In a recent Slick Talk episode, Theron Lewis shares his story of how he has liberated nearly 1 million people from Airbnb and STR bans. Theron went from almost losing his property management business in Detroit due to an STR ban to getting the ban pulled, being seated at the table with the City Council, and growing his business to a 7 figure level due to short-term rental advocacy.
What is STR advocacy?
Short-term rental advocacy safeguards your properties, your business, and your community by ensuring fair, legal, and effective regulations that protect the rights of the traveler, property owner, and management company. Short-term rental advocacy gives all stakeholders in the industry, from real estate investors to hosts and property managers, the chance to get involved in the fight to maintain strong, fair, and equitable STR policies for a sustainable future for our industry.
Why STR Advocacy Is More Important Than Ever Before!
If the pandemic taught us one thing, it’s to be prepared for the unexpected
The vacation industry saw rapid growth in 2020, and current trends show that this is set to continue into the foreseeable future. Stricter (and continually changing) regulations since the onset of the Covid pandemic means PMs have had to adapt and remain agile to maintain growth and stay up to date with local/state regulations, enhanced safety protocols, and new, or amended, short-term rental ordinances.
We hear of constant conflict between property owners, neighbors, and city governments, resulting in a continual threat of short-term rental bans globally. Unacceptable noise levels (NoiseAware), occupancy limits, party houses, and lack of affordable housing for locals are top of the list in the battle against short-term rentals. In an effort to regulate, local governments are clamping down on issuing new licenses, imposing a cap, or placing an outright ban in neighborhoods that are overly saturated.
In February 2021, after nearly two years of attempted regulations, Irvine California placed an outright ban on all short-term rentals. This follows amended ordinances for short-term rentals in New York, San Francisco, Honolulu, New Orleans, and Las Vegas. These ordinances are used as benchmarks for other cities. Advocacy needs to be put in place before it reaches this stage.
State-mandated shutdowns placed huge economic pressure on local governments, and with a boom in summer travel, we can expect to see stricter enforcement of licensing and taxes to boost tourism revenue in cash-strapped destinations.
As cities figure out how to regulate this booming industry, it’s our responsibility to get involved, ensure fair advocacy is put in place (without extreme measures), and educate policymakers on the positive impact of short-term rentals that extend far beyond tourism revenue.
The Three Pillars of Short-Term Rental Advocacy
“If you’re not at the table, you’ll be on the menu.”
Steve Milo, CEO of VTrips
Each destination and community is unique, yet Theron has formed a tried and tested strategy that achieves success across the board. He believes there are three pillars of short-term advocacy that together will save any short-term rental market, as it did in his hometown of Detroit.
Create a Local Alliance: If your community has a STR advocacy group in place, it’s time to get involved, collaborate with like-minded hosts and property managers, and build a powerful advocacy group that understands the market, is passionate to educate the community and local council, and strives for long-term success.
If your STR market does not have an advocacy group, create one! Integrate with your community, neighbors, and “competitors”, be proactive in your industry, and partner with the right people. Find strong alliances, industry experts, and policymakers that understand state and local ordinances and know the right channels to create fair and sustainable regulations in your community … and get you in the room!
Get in the Room: It’s not enough to just get in the room. You need a seat at the table. While it’s important to gather short-term rental data to educate city planners on the local market and how it benefits the community, Theron’s experience shows that building a strong presence and creating an emotional story from voters within the community is what resonates most with council members. Of course, a combination of both gives you a stronger voice at the table.
OTAs: There’s strength in numbers and power in knowledge. OTA’s can play an important role in short-term rental advocacy. Build a good relationship with the OTA representatives that are heading up your destination to side with you, share their market knowledge, guide you in the advocacy process, represent your community and be at the table with you.
The Big Take Away - Awareness!
The big takeaway is creating awareness! Many hosts and property managers are not aware of short-term advocacy and the positive impact it has on the community and their business. But, this is not a battle we fight alone!
There are many industry experts taking the lead on short-term rental advocacy and modern tech-enabled compliance programs and guest screening services emerging to lead and assist us on the advocacy journey and encourage responsible renting.
The surge in demand in STRs has seen an increase in new rentals on the market, many looking to fill their pockets or cover their bonds after lockdown, furlough, or unemployment! Uneducated and irresponsible hosts are equally as hazardous to the STR industry as unfair regulations. We need to create awareness with hosts, property managers, and policymakers.
Industry advocate Matt Landau of VRMB says
“When you begin to think about the future of the industry one, three, five years into the future, advocacy quickly emerges as the biggest risk factor: irresponsible hosts are the biggest threat to our collective survival”
Theron’s mission is to help cities and businesses prevent the situation he unexpectedly found himself in and create as many organizations as possible to protect the global STR industry from unfair regulations.
For encouragement and an educated look at short-term rental advocacy, listen to the full story here.