Erinn, several of us in an informal owners’ group who have been pushing Hawaii state and county legislators to enforce laws to capture illegal TVR operations received a letter at our personal homes in Hawaii, purporting to be from VRBO.
We immediately confirmed with VRBO that VRBO has been writing to Hawaii homeowners urging them to use their home as a TVR. VRBO is using the County tax records to harvest the addresses. I have re-typed the VRBO letter below.
Hawaii anti-TVR legislation has been a long fight; we began in 2012. We’ve worked hard to educate HI TVR owners about their responsibilities, and to work with legislators to gain their efforts to step up enforcement of illegal rentals. And we've worked hard, and at great financial expense, to ensure resulting legislation is balanced.
Erinn, this VRBO letter makes no reference to zoning or bylaws that prohibit vacation rentals; and yet it’s reached some of us at our personal homes in areas where such short-term rentals are prohibited. Meaning this VRBO letter has likely reached others in our communities, too. Some who have worked hard to rid the neighborhoods of such illegal TVRs.
To be clear, this VRBO letter has been sent to individuals based on County records of home ownership. It’s arriving in the mailboxes of homeowners in areas where TVRs are prohibited, and where community voices are quite clear on the need for legislators to help them regain control of their neighborhoods from illegal TVRs.
Erinn, this VRBO letter will, no doubt, fuel further anti-TVR sentiment and legislation from Hawaii in January, when bills are introduced. Never mind the counties.
Accordingly, Erinn, could I ask you to talk to your VRBO colleagues who authored and distributed the letter for four reasons:
1) Ask them to reconsider their approach, and if VRBO must undertake such blind solicitation on such a controversial topic, insert language which makes it clear that those interested in taking up VRBO on its solicitiation that they open up their home to TVR use should first verify if it is legal for them to do so;
2) Ask your head of VRBO policy to write to appropriate state and county officials in Hawaii, referencing the VRBO letter, and making it clear that VRBO is only soliciting listings from owners who have determined that it is legal to offer short-term vacation rentals at the location, and that it will make such a distinction clear in any future solicitations;
3) Let everyone on this Community Forum know what other states, counties and localities, i.e., San Diego, have benefitted from this same VRBO solicitation so that legal operators of legal TVRs in such locations can be aware of what our VRBO partner has done that may well cause them to be targeted by anti-TRV action as a result; and,
4) Let the Community Forum know the next time such a VRBO solicitation is being planned in order that we can assist VRBO in editing same in order that VRBO does not distribute materials that can be interpreted as promoting illegal rentals, or which will, for lack of writing clarity or sensitivity, draw state or county ire to those who operate legal TVRs.
Below is the VRBO letter VRBO confirmed to us that it sent out in Hawaii:
[Addressed to homeowners, per County tax records]
October 15, 2018
Dear [Name of home owner from County tax records],
Right now there’s an unprecedented demand from our travelers for places to stay in [location, HI]. If you’ve ever thought of renting your home as a short-term vacation rental; there’s no better time.
Listing your home on VRBO is easy and straightforward. It’s always free to try and there’s no up front commitment. We’ve got all the tools and insights you need to get started — from helping you decide on the best price for your rental to effectively promoting your rental to our hundreds of millions of travelers. You can do everything yourself at VRBO.com or take advantage of our consultants who can help you at no additional cost.
With VRBO, you’re always in control of when to rent, who stays at your place, and your house rules. And all online bookings are covered by $1 million liability insurance and 24/7 support free of charge, so your property is protected before during and after every traveler stay.
To find out what you could earn renting your home, visit vrbo.com/rent or call us at 1-866-314-7260 (8am-5pm, Mon-Fri) and we can answer and questions and help you set up your listing before the winter rush.
Hope to hear from you soon,
Your VRBO Owner Success Team
1011 W 5th St #300 l Austin, TX l 78703 l www.vrbo.com