Thursday, June 4, 2015

Defend Your Property - Tell Your Story

When VR owners and managers attend public meetings where regulation of vacation rental homes is being discussed, it helps to have an honest discussion about how short term rentals contribute to the community, and the impacts that they have on the community.

Here are some issues that you could discuss in such a forum.
Why You Rent Your Home
There are many myths about who owns the city’s vacation rentals and why owners rent out their homes.  You may have heard the 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 on the internet and telling people why they should come to your destination. You may bring a large number of repeat guests to the city each year.

The county or city your rental is in may already spend significant funds to promote tourism, and needs to know that we contribute to that goal too, at our own expense.

Tell people how you bring tourism to the the area, year after year.

How You Promote Area Businesses
Some of us make a point of finding the best restaurants and shops in the area, and make a point of encouraging our guests to patronize these businesses.  Others provide full directories of all 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 much your 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 VR’s Support Local Property Values
Vacation rentals are often the best kept homes in an 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 on vacation homes are often higher than they are on other homes in an area because the houses are well maintained and 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.

Tell people how you work to minimize problems. 

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

How Current Laws Affect You Already
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, and have other provisions that cost you money and limit your ability to cover the costs of owning the 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 short term rental compliance officer.

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

Tell people how current laws have impacted you.

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 of short term rentals 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 that are being discussed 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 of our purchase. Legislation that retro-actively affects your ability to generate income is unfair.

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, government still plays an important role in our lives.  But existing regulations and new government regulations should be designed to address real problems.   In spite of suggestions that our rentals cause problems for a community, when a city is asked to document these problems, often few serious problems can be documented.

Tell people that new and current VR regulations need to be studied to make sure the problems they are designed to address actually exist – and if problems can not be documented, existing laws may need to be re-evaluated.  New regulations should not be created based on hearsay and rumor.

1 comment:

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.