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Short-term Rental Regulations in Your Area: Creating a Smart Community Approach

Created on: Sep 6, 2013 10:54 AM by beth - Last Modified:  Sep 6, 2013 10:58 AM by beth

A smart community approach to a regulation begins with the hopes of creating a vibrant program where owners and managers are able to rent their property with fair, reasonable, efficient, appropriate and easy-to-follow guidelines. These communities use best practices and successful examples to create functional atmosphere for the good of the entire community. Their goal is to focus on the entire system and the positive role of short-term rentals, which includes the direct and indirect economic impact, the option for visitors who seek short-term accommodation and the possibility of an enhanced tax base.



One way to help smart communities develop a vibrant local program is by organizing a local industry alliance. An alliance of stakeholders can provide the information needed to government decision makers by sharing their knowledge of the industry, and best practices.  An alliance can also help government answer another important question: is a regulation necessary, cost effective and efficient?


By participating in the process, an alliance can help guide the discussion and provide valuable data and anecdotal evidence to decision makers. Alliances benefit from involving groundskeepers, cleaning companies and repeat tenants- all the individuals and businesses that contribute to a vibrant, local economy. Many times the local alliances include other promoters of the local tourism industry; the local Convention and Visitors Bureaus and boards of directors of Airport Authorities and civic arenas, major event planners, Chambers of Commerce and real estate associations. In one example a local alliance found strong support from the beneficiaries of the Hotel Occupancy Taxes (or Transient Taxes) including the Convention Center, art and music festivals and cultural groups. Once a local alliance is created some communities have identified businesses dependent on short-term rentals; festival production and other project-based industries.


One observation we can make is when local owners and property managers organize early to take a unified stand for the way their community should regulate short-term rentals they can expect the best results.


As your community begins to engage in the discussion of regulations, it is important to use best practices examples and embrace a positive, transparent, solutions-oriented and data-driven strategy with the goal of creating a Smart Community solution.



There are a variety of reasons why the discussions of regulations emerges, and it’s difficult to predict a single event, or combination of events, that might make your town start down the regulation path. Increasingly, some communities are choosing to not create additional regulation, citing the discussion, implementation and enforcement as unnecessary and burdensome. Other communities are using best practices to help guide the creation of regulations. One best practice comes from the United States Conference of Mayors:

“The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges support for economic development opportunities through the visitors industry by encouraging regulations of the short-term rental industry that (1) establish a reliable way for the municipality to identify and contact the short-term rental owner; (2) make the tax collection and remittance obligations clear to the short-term rental owner; and (3) treat short-term rental tenants the same as long-term rental tenants. Regulations that accomplish all three can achieve a high level of compliance, and are highly effective.”



An online center of information for short-term rental stakeholders has formed called the Short-term Rental Advocacy Center:


STRAC provides a platform for local alliances to organize, offers best practice examples, testimonials and other educational information It's easy to use, and can provide a local alliance with the information needed to help decision makers become a Smart Community.

STRAC operates under four guiding principles:

  • We believe people have a right to rent their property on a short-term basis.
  • We believe the short-term rental marketplace brings tangible benefits to homeowners, residents, travelers and local communities in destinations around the world.
  • We believe local short-term rental regulations should be easy to locate, understand and comply with.
  • We believe existing “good neighbor” laws provide sufficient protection against any disruptive behavior on the part of long-term residents or their guests.


Visitors to the site will learn more about what they can do to advocate for smart regulations of short-term rentals in their communities and sign up to for updates on new developments in their area.


To become start a local STRAC chapter in your area, visit:


Once the local alliance and supporters have achieved a positive local solution, it is important to stay organized, maintain a strong level of community involvement, self-regulate and follow the local laws. This local alliance may have reasons to activate in the future, and can play an important role in the community. By following laws – including payment of all applicable taxes – the members of the alliance create a data-stream that can be positively used in any future discussions.

Local governments will continue to discuss short-term rental regulations as the industry continues to grow, but you can help your town become a Smart Community and create a fair and appropriate regulation by relying on best practices and maintaining a strategy that is positive, transparent, solutions-oriented and data-driven.


Of course, HomeAway is always available to help. The office of government relations can provide advice and examples for a community to develop a local alliance. Email with any questions.


Matt Curtis

Director, Government Relations

HomeAway, Inc.

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