Archives For Policies & Procedures

breckenridge downtownIn many Colorado resort towns, the majority of homes in a neighborhood are second homes. Over the past 10+ years, as vacation rentals grew in popularity, so did the debate about taxes and community ambience. Should homes rented out as vacation rentals pay taxes? How do we protect the small community feel, while still encouraging the vacation rental business owners to thrive? Laws were enacted and city regulations documented. Many towns now actively enforce compliance, including Breckenridge, whose legislation is designed to keep it the quaint ski village it’s been known for.

To operate a vacation rental in Breckenridge, you must obtain the proper licenses, follow certain rules, pay annual and biennial fees and collect 11.675% in taxes from your guests. Here’s how it breaks down:

Town of Breckenridge Licensing & Taxes

Accommodation Unit License

Short-term rentals in Breckenridge are defined as rentals less than 30 consecutive days at a time. To comply with local laws, you must get an Accommodation Unit License and pay a yearly fee. The fee ranges from $75 to $175 depending on the number of bedrooms in your home. If you purchase a property that was previously used as a vacation rental, the accommodation license and fee are transferrable, and good until fees are due again the following year. Continue Reading…

maui villaWith more than 16,000 vacation rental units, Maui is one of the top spots for rentals in the United States.

What do you need to know about rules and regulations if you’re considering a rental in what locals describe as Maui nō ka ʻoi (“Maui is the best”)?

There are two kinds of vacation rental properties in the County of Maui (which includes the populated islands of Maui, Moloka’i and Lana’i):

  • “Transient Vacation Rentals”, or TVRs, which are limited to approved zones: resort areas and business districts.
  • “Short-Term Rental Homes”, or STRHs, are rentals in residential areas — and weren’t considered legal until May 2012.

Buying a rental in a resort area

Vacation rentals in resort areas are considered TVRs, described by the County as “rental of a housing unit for less than 180 days.” Continue Reading…

san francisco rentalsUrban environments tend to be trickier for vacation rental owners. In San Francisco, city administrators are pressed to protect the tight rental market for residents of varying income levels while recognizing the new reality of short-term rentals. The fact that Airbnb is headquartered in San Francisco has made it a heated political issue.

Technically, short-term rentals in San Francisco are illegal as spelled out in Administrative Code 41A, which includes corporate rentals. Enforcement, however, is passive; and last year the city decided to apply the 14% transient occupancy tax (also called hotel tax) to vacation rentals (defined in San Francisco as occupancy of less than 30 days). In addition to the hotel tax, you must remit a 1% or 1.5% tourism fee depending on your zone.

In theory you can become a licensed operator by obtaining a B&B permit, but it’s reportedly a lengthy (years) and expensive (thousands of dollars) process that isn’t guaranteed to result in success.

If you do get reported, you will be asked to discontinue renting before any legal action is taken. If you don’t stop, and you are found in violation, fines are $1,000 per rental day plus legal fees.

The debate rages on, though, so stay tuned. The board of supervisors recently amended the code so that nonprofits that protect housing rights can initiate proceedings against short-term rentals and keep the fines. This could increase the number of complaints being filed unless other agreements are reached to protect the number of affordable long-term rentals.

The information above is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. If you need legal advice, you should consult a licensed attorney in your area.

photo credit: Thomas Hawk

vacation rental taxesHotSpot Tax Services caters to the vacation rental industry and has a great list of reasons why vacation rental tax compliance is important. Among the best is that it creates an important revenue stream for state and local governments that can in turn protect our industry.

Tax is a scary little word – no one enjoys paying or collecting them – but you shouldn’t second guess your own willingness to comply. You are doing the right thing. What’s the best way to present them to guests? Continue Reading…

dictionaryAs a vacation rental owner and occasional traveller yourself, you’ve probably already noted the difference between being the person who makes a reservation, and being the person responsible for delivering on one.

Choosing to rent your second home as a vacation rental is a big decision, but it’s just the first of many.

As you set up your rental property, things you’ve never given a second thought — how much a reservation deposit should be, for example, or the difference between a property manager and a caretaker — don’t just need you to take a position. Your business depends on you making an informed decision.

Understanding the lingo is an important first step! Some terms may seem straightforward or even simple common sense, but as they say: Context is everything.

Following are some of the more common vacation rental terms explained. Wondering about a term that’s missing from the list? Please post it in the comments section below. Continue Reading…

flipkey 2012 top5s

click to view larger

Getting the optimum rate at peak times requires that you really understand your market and competition. You know what to charge, when to charge it, and how to market your vacation rental in ways that other owners are overlooking. It requires some data analysis and a lot of organization. Let’s see how your rental stacks up for the 5 busiest weeks of the year and what you can do to stay ahead of the game.

The Five Busiest Weeks of the Year

FlipKey recently blogged that, according to past data, the busiest weeks for vacation rentals are:

  1. Christmas week
  2. 4th of July week
  3. Week before Christmas
  4. Midsummer (end of July – beginning of August)
  5. Midsummer (second to last week of July)

To see if you’re ahead of the game or about to play catch up, go to HomeAway, VRBO and FlipKey to see how far in advance similar rentals are booked up for these periods. Are you happy with what you see?

5 Marketing Steps That Put Inquiries In Your Inbox

mailboxIf you still have availability during the peak season, or feel you’re not earning top dollar for your rental during those periods, make sure you’re following these steps to drive inquiries and bookings. Continue Reading…

Property Damage ProtectionWhether someone trips and breaks a dish over dinner or one of your guests throws a wild party, it’s almost inevitable that at some point, your vacation rental will suffer some damage.

Because of the near-inevitability of this, security deposits are a routine part of rental transactions.

Typically half the rental fee, a security deposit — also called a damage deposit — is typically collected by check or credit card and held until after the guest leaves and you or your housekeeper has had a chance to do a final inspection. Any damage or extra fees (e.g. additional cleaning) can then be deducted against the amount; any remainder is then refunded.

It’s a pretty straightforward process. However, deposits and deductions can also be a source of contention for two reasons: Continue Reading…

Friends and Family DiscountsWhen it comes to cutting friends and family a good deal for your vacation rental, ground rules aren’t the only thing to pay attention to.

Before you start filling your vacation rental calendar with bookings from friends and family, or resenting every request you get, consider the following six suggestions for managing what can be a delicate situation.

1. Let them know it’s a special deal

However you handle special arrangements, it’s important to let the person you’re renting to understand that the deal they’re getting is special to them.

If you’re offering your vacation rental for free, chances are that it’s to someone who’s important to you; let them know that this time away is a gift from you. If you’re offering a deep discount, share that it’s a private offer because they’re important to you. Continue Reading…

Dirty Kitchen Sink

you don’t want your kitchen left like this for the next guest

The owner with the ski-in/ski-out condo or beach-front cottage is bound to be popular. But what do you do when people you know and like come looking for a discounted or free vacation?

Being able to share your vacation rental with people you have a relationship with is one of the benefits of having a vacation home. However, doing so without carefully-considered ground rules that you’re both comfortable with lead to awkward situations, and even leave you feeling bitter or taken advantage of. Continue Reading…

Vacation Rental Check-Out ProceduresWhen your guests are getting ready to leave at the end of their vacation rental stay, it’s acceptable to leave a short list of checkout procedures for them to follow.

Be careful not to leave guests feeling overwhelmed with tasks to finish before they walk out the door; the main objective of checkout procedures is to reduce any unnecessary costs or risks (eg. fire, flood, rodents, etc.) until your property manager or cleaning person will be on site.

The Checklist

Keep the list of checkout procedures in an easy-to-find location; a couple of good options include your welcome book, on your website, and/or stuck to the fridge.

First, be sure that you clearly specify checkout time. Then list tasks like: Continue Reading…