The Florida Professional Vacation Rental Coalition is starting the year with some “TLC.”
With tourism in Florida returning to near pre-pandemic levels and vacation rentals in ever-higher demand, legislators and the public want to know the real difference between spring breakers’ “party central” and homes that operate with professionalism.
What exactly does “professional” mean in the world of vacation rentals?
The Vacation Rental Management Association, the preeminent international organization that represents the professional vacation rental community, says that professionalism can be defined as “Taxpaying, Local, and Consistent,” or TLC.
“These elements provide uniformity and predictability — for vacationers, state and local officials, the business community, and the public,” notes Kimberly Miles, the group’s executive director. “They set high standards to protect property and people. And they are designed to be clear and workable.”
Vacation rentals provide occupancy taxes that help localities provide vital services and balance budgets. As outlined by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, these taxes have a tremendous benefit in promoting travel, tourism, local infrastructure, and the local economy. In Okaloosa County, for example, the tourism tax produced almost $19 million, and funded services from trash removal to infrastructure, and law enforcement to beach restoration.
On the other hand, non-professional managers can fail to collect the proper occupancy taxes, or don’t collect them at all, resulting in significant lost revenue to the state.
In addition to occupancy taxes, professional managers have detailed knowledge of the areas near their properties and encourage guests to spend time and money within the local community during their stays. This generates additional tax revenue, creates jobs, and furthers local economic growth.
Professional management also means local involvement, says Steve Milo, president of the Florida Professional Vacation Rental Coalition.
“We attend community meetings to understand the feelings of residents. We follow local rules concerning noise, trash, and parking, and provide a cost-effective solution for communities in addressing these issues. We employ many people to provide upkeep and services to the rental property. And we have a specific person responsible for each rental, available to make the experience a positive one,” he said.
Milo likens professional managers’ local involvement to a fire department that operates out of different stations across a city. His company has 4,000 rentals throughout the country, but each has a local professional manager to protect and serve each property.
Supporters of professionally managed vacation rentals say the public can count on consistent quality — from understanding local ordinances to protecting the character of the neighborhood — for a simple reason: it’s their job.
“Professionals have processes and solutions, tested over time, for every guest and property owner,” said Lino Maldonado, a member of the VISIT FLORIDA board of directors, a past chair of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and the president and managing partner of BeHome 247 Technologies.
“Our success depends on utilizing best practices, on every property, all the time, including safety, security, health protections, housekeeping, maintenance, bookkeeping, and property inspections.”
The Coalition is supportive of a balanced, fair, and effective vacation rental policy, thereby enhancing the vacation rental experience to guests and homeowners throughout the state.