Advocacy Group Fights to Change Short-Term Rental Laws

Short-term rentals—an apartment listed on Airbnb or summer home on FlipKey—violate local housing laws in some destinations. Hosts have been hit with significant fines, not to mention backlash from unhappy neighbors. But a newly formed coalition called the Short Term Rental Advocacy Center is coming to the rescue.

HomeAway and Airbnb, along with SmarterTravel sister sites TripAdvisor and FlipKey, have formed the Short Term Rental Advocacy Center to help change local housing regulations in favor of the rental space. According to the center's spokesman, Tim Doyle, "As short-term rentals grow in popularity, some communities are asking questions about how to regulate the industry. As leaders in the short-term rental marketplace, we want to make sure all stakeholders, but most importantly our customers, have a reliable source of information to contribute to this important discussion." The group maintains that people have a "right" to rent out their properties, and promises to work with policymakers to shape legislation in favor of short-term renters.

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In some communities, there's no question that short-term renters need all the help they can get. As NPR reported last week, Manhattan-resident Nigel Warren faced horrifyingly high penalties after he rented out his apartment for a few days on booking-site Airbnb. Warren's landlord was charged with running an illegal hotel and was threatened with fines of $30,0000, for which Warren offered to take responsibility.

According to New York state law, many kinds of short-term rentals are illegal, including stays of less than 30 consecutive days when the property's occupant is not at home; this, of course, describes a large chunk of Airbnb arrangements. Skift.com reports that more than half of the New York City rental listings on Airbnb are illegal.

Will the collation turn things around? It's too soon to tell. Short Term Rental Advocacy Center has already launched chapters in a handful of U.S. cities, and promises that more local chapters will be set up soon.

Do you think all residents should have the right to turn their homes into short-term rentals? Sound off in the comments.

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