Jennifer Frankenstein-Harris: Vacation rentals support tourism

VACTION RENTALS 2

I recently traveled to Tallahassee to represent the Florida Vacation Rental Management Association (FL VRMA), and an industry which has become a vital part of Florida’s tourism economy, at Tourism Day at the Capitol.

There, I had the opportunity to listen to an encouraging speech given by Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) President and CEO Carol Dover. One that we would like to hold her to.

Having seen her previous comments deriding vacation rentals in our state, I sat back prepared to hear more of the same.

However, I was pleasantly surprised when she began with a question I too have been asking … why would the FRLA not embrace vacation rentals?

Vacation rentals create extra capacity for the ever-increasing number of travelers coming to our beautiful state. These same visitors help support local businesses and restaurants, some of which are members of the FRLA.

As vacation rentals, fueled by easy to use online platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway, have increased in popularity, some have suggested that the Florida hotel industry must be suffering. The data show the opposite — the Florida hotel industry is growing as well.

Many middle-class individuals rely on their ability to use their homes as vacation rentals for extra cash to pay the bills, buy new school clothes for their kids, or save for a new car. This extra income pumps millions of dollars into local economies and benefits all businesses.

As the saying goes: “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

Reputable vacation rental owners and managers, like myself, want to do what is right and pay our fair share of taxes back to our local and state government. We are not looking for a “free ride.”

As Dover continued her remarks, I found myself nodding along. FRLA, she stated, is trying to accomplish just three main things when it comes to vacation rentals:

First, make sure all vacation rentals are registered and licensed through the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. We agree.

Second, require that a license number be included on all advertisements. We agree.

Third, ensure vacation rental owners are paying the same taxes that everyone else pays. Again, we agree.

I was only disappointed when she stopped short of expressing support for Senator [Greg] Steube’s and Representative [Mike] La Rosa’s bills. As they are currently drafted, the bills protect the private property rights of all homeowners and ensure that regulations are applied uniformly. I remain hopeful that one day soon our organizations will be standing side by side in support of this legislation.

It should not matter whether a homeowner chooses to rent their home on a short-term or long-term basis, or not at all—local ordinances should be applied equally. Noise is noise and trash is trash, regardless of who is inhabiting the home.

And that is why statewide standards are so important and must be a part of the conversation.

Dover acknowledged that uniform regulations at the state level were essential to Florida’s restaurant and lodging industry that, prior to the late-1980s, struggled with how to deal with regulations that varied vastly across 67 counties and 457 municipalities.

Property owners should be afforded the same advantage.

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Jennifer Frankenstein-Harris is President of the Florida Vacation Rental Management Association.

Guest Author


7 comments

  • Paula

    January 30, 2018 at 7:25 am

    Let people who are IN THEIR HOME DURING THE SHORT-TERM VACATION RENTAL rent.

    But, entire-home rentals where the owner (virtually all investors) is not home, needs to be controlled. Those are the houses that cause all the issues. (We had one investor with 16 houses/lots in our community -he lived in the Midwest.) These are the short-term rentals that cause huge problems.

    So…Owner present – okay; owner not present during short-term rentals – not okay with controls. It’s that simple.

    • Jennifer Frankenstein

      January 30, 2018 at 7:55 am

      Entire-home rental owners are NOT “virtually all investors”. You are very misinformed. We are citizens who have worked our entire lives to own a home and because of our incredibly hard work, a SECOND home. One we can use now to share with vacationers to our state, promoting our largest industry- TOURISM and a home we can retire to after we are done working for 45 years to support the infrastructure of the United States of America. I am a retired school teacher who recognized the need to get my beach front property rented to help my future retirement plans. I am licensed and insured and grew my business to 275 homes, helping owners use their second homes to secure their futures. NONE of the properties are owner investors.

      • Paula

        January 30, 2018 at 8:22 am

        If you’re renting out an entire other house as a way to support your retirement, you are an investor. Same as if you’re invested in the stock market – you are an investor.
        Those homes without the owner present are the issue. No problem when the owner is home and renting out a portion of his/her home – then there is control over what is happening inside the house. Communities zoned single-family should not have whole house rentals (no owner present). People didn’t buy into communities in Florida to live in a transient neighborhood. Note that Steube, sponsor of a bill to let anyone do whatever they want with their house, lives on more than five acres. Easy for him to promote this as he is not affected. And, he speaks for the vacation rental industry at their national meetings. It’s a shame some of our legislators are not doing what their constituents want.

        • Jennifer Frankenstein

          January 30, 2018 at 9:14 am

          A residential property is not like the stock market at all. You can’t LIVE in the stock market. If you purchased a home in a community that allows short term rentals then this is what you signed up for. My suggestion is for property owners to research zoning before you buy. All vacation rentals that are operating in zoned areas that are not legally authorized to do vacation rentals are not supported by our organization. Home owners are operating within the law when they rent out their homes. The zoning supports their right.

          • Paula

            January 30, 2018 at 2:38 pm

            There are lots of different kinds of investments – housing, bitcoin, stocks, futures, etc.
            Steube’s bill that passed the Senate today says that zoning doesn’t matter – people can do whatever they want with their properties. These politicians (like Steube and La Rosa who owns a real estate company that specializes in “short-term rental investments) are in the pockets of Airbnb and Homeway and will hopefully be voted out next election for not representing their constituents.

            Listen to today’s Senate meeting, hear what was said, and see how many “appearance cards” from those who were there want unfettered short-term rentals (the investors and businesses do), and those who don’t want unfettered short-term renters (the people who live in communities and want neighborhoods, not strangerhoods). Those who don’t want unfettered short-term rentals vastly outnumber those who do (particularly when you remove the businesses that spoke from the mix).

          • Jennifer Frankenstein-

            January 30, 2018 at 6:19 pm

            Yes, it passed, as it should have. Watched every minute. The only people in the “pockets” of someone are those who are pocket lined by the hotel industry. They have behind the scenes (Airbnb watch) and now in front of the scenes (screaming for a level playing field and “hotel” regulations on residential homes, waged this battle. It’s much bigger than a bad neighbor. If you have a Long term bad neighbor it’s much worse than a vacation rental. Let’s just go ahead and build a Marriott or Hilton right in the middle of your neighborhood and see how that goes.

  • Paula

    January 30, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    You are President of the Florida VRMA. I am a full-time Florida resident who bought into a community zoned single family that had 16 houses/lots owned by an out of state investor. Nothing else needs to be said.

Comments are closed.


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