Top 8 FAQs about Running a Short-Term Rental Advocacy Group

With the emergence and often cyclical re-emergence of regulatory discussion around short-term rentals, advocating for fairness and reasonable rules has become a necessary element of participating in the modern short-term rental economy. Below you will find 10 frequently asked questions we’ve received about running a short-term rental advocacy group. If you have any specific questions, feel free to reach out to me directly at david@rentresponsibly.org.

1. How do you start a Short Term Rental Advocacy Group?

It begins with a solid mission statement. Know the goals of your organization and consider something that will serve to tell your members and the community what you stand for.

Think beyond politics. While many people think of advocacy solely in regards to promoting our legal rights, it is much more than that. We think promoting the community around you, contributing to the local economy and helping the community of fellow hosts are also important to a well-rounded short term rental organization.

2. How do you connect with other STR supporters?

Speak with everyone you know about the fact that you are a short-term rental owner/ host. Share it on social media, with your friends, family and everyone who touches your rental (cleaners, realtor, insurance agents, etc). Often, those people are happy to support you and connect you to fellow hosts.

There are several public facebook groups for short term rental owners. Search for “short term rental owners in (your area)” or “Airbnb Hosts in (your area)” or “Vrbo owners in (your area)”. Likely you will find 1-2 where other hosts already exist. If none exist, create one!

Post on national Facebook groups looking for other hosts in your area. For instance, you can head to the Rent Responsibly Facebook group and ask if there are any fellow hosts in your area.

Try looking in local real estate investor groups and post asking if anyone else owns a short term rental.

Reach out to local short term rental property management companies. Often, their reach will be much larger than an individual host.

Talk to your elected representatives even if there is no proposed regulation on the table. Understand their position and be sure they understand yours.

Speak with your local real estate association and various real estate offices.

Connect with and promote local, neighborhood businesses. Put their cards and brochures in your home and note them in your digital or printed welcome books. You can also feature them on your website and/ or social media pages. Ask them to connect you with other hosts if they know of any.

3. Do you need to set up a legal entity or not-for-profit group?

Creating a Board or Leadership group is important. Inevitably there will be work and that work will need to be distributed. Don’t try to be like Atlas and lift the world up on your own. Make sure to be frank with your other leaders about the commitment level you can provide and the commitment level you expect from them.

Likely you will need to form as a 501(c)-3 or 501(c)-6 but it is important to seek the advice of someone with legal / accounting/ tax experience to discuss what works best for you.

4. What do I do about raising money?

You may not need a ton of money but at some point you will want to charge for membership (both individuals, management companies, company sponsors). This will bring with it expectations of value exchange so offering promotions, events, discounted items etc will come with the territory.

When and if you start raising money, make sure you have a diverse stream of funds coming in (membership, donations from businesses or beneficiaries that are involved, affiliate programs) to make your organization more sustainable.

5. What do I need to know about getting support from Airbnb, HomeAway and Booking.com?

First of all, Rent Responsibly is not affiliated with Airbnb, HomeAway or Booking.com. We are friends, though! You should keep in mind that these platforms each have different business models and therefore different interests. Not a bad thing, just a reality.

The platforms certainly do care about you and your group. There are some great folks from Airbnb, HomeAway and Booking.com working to help advocate on your behalf.

It is still important to stand on your own as individual owners but partner with the OTAs where it makes sense. We suggest you check out the blog that Megan McCrea, President of the Nashville Area Short Term Rental Association wrote regarding being an independent owner: click here

6. How can I find out what the existing rules and regulations are?

Call your city and/ or county (every area is different). Great places to start are Code Enforcement, City Council Members office and the Planning Commission.

There is good information online but you definitely want to make direct outreach.

Set up Google Alerts and sign up for your City Hall agenda and keep an eye out for anything that may impact Short Term Rentals in your area.

7. How do I find companies that will support my STR Advocacy Group?

Some great places to start include: tourism development council (TDC/ CVC), local Realtors Association, local real estate investment groups and local businesses who benefit economically from short term rentals.

Think of any company that touches your/other short term rentals: property management companies, cleaning companies, handymen, lawn maintenance, etc.

8. When is it time to seek legal guidance?

It is never too early to engage a lawyer or lobbyist who can help you understand the legal issues at play. However, we absolutely recommend that you get legal help once discussion even begins of a new bill, ordinance and proposal.