Vacation Rental Regulations – The good, bad, and ugly

September 22, 2015

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VRRegulations

Unless you have been living under a rock, vacation rentals aka short term rentals (STRs) have been under attack in most cities in the country. Although STR’s have been around for decades, they have just started becoming popular enough for mainstream travelers and the hospitality industry to notice.  The proliferation of STR’s have been fueled by sites like Airbnb which have made it as easy as posting a few pictures on a website to rent part or all of your home.

That’s good for everyone right??…. Well.. maybe… maybe not… The opposition claims that living next to a STR ‘destroys the fabric of their neighborhood’ and brings with it excess noise, parties, trash, cars, and problems with unknown and sometimes rude and belligerent guests. We as vacation rental company owners agree that their are ‘problem homes’ in some neighborhoods. The problem homes are generally operated by owners that do not screen guests, cram 20 people into a 3 bedroom house, and don’t, in general, care about their neighbors. We wouldn’t want to live next to a home like this either.

Most rental companies go to great lengths to screen all guests. My company has at least 7 points of contact with a guests before they even arrive at the house. Guests know our expectations and have to sign an 8 page hardcore rental agreement. We have a zero tolerance policy for violations for anything in the rental agreement including having more people at the home than allowed when reserving the home, parties, excessive noise, smoking, under age, or any other misrepresentation they may have made when booking the home. We generally only book to families and NEVER rent to anyone under 25. Because of all the steps we take, we have very few problems with any renters or neighbors.

The problems lie with the individuals that don’t screen their guests. This creates a home that continually has problem guests and angry neighbors. This is what happens: A prospective guest calls a management company, we screen them and don’t rent to them based on our criteria. The guests keeps calling until they find a home that will rent to them. These typical guests keep finding that same home that will rent to them and this home has continual problems. These problem houses are the bad apples that have communities up in arms. Their repeated noise issues and disrespect of neighbors and neighborhoods has, rightly so, gotten some neighbors to a breaking point.

This brings us to where we are today in San Diego: A very split community.  Some homeowners want a complete ban on all short term rentals and others that want to make sure their property rights are protected and that they can do what they want with their home.

I am involved with 7 other STR companies here in San Diego actively fighting for the right for our owners to rent their homes out as short term rentals. We all agree that the time for regulations is here and encourage ‘Common Sense Regulations’.

Hundreds of cities have successful vacation rental programs. Take Big Bear CA for example. They have a very robust program where everyone wins. The homeowners are happy, the city is collecting tax revenue, and, most importantly, the neighbors are happy. Big Bear requires each home to be registered with the city and each home to have a contact number posted on a public website. Neighbors can call the number and the contact person HAS to respond within 90 minutes and address any problem. The owner is fined and/or shut down if they have too many violations. Furthermore, each owner or property management company has to physically meet the guests to set expectations and explain the rules. The city also caps the number of people that can stay in a home based on bedrooms which reduces cars, trash, and groups that want to ‘party’ for their stay.  This has helped create a very successful program for everyone.

Newport Beach has similar regulations.

Keep in mind that tourism is the 3rd biggest industry in San Diego. It is estimated that close to half a billion dollars is generated from the jobs and tourism that short term rentals provide. Also, 70% of people that come to visit San Diego year after year say they would find another city to vacation in if vacation rentals were to be banned.

Furthermore, this fight is about each person’s property rights.  I have several owners that are retired, live on social security, and rely on the additional income from their short term rental in order to make ends meet in this tough economy.  Other owners bought second homes recently while they could afford them and plan on retiring in the home. Shouldn’t they be allowed to rent out their home how they see fit?

Whatever your views on the issue, we are at a crucial crossroad. There are going to be decisions made soon on the future of short term rentals.

In fact, a pivotal meeting is tomorrow (September 22, 2015).  The meeting is the Community Planners Committee consisting of representative from each neighborhood in San Diego. All attendees will have a chance to speak at the meeting.

We cannot stress enough how important it is for you to come to this meeting and show your support. This may be the last meeting before the city decides the fate of short term rentals.  

Meeting details are as follows:

Community Planners Committee Public Meeting

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 @7:00 p.m.
Municipal Operations Center – Auditorium
9192 Topaz Way, San Diego, CA 92124

 

 

 

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About Greg

Greg is the owner of Pacific Coast Vacation Properties, a high end vacation rental management company located in San Diego, CA. He also owns a full service real estate brokerage company that helps owners buy vacation rental and commercial property. In his spare time, Greg volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and other charitable groups in San Diego.

View all posts by Greg

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