I don’t typically write on the subject of the regulation or legality of vacation rentals.
But here’s an instance that I was personally consulted on (I spent quite some time as a travel writer in Costa Rica) and a solution that seems to me to be the way of the future.
In Costa Rica, many hotel lobbyists are blaming low occupancy rates on the upsurge of vacation rentals.
Of course, their declining businesses are due to far more than just the arrival of vacation rentals.
But in an effort to level the playing field, Costa Rica’s tourism board has proposed (and nearly signed) rules that would require vacation rental owners to pay hotel-style taxes and fees.
From the article in InsideCostaRica.com:
Ayub said vacation rentals constitute unfair competition because they operate at a lower cost and are not forced to pay the same taxes and fees as hotels.
Additionally, hotels are forced to pay for electricity at the “industrial rate,” which is significantly higher than on private residences used as vacation rentals.
In addition, vacation rentals are not required to carry a health permit, meaning should a grievance or complaint arise; it is difficult for customers to recover damages.
“We are not opposed to the [vacation rental business], what we want is that the rules are the same, that they have the same obligations as us,” Ayub said.
I think this is the right attitude towards vacation rentals.
Making them illegal is like throwing out the baby with the bath water.
Owners and managers who might complain about this sort of regulation in the future should probably get into another business, because I personally believe this sort of standardization and formalization will help solidify our industry.
Matt Landau is the Founder of the VRMB and the Inner Circle, two online resources dedicated to helping vacation rental owners and managers generate more bookings.
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