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Fighting Over Vacation Rental Scraps

By William May
Published: 05/01/12 Topics: Comments: 0

Blog Vacation Rental Scraps

Although vacation rentals have been around for a very long time, it is only in recent years that they have exploded. Sometimes called cabin rentals, cottages, holiday-lets or other terms in other parts of the world, this private vacation lodging alternatives have gone main stream.

That has led to conflicts between home owners, management companies, and even website operators as they fight over the spoils. Even trade associations are in the act, attempting to stack the deck in ways that some attorney's think borders on violation of the Sherman Act, the federal law that prohibits price fixing, market limits and membership exclusions.

Hotels, motels and other lodging providers must be agog. At one time, The Association of Realtors reported there were six million second homes in the United States alone, with at least one million in short-term rental. A more recent examination might put that total up as high as two million properties.

The majority of rents now grabbed by vacation rentals come from nowhere else, but form conventional lodging operators. That is what causes the griping. Worse yet, direct participants in the industry are themselves squabbling and fighting over the dinner table. Everyone wants a piece of the piece, the entry and maybe even the table cloth.

The advent of the Internet is what flipped the switch on Vacation Rental Growth. Prior to the Web, how did a consumer in, let's say New Jersey, know which condo to rent in Florida? They looked at magazines, maybe checked newspaper classifieds. Some travel agents knew the inside scoop and perhaps the guest had been there before.

With technology, guests can see more information about homes than they customarily can see about houses for sale. Real Estate sales agents provide good data, but in every case the buyer gets to view the home before buying. Renters, on the other hand, buy from just what they see online. Gone are the days of the property manager mailing a brochure which, by the way, seldom showed photos specific to the property being rented.

Growth in the market has also widened the variety of properties offered. Condominium rentals have been common but cabins and houses are preferable in many locations because guests usually get more space, easier parking and better privacy.

Newly built and growing advertising website companies like HomeAway.com, have craftily inserted themselves between consumers and rental providers because they have greater search engine skills, bigger budgets and even an investment from Google.

A recent fast growing start-up AirBnB.com (stands for air-mattress bed and breakfast) convinced home owners it was a good idea to rent individual rooms and even couches or air-mattresses to complete strangers.

Unlike Homeaway, AirBnb collects money from the guests and distributes it to property owners. Recent News Reports show the websites vulnerability to problems than can arise during occupancy.

In one state, a small group of vacation rental managers had been meeting informally for years, when a small group broke off in order to exclude others from their organization. Even if restricting membership could fit within the narrow guidelines required of trade associations, the methods of back-stabbing and attempts to limit competition were unethical at best. And a violation of the Sherman Anti-trust act at the worst.

Home Owner Association meetings can turn into screaming matches when a few owners want to prohibition guests while others proclaim their property rights of rental without unreasonable restrictions.

Cities and Counties too have been getting into the act for a decade by regulating and even prohibiting home owners from renting their properties. The same property rights come into play and, in the long run, courts have been siding with a home owners right to rent. But at hearings and meetings, the arguing can reach the point of high emotions and out right screams.

Its been 20 years since, notorious Los Angeles celebrity Rodney King begged the camera, "Can't we all just get along" but it seems like even in the world of vacation rentals there are those who want to push and poke and play unfairly with others

Whether one favors rentals or not, is it time to just ask all parties to get along, to work out good solutions and to treat one another with kindness and respect?

Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0206 – 05/01/12

Comments: 0

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