I would appreciate anonymous people to not be allowed to comment on this site.


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.