How to use VRMA advocacy tools when regulations arise
It certainly is no surprise nowadays to see a local vacation rental ordinance appear on the city council’s meeting agenda. As vacation rentals have gained popularity, so has the number of regulations and mixed feelings towards them. A lot of property managers may be aware of possible regulations, but don’t know what actions they can take to be heard or combat the issues. How do I stop them from becoming law? How do I work with my local government to help create a fair law?
Here are some useful steps and resources:
First things first, you will need to obtain the proposal or submitted ordinance. If only an initial discussion was held, be sure to obtain the meeting minutes. It is important to determine what aspects of the ordinance are bad for your business. Other things to consider include recognizing if there are any policymakers who are clearly supportive of short-term rentals, or has any local opposition emerged? This will help you understand who is already in your corner and who isn’t.
The next action to take would be to organize with other vacation rental managers. If you haven’t started an alliance of fellow managers, property managers, and businesses before the regulatory issue arises, VRMA provides some resources and tools to do so. Check out our Advocacy Toolkit, in the Advocacy Action Center, for videos and tips on how to organize an alliance, engage members, fundraise, and get your message out to others.
Once you’re organized, it’s time to inform and engage policymakers. Keeping them informed is crucial in ensuring that you are a stakeholder in any regulation discussion. Here are some tools that can help you along the way:
VRMA Voice: Messaging Guide. It is a great tool to help assist in promoting professional vacation rental managers and responding to policymakers and opponents.
Economic impact studies. These studies are also extremely useful tools in showing policymakers the importance of vacation rentals. You can find a handful of them in our toolkit.
Existing alliances and groups. Check out the Connect tab in the toolkit to find a state or local alliance near you the broader short-term rental community.
If you know in advance that a law might be considered soon, bring the issue up now on your own terms. Create a list of objections and alternatives to what was proposed. Utilize the VRMA National Policy Agenda to explain what our industry stands for and our views on short-term rental regulations, taxes, and more. If your community has already proposed a regulatory plan, then you want to schedule a meeting with your mayor and city council member(s) or, in some cases, the planning commission members. Be clear and concise when communicating, and remain focused on the issue at hand with fact-based points. This is where you can use your list of objections and alternatives to show which regulations you support and which are not good for your business. Remember to emphasize the economic benefits of vacation rentals, as everyone loves jobs and a growing economy.
Utilize some of these tips and resources to help your cause and build up relationships with your public officials. They will understand your stance on potential future regulations and you will begin to find more allies on your side if/when they appear!