Got Your Panties in a Bunch Over Vacation Rentals?

NeighborMrsKravitzWhy is everyone so angry?

I found the following posted on Facebook by 95.5 the Rock, radio station, April 19th.  I have copied it word for word.  Click on the picture to go directly to the Facebook post or read below.

Screenshot_2015-06-29-18-57-37_resizedThis was in a mailbox in Arizona…how would you respond to something like this?

Dear “Neighbor”

You just moved into this neighborhood a year ago, and I wanted to give you time to correct this problem on your own, but you are apparently too inconsiderate to do so.  Every day this week, when weather has been nice and windows are open, you proceed to let your small child run free in your backyard and laugh and giggle and carry on without end.  This is very disruptive for my two dogs and my bird who sits next to the window and like to look into your yard.  Perhaps you could ask him to tone it down a bit, or at least limit his outside time to 15 – 20 mins a day so my dogs can be outside without seeing him running around.  If this kind of behavior persists, I WILL CALL THE POLICE!

Really???  I don’t remember there being so much anger twenty or thirty years ago … or is that just me?  I’ve been accused of wearing rose colored glasses a time or two.  But I remember a time when people were not so sensitive; when children’s laughter was a good thing, when live and let live prevailed.  If year-round neighbors cannot get along, there “isn’t a hope in hell” that vacation home owners can expect to get along with year-round neighbors.  This letter burns me up on so many levels, but it is a typical example of the nonsense complaints I hear from year-round neighbors.

Here are a few complaints that I’ve received …

A local resident called me to complain that the tenants in the vacation rental home next to his house let loose about six helium balloons … just let them fly off into the sky.  I told him that this was not a violation or against the law.  His response was that people do not behave like that in his neighborhood.  Turns out this tenant had rented the house to celebrate a sixth wedding anniversary and the six balloons released by their children represented six decades of marriage and a wish for many more years to come.  But people don’t behave that way in this neighborhood.  Shame on these tenants!

The next city over at another vacation rental property, the neighboring resident called to explain that two teens were throwing a football in the middle of the street.  The property is located on a quiet cul-de-sac and when I asked whether the teens were blocking traffic or being disrespectful in some way, the resident told me no, but he did not think it was appropriate behavior and once again I heard that people do not behave that way in his neighborhood.  I for one grew up throwing a football in the middle of the street and can think of about a million things I would not want to see a teen do … but throwing a football in the middle of the street is not one of them.  Shame on these teens!

originalI’ve received dozens of calls, days and night, reporting open garage doors and trash bins set by the curb on the wrong day.  These kind of calls are typically relayed with such over-the-top anger that it would humorous if the caller wasn’t so serious.  Really … an open garage door is cause for such agony?  I just don’t get it.  I live in a nice neighborhood and I see this kind of thing every single day and never would I think of complaining or reacting as if I was in fear for my life.  But if it’s a vacation rental … that is an entirely different story.

It’s just a small presentage of residents but they make a lot of noise … the vocal minority.  But why all the anger and hostility?

Why?  Sometimes we get legitimate complaints which should be reported.   Unless you live in the country with acres around your home, chances are, you’re going to have a “bad” neighbor at some time or another.  Unfortunately we can’t choose our neighbors.  There just isn’t any kind of interview process where you can “test drive” the neighborhood for compatibility prior to purchasing a home.  Sometimes you get a great friend; sometimes you get Mrs. Kravitz!  At least with a vacationing tenant, if you get a bad one, they’ll be out shortly … and most likely not return.  It doesn’t work that way with a year round renter or owner.  There have been many times in my life where I would have been greatful for a vacation renter rather than the person that lived on the other side of my back yard fence.  I’ve moved a lot and experienced way too many Mrs. Kravitz types.

Why?  Many neighbors are angry because they think that the owner of the vacation rental property is making a fortune.  I hear this a lot at HOA and City Council Meetings.  The neighbor finds the property listed on the internet, or “knows someone” who tells them how much they saw the property listed at per night.  They always take the nightly rate and multiply it by 365 nights!  Oh don’t we all just wish!!  Here in the desert we are lucky to get four months cumulative in rental bookings.  There are many factors that these residents are not considering.  A nightly rate is the highest cost … the longer the property is rented, the lower the rate.  Example:  $450 per night for 365 nights … $164,250.  I can assure you that that is just not happening.  More like two nights at $450 so that is $900 for the weekend, two to three weeks out of the month if they are lucky.  During season that same property rents for $6,000 per month … but like I’ve explained … it will not rent at $6,000 per month for twelve months.  Still the owner is lucky to get four months of bookings with a combination of nightly, weekly and monthly renters.  For a property that rents at $450 per night/$6,000 per month … it’s probably a property valued in the $400,000 to $600,000 range.  Now think of the carry costs.  Mortgage payment on a $600,00 home plus utilities including full cable, Wi-Fi and phones, electric, gas, water, trash, twice weekly pool service and once weekly gardening if it’s a home, HOA fees if it’s in a country club, cleaning, upkeep, etc.  Bottom line … owners are not making a living from their vacation rental home.  Chances are that the home is an investment towards their retirement waiting till the day they can move into the property.   Or it may be a vacation home that they use on and off throughout the year and they do vacation rentals to offset some of the costs of owning a vacation property.  Here in the desert … vacation rental homes are not huge money makers … our “season” is simply too short.  So why are the neighboring residents so angry at the thought of the owner making money?  Jealousy … I don’t think as much as … why should they make money and I have to put up with the bad behavior.  Like putting the trash bins out on the wrong day or hearing kids splash around in a pool that is not typically used … bad neighbor!

Why?  I have actually spoken to several residents who have no complaints about the tenants and in fact have made friends with many vacationers.  When I asked one particular resident why she stood with the group that did not like vacation rentals, she told me that her “neighbors” don’t like them and she was only trying to be supportive and not oppose these friends that she lives with year-round.  It’s what everyone says in the neighborhood, she told me.  When I pointed out that she rented properties from Vacation Rentals of the Desert each year around Thanksgiving for family overflow, and asked what she would do if a ban on short rentals was mandated she responded; I will just rent directly through a home owner and the HOA and city won’t know.  This is an inevitable truth … if short rentals are banned, owners will go underground and rent out their properties anyway.    A ban will not eliminate short term rentals … and these rentals will have no accountability, no regulation, no oversight, will not pay the transient occupancy tax to the city and are extremely difficult for authorities to prove, charge and stop.  I’ll give you an example of the “friendship effect” at yet another of the properties I manage.  Two neighbors approached me a couple of years ago and expressed great anger (hostility really), at the owner renting the property.  I will also note that the new owner remodeled the entire property and the home went from a run-down house with dead landscape to a show place home, which also improved the property values of the surrounding homes.  Anyway as I was saying, the neighbors were angry about rentals and said that they were going to complain to the city ordinance officers so much that the owner would have to sell the property.  They also shared that they had no problem complaining and often called city ordinance to report the lady who lived directly behind the vacation rental home.  Apparently she is an artist who played her music too loud when she was painting in her back yard.  I personally found this to be true on several of my visits to the property.  Some time went by and sure enough, I started getting calls … but from the tenants, not the city.  The neighbors were shouting across the back walls for the tenants to stop jumping in the pool and making noise.  Code Compliance was called and actually got after the neighbors, threatening to issue a fine for the nuisance calls they were making to the city.  I was at the property for one of these calls and the neighbors met me by my car … the two neighbors that originally approached me plus the lady who played her music too loud when she painted!  Guess they all found common ground in the “agonizing ordeal” of dealing with vacation renters and now her loud music was no longer the source of their anger!  Really???  Come on people … live and let live!

So … the city has their monthly City Council Meetings and the residents complain about vacation rentals.  So … the city throws more rules and regulations into the ordinance to quiet the residents.  In the long run, with more rules to violate this just gives the residents more reasons to call city ordinance.  So they write in another regulation instead of dealing with the source of the problem.

I think a better way of handling this problem would be to talk to local residents about the importance of vacation rentals and try to get a handle on all the exaggerated hostility.   Of course, rental owners and vacation rental companies should be included in these discussions since they will need to take responsibility by educating and monitoring tenants at their properties.   We need to defuse the “over-the-top” anger and work together because vacation rentals are a great source in bringing money to local businesses, jobs to all the various people needed to service these properties,  generate needed tax money for our cities and is great for tourism and real estate sales.

To residents I would say … most vacation renters are exactly like you and if the opportunity presented itself, would probably be good friends.  They are on a hard-earned vacation in our wonderful desert, pretty much the same as you were many years ago.  They may even fall in love with the area and buy a property; perhaps retire here, just like you.  Remember your own children jumping into the pool and splashing around, remember your family BBQs?  Most likely these folks are YOU … just some years ago.

I wish we could all get along together just enough to fix this situation … unfortunately this is happening everywhere.  So why are people so angry these days?  I guess it’s always been this way.  After all, it was over fifty years ago, in 1964 when Mrs. Kravitz first appeared on Bewitched.   I guess the better question would be … what “if” we could all get along and make this work?

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Advertise on Facebook to Generate More Rentals!

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Perfect picture for a dog friendly property.

I have a great article to share with you today. Whether you manage your own vacation rental home or list your home with a professional company, if you’re not on Facebook, you are losing out on a great advertising source … and it’s free! Once your Facebook Property Page is up and running, LIKE it through your personal Facebook page so that any content you post will automatically appear on your page … then share it with all your friends. Just think … you share it with your friends, they share it with their friends, and so on and so forth … and you’ve built a following. Now have fun with it but heed the tips listed below and don’t sell just the property, all the time. Post personal photos and stories from times when you and your family have visited the property or “share” area events and attractions which can easily be found in internet searches. The goal is to make your followers want to stay at your vacation home by showing them how desirable it is and what a great time they will have. In addition, Facebook is a great marketing tool that will not only build relationships with your potential guests but also generate a level of trust that surpasses that of a simple property listing.

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5 Must-Follow Tips for Marketing Your Vacation Rental on Facebook

Mar 15, 2013

by Jonathan Murray of MyVR.com

Social media isn’t just another medium to broadcast your message. It’s also a channel for building relationships and soft selling. Facebook is an excellent way to turn existing customers into repeat customers that also generate referral business. It’s a place to nurture past guests, nurture those who were interested in your home but didn’t book, and keep in touch with top influencers (i.e. family and friends who may not book directly, but will likely refer you to friends and colleagues who will book).

If you don’t have a Facebook Page for your vacation rental, set one up here. This is different than your personal profile – it’s the home base for your business on Facebook.

Then, make sure you’re following these top 5 tips for marketing on Facebook:

1. Don’t promote yourself all the time

Rookie mistake #1. If every post is “stay at my home,” “rent my villa,” or “check out my place,” you’re not going to have many fans for long. You can talk about your home once in every five posts (or less). Don’t try to sell too much on Facebook. It’s all about building and nurturing relationships with your fans. This means you’ll need to come up with other compelling content to publish, so experiment and see what fans interact with most.

2. Post photos and other engaging content

Photos have the highest engagement from fans (i.e. comments and “likes”), followed by videos, so give them what they want to see. Yes, that means having stunning photos of your home, but also include shots from the surrounding area and local attractions. Remember, people have “liked” your Page because they want to stay connected with you in some way. Not every traveler is ready to book today, so help them daydream about their next vacation and when they’re ready, they’ll let you know.

You can also post local updates, special offers and deals, recognize special occasions for travelers, ask your fans for feedback, or share personal notes. Here are 10 more specific examples for ideas.

3. Post frequently, but don’t inundate fans

You should post at least 1-2 times per week, but not so much that people are annoyed – no more than once per day. You don’t want your Page to look like a ghost town, so be prepared to commit at least 10-20 minutes per week to Facebook.

You can also use Facebook’s scheduling tool to post content up to 6 months in advance. That might be a bit overkill, but it’s great for when you’re out on vacation – just leave enough room for last-minute, spontaneous additions.

4. Understand the network-effect

Not every post you publish will be seen by all of your fans. Facebook only shows your post to a sub-set of fans on their wall. As people interact with your content, Facebook allows that post to be seen by more and more people – including friends of your fans who may not even like your Page yet. This is why it’s okay if you only have a 100 fans on your Page and all the more reason to post enticing content.

5. Track your success

The way travelers purchase on the internet has changed. They do a lot more research before they ever pick up the phone or send an email to talk to you. While you should track direct bookings that resulted through your Facebook activity, try to correlate the effect of Facebook as an influencing source on your inquiries and bookings.

For example, how many of those people who inquired on your property have “liked” your page. How many have “liked” your page after visiting your website or inquiring on your property? How many referrals did you receive from your Facebook fans?

These measurements will help you decide whether to keep up the hard work or focus your time and resources elsewhere.

6. [Bonus] Get ready for graph search

Facebook’s new feature, Graph Search, lets you search for what you’re looking for through your friends and connections. For vacation rental owners, this means more transparency for travelers about how they’re connected to you. Instead of operating on trust that you are reliable or have advertised your home truthfully, travelers can now see (and choose to rent or not rent) from owners within their network.

Travelers will also be able to search for friends who have stayed at a vacation rental in a specific location and see photos they’ve shared of their trip. It will make the research process even more transparent, drive referral business for popular rentals, and continue changing the way people rent online.

Graph Search is only available to a limited number of users, but expect it to be rolled out across Facebook by the end of the year. In the meantime, make sure to get your page live, continue building your social network, and follow the previous 5 tips to maximize your vacation rental presence on Facebook.

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FlipKey is a vacation rental marketplace with more than 300,000 rentals around the world. Find the perfect place to stay for your trip, and get great value along with the space, privacy and amenities of home.

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Desert is in High Demand

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Some call the desert “a fun place to come to” others say, “it’s something about the energy,” but for thousands escaping harsh winter climates, they call the greater Palm Springs area their “home away from home.” As the number of vacation rentals grow, so do the number of visitors and in turn, many of these visitors will purchase properties of their own. Vacation Rentals of the Desert has experienced this over and over. In the past five years we have lost at least a dozen renter-clients who after being long time seasonal renters have purchased a property and are now owner-clients, listing their property on our vacation rental program.  This “vacation rental effect” has helped our local economy, increased home sales and helped to bring back much of the desert tourism that was literally dying. Once known as “God’s waiting room,” the desert is now being recognized as a younger, more hip community. Drawing world-wide attention with mega music festivals, world-class tennis and golf championships and more recently, the rebirth of modernism, Palm Springs is successfully rebranding itself to draw a younger population. It just might be the shot in the arm that this desert needs.

Slim Aarons Poolside Gossip Palm Springs ChicThis week I found a Facebook post that I want to share with all my followers. Whether local residents or not, I think you will enjoy this short segment from one of our local evening newscasts. This story aired on KESQ, Channel 3, April 23, 2015.  “With the music festivals finishing up this weekend, the Palm Springs area is a hot spot that’s gone global. As Bianca Rae shows us, the desert is once again back in demand.”  Click on the link below …

http://www.kesq.com/desert-is-in-high-demand/32550342

 

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April is Festival Month

This has been one very busy week …  and thank goodness, I think my staff survived.  Guess I’ll find out Monday morning!   April 1st …  it’s the busiest departure day of the season, but it’s been so hot in the desert these past few weeks that our guests have been dropping like flies.  Every morning we’d open emails from tenants who said, “too hot we’re leaving.”   We all just laughed.  High 90s is comfortable to us desert dwellers … hot is anything over 110 degrees.  So we said good-bye to most of our snowbirds this week … many who have been with us for multiple months.

Now it’s Easter weekend and throughout the balance of April we’ll have mostly short rentals … weekends, weekly.   Then after April … might as well roll up the sidewalks.  While the rest of the desert is gearing up for April’s three weekends of music festivals, the two weekends of Coachella and the Stagecoach weekend, Vacation Rentals of the Desert is only focusing on spring break, families and golfers.  Some think we’re crazy … there’s a lot of money in renting out during these big event weekends, but I look at the bigger picture.  With the fest goers it’s not the damage … damage I can deal with.  It’s the disruption in the neighborhoods and the uproar from the local residents.

Between you and me … it drives me nuts.  I’d love to bring in the rental money, but I just can’t do it.  I’ll explain.  Once the party starts … responsibility can quickly fly out the window.  Say I rent a three bedroom home to three couples.  That’s fine, legal and under normal circumstances, probably wouldn’t be a problem.  But now these three couples go to the music fest and party all day, meet other really super people at the fest who don’t have a place to stay.  They invite them to sleep in the living room … plenty of floor space, no problem.  So now the city’s vacation rental ordinance has been violated by over-occupancy.  But here’s the even bigger problem … when they get to the house after midnight, they don’t go to bed.  They’re not done for the night. They all sit outside and have a few beers, hangout by the pool, talk, play some music.  After midnight, in a quiet neighborhood, in April when many people sleep with their windows open … well you can bet the resident next door is going to be disturbed and may even call the police or the vacation rental hotline.  Guess who gets the next call … me.  Then I have to deal with a house full of drunk or high people who may take offence at being scolded … after all “we’re on vacation and we paid top dollar for this rental.”  Now we have drunk or high disgruntled people in a vacation rental property and they start super- gluing the wine glasses to the ceiling, smoking inside the house and of course at least one person gets sick on the carpet … you can image the rest.  AND the neighbors are now never going to say another civil word to the property owner, they are going to bad mouth my company and they’ll show up at every city council meeting, voicing their anger and demanding a ban on short term rentals entirely.  Just because of these three weekends.  Well maybe not just these three weekends but mostly these three weekends.  Heck, even the local news stations and papers add fuel to the fire.  They start warning residents weeks before Coachella and Stagecoach, to protect your properties and get out of dodge to avoid all the mayhem.

Another vacation rental company owner once told me that he has ways of making sure that his tenants behave.  Please explain exactly how that’s done.   Once someone is drunk or stoned … responsibility flies out the window.  I don’t care what kind of assurances or guarantees you get when they call.  Even if they say they are “responsible non-partying professionals” …  during the event, it’s an entirely different story.   Just think of the recent events of the President’s Secret Service and their behavior … and they’re supposed to be the best of the best!

And every year … immediately after the April festivals … the city councils are inundated with unhappy residents and we inevitably are handed down even more and stricter vacation rental ordinance rules which drive the non-disruptive vacation rental business away from the desert.  The people who stay, spend money and eventually buy property and retire.

We handle over eighty vacation rental condominiums in Rancho Las Palmas Country Club, about 10% of the entire community.  If all these properties were rented for the fests you can be sure the residents would vote against short term vacation rentals within the year.  In the long run, my company and the owners have a lot more to lose than three weekends of rent and the possibility of property damage, fines, etc.

So … we don’t do Coachella Fest or Stagecoach.  We don’t do these events because we value and respect our owner’s properties and the communities.  I wish it was different, but sometime the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze.

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Maturity Arrives at Age 30!

shutterstock_213925810The balance of vacation rentals, residents and city oversight has recently been a hot topic. This battle is now in my own front yard.  The way I look at it … the new Rancho Mirage ordinance requiring a responsible individual of at least 30 years old, sign for the property and be present throughout the rental period, has put my company and every Rancho Mirage vacation rental owner who takes short term renters, in the position of deciding between three bad choices; break an age discrimination law, break the city ordinance or stop taking short term rentals entirely.

Here is a scary scenario:  A 29 year old attorney, golf pro, fireman, or any responsible, professional individual who is aware of their legal rights, is turned down by a vacation rental owner because of age.  How much does a discrimination law suit cost the owner?  Will the city step in and take responsibility?

 

The following article written by Xochitl Peña, appeared in the Desert Sun newspaper and on the Desert Sun website, November 21, 2014.

Judge dismisses Rancho Mirage vacation rental lawsuit

A Riverside County Superior Court judge has dismissed a civil rights lawsuit that challenged Rancho Mirage’s vacation rental ordinance requiring at least one person in the home be 30 years old.

The battle might not be over though: The attorney for Brian C. Harrison, the owner of a Rancho Mirage vacation rental who filed the Sept. 2 lawsuit, said the case will be appealed.

“It doesn’t make sense if you think about it, that you can outlaw arbitrarily a class of individuals — adult individuals — purely because of their age,” said Ken Gregory, the attorney representing Harrison.

The case was dismissed earlier this week.

City Attorney Steve Quintanilla noted that the judge’s decision came early in the legal process, before a formal hearing that would have allowed both sides to point out their respective arguments on the case.

“The judge essentially agreed with our argument that the complaint lacked any legal merit to warrant a formal hearing,” he said.

Vacation rentals have increasingly been a hot topic across the Coachella Valley this year, with Palm Springs, Indian Wells and Rancho Mirage all hashing out new ordinances that strive to balance a homeowner’s right to rent while appeasing neighbors who complain about party homes.

In Rancho Mirage, the council members on July 31 approved changes to the city’s short-term rental ordinance that require any group of vacationers include a “responsible person” who is at least 30 years old.

The person is responsible for ensuring everyone in the house follows the law. The minimum age for that requirement was previously 21 years old.

Quintanilla said the ordinance does not require all occupants be older than 30 years. It just means one person is in charge, and subject to fines if laws are broken.

The ordinance also requires that the “responsible person” execute a “formal acknowledgment” that shows they are in charge and are held liable for the rental.

In his lawsuit, Harrison argued argued that the “formal acknowledgment” is essentially a contract.

Gregory, his attorney, said the lawsuit was about more than “age discrimination.” He said it also focuses on conflicting laws a homeowner would face enforcing the city ordinance.

In order to adhere to the city ordinance, Gregory argued that homeowners would in essence be breaking state civil rights law, as the Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits a business from discrimination in the rental of a home based on age.

“So they are either violating the act or the ordinance,” Gregory told The Desert Sun.

According to the lawsuit, Harrison said he would face a financial loss of $20,000 a year in rental income because of the restriction.

“I would suffer irreparable injury as I rely on the income from the short-term vacation rental … to pay my mortgage on the property,” Harrison said in the court document.

Quintanilla said the court dismissed the challenge “on grounds that the (Unruh) act does not apply to a city when a city is acting in its legislative capacity,” such as establishing policy.

He said the city is ready to fight any appeal.

“I’m confident that, if they do appeal, we will prevail. There was no legal merit to the case,” Quintanilla said.

In Palm Springs, council in February approved various changes, including increasing the minimum age to rent a home from 18 years to 25 years, after residents there began to complain about loud and disruptive rental homes.

In Indian Wells, council members are looking to give police more enforcement tools and invoke stiffer fines after residents began complaining about party homes. Residents there have threatened to sue the city if vacation rentals of less than 30 days are allowed.

Vacation rentals boost Coachella Valley economy by $7M

 

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Photo: Jay Calderon/Desert Sun

This week I’m sharing an “enlightening” article that appeared in our local newspaper, The Desert Sun, on November 2, 2014.  I think it will be of interest to most of my readers … but primarily all Coachella Valley vacation rental owners.  If you were to do a web search of almost any resort city in the U.S., you’d most likely find similar articles.  As vacation rentals grow in popularity, so grows the challenges faced by vacation rental owners and their management companies.  As the owner of Vacation Rentals of the Desert, with properties throughout the Coachella Valley cities, I actively work with the city officials to ensure that the properties we manage are in complete compliance with the various city ordinances.  We promote “good neighbor” policies and keep our owners and rental guests informed of all rules and regulations.  Vacation rentals are a very Hot Topic these days and all vacation rental owners should keep informed of the ever-changing conversation and become involved with their “business asset.” 

Xochitl Peña, The Desert Sun11:13 p.m. PST November 2, 2014

Why stay in a hotel room when you can have an entire house?

That line of thinking has helped grow the vacation rental scene in the Coachella Valley into a money maker, generating close to $7 million in bed tax revenue for valley cities and about $216 million in “direct spending” in 2013.

Premiere events — Modernism Week in Palm Springs, the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, and the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals in Indio – all continue to attract an increasing number of people each year who choose to stay in homes.

Records requested by the Desert Sun showed valley cities last fiscal year brought in $6.8 million in vacation rental transient occupancy tax, up from $5.1 million the year before, which helps boost budgets and provide for city services. Coachella and Desert Hot Springs are the only cities that do not collect the bed tax on rentals.        Read full article ….

 

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One Bad Apple!

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“Whenever you go on a trip to visit foreign lands or distant places, remember that they are all someone’s home and backyard.” 

 

 

This simple statement written by Vera Nazarian, in “The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration,” immediately caught my attention and is the inspiration behind this post.  Even though 99% of all vacation rental guests instinctively understand this statement on a basic level, I still feel the need to discuss this subject which I believe is typically the “elephant in the room” when it comes to the vacation rental opposition.

The vacation rental industry, as in any business, has its challenges … mainly people! Guests, owners, neighbors, government.  The same challenges we have in almost every aspect of our lives.  Recent airline headlines argue flyer’s personal space and the use of devices by some to obstruct seats from reclining, elected government representatives are in gridlock and refuse to compromise or even talk to each other, and there is a noted overall decline in customer service in establishments across the US … and the list goes on.  It seems that people these days find it impossible to get along with other people and in the end, everyone loses!

OK … so here’s the deal with vacation rentals!  People … guests, owners, neighbors and government … everyone needs to work together!

 

Guests  

Be Informed & Be a Good Neighbor:  Vacation rental guests, please be aware that your neighbors have a right to “quite enjoyment” which is protected by the law.  You must make yourself aware of the local vacation rental ordinance regulations,  to not only follow these laws but also to avoid costly violation fines.  Not all owners are aware or forthcoming.  You should check the city website and look up “vacation rental ordinance” to see if there are restrictions of which you should be aware.    Example:  The City of Rancho Mirage states in their ordinance that it is strictly prohibited for short term renters to use any kind of musical or sound devise outside the property … period.  This pertains to rentals under 28 days and includes, music, Ipads, You Tube Videos, TV and radio broadcasts outside the home or that could be heard outside the home by leaving the windows or doors open.   If a neighbor reports you … you may be fined.  Vacation Rentals of the Desert informs all of our tenants of the various ordinance rules however I am not at all certain that all private owners make this information known to their guests or are even aware of the regulations themselves.   Pleading ignorance of rules and regulations, whether owner or guest, will not spare you the fine.

Owners 

Know Your City Requirements & Inform Your Guests:  As a vacation rental owner you are managing a business.  You should take responsibility for your business and know the law.  It is up to you to keep yourself updated on the ordinance requirements and good neighbor laws in your vacation property’s community.  You must inform the guest so neither you nor your guest suffers violation fines.  You should also be aware of the “bigger picture.”  Violation of city ordinance rules could result in the city prohibiting your ability to accept short term rentals or ultimately ban short term rentals throughout the city.  Indian Wells, California banned short term rentals of less than seven nights as a result of two incidents over a recent “event” weekend.  Two … just two complaints throughout an entire city caused this strict ban.  Obviously these two incidents were the proverbial “last straw.”  But think about how this could affect your vacation rental business … I do, and I chose to always look at the big picture.

Neighbors 

Do You Ever Get to Pick Your Year-Round Neighbors?   The truth is … I for one would rather have an occasional vacation renter than some of the neighbors I’ve had to live with 365 days a year!  So you have a vacation rental next door and there are kids splashing in the pool and squealing laughter every other weekend for 6 months out of the year.  Could be every day … and with a yappy dog … and skateboards every day along your street … or maybe they aren’t very attentive to their yard.   What is your recourse then?  Would you prefer a vacant home?  Maybe throw in the occasional vagrant?   How’s that yard look?  You must remember … they were all over your neighborhood in 2009 and 2010.  I have a next door neighbor who lives on his back patio.  He’s boisterous, loud, crude and has a large following of visitors just like him.  I can’t go out on my back patio and read a book … not that I want to in 110 degree heat … just sayin’.

Government 

Do You Really Think Another Regulation Will Solve the Problem?  Cities are at risk of driving away tourists and their income as well as potential buyers.  Throughout the United States, the recent recovery of the housing industry has been largely driven by the growth in vacation rentals and the draw of rental property investments.   Without these buyers, many resort cities would still be in crisis and many neighborhoods would be peppered with vacant and abandoned homes.  Vacation rental guests are traditionally the future buyers of second homes in resort areas.  Vacation rentals allow families to test an area before buying.  For many, the ability to offset some of the overhead expenses through vacation rentals will make purchasing a second home affordable.  Home purchases, contracting companies, dining and entertainment business … all of the services used by vacation property owners and renters ultimately benefit cities financially.  The economic impact is substantial … especially in a resort community.  Wouldn’t a more positive and productive approach be to work WITH vacation rental owners and managers?  To enforce their “pro-active” responsibility in managing their vacation home, guests and ordinance violations?   If the guest and/or owners are not informed of the ordinance … how does another regulation eliminate the problem?

Together we can find a way to make this work out for everyone.  Some people will not care … will never care!  Those are the ones that must go!  Working with “good” vacation property owners and managers, enforcing the existing regulations, and working towards shutting down the “bad” vacation properties is the desire of every good owner, vacation rental management company, year-round neighbor and government official.   It is the more difficult thing to do … but it is the RIGHT thing to do.

 

Let’s get rid of the apples that spoil the bunch!

Otherwise … just think of what we may be throwing away!

 

 

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Is Your Vacation Home Emergency Ready?

 

BvzDRp7CEAEP3D0This morning Napa, California was “a rockin’ and a rollin’!”   Many northern Californians were abruptly awakened by a 6.0 earthquake at 3:20 a.m. Sunday morning.  California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency.

This is the height of rental season in the Napa Valley and surrounding areas.  Just think of all the vacationing guests who may have experienced their first earthquake in the wee, dark hours this morning.  I found the kitchen photo in a “Tweet” about today’s earthquake.  I wonder how the rest of this home fared and how the occupants are holding up?  Whether this is their first earthquake experience or not, I am certain they are pretty shaken.  What a mess to have to deal with … and what if this was a vacation rental property?  How would a guest deal with the power outage, in the dark, as they are stumbling through a “broken” home?  Who would deal with the clean-up and security of the vacation property?  The guests?  I doubt it.  Most likely … they’d hit the road before the sun came up!

There are no real ways to fully prepare for unforeseen emergencies.  Earthquakes, severe storms, tornados and power outages often arrive unexpectedly.  However, Vacation Rentals of the Desert recommends a few supplies that will be helpful and appreciated by your guests in the event of an emergency:  A flashlight in each nightstand, a flashlight in a kitchen “junk” drawer along with replacement batteries, a fire extinguisher, emergency candles, matches and perhaps a couple of gallon jugs of water in the pantry or garage.

Keep Safe my friends.

“Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.” ― Gen. George S. Patton

 

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HGTV … Thank You for Spreading the Word!

 

hertz_Garell_Outside_lgBoy do I have the PERFECT Sunday afternoon planned out for you!  I have mentioned many times over the past several months that vacation rentals have grown in exposure and popularity in recent years.  Much of the national exposure has been due to HGTV.  I am a huge fan of “House and Garden TV” and enjoy most of their programs.  House Hunters, House Hunters International, House Hunters on Vacation, Love It or List It, Property Brothers … all have provided great decorating tips which I have used in sprucing up and staging many of the properties I manage at Vacation Rentals of the Desert.

I not only recommend HGTV programs to vacation rental owners, but I believe any home owner will benefit from their decorating, renovation and maintenance tips … besides they are just down-right fun to watch!  If you are “toying” with the idea of purchasing a vacation rental home or listing your second home as a vacation rental property, then the below videos are a MUST SEE!  These short videos give great insight into the value of a vacation rental and its potential income, what guests are looking for in a rental home and some really great advice on amenities.  They allow us to step into the shoes of vacation rental owners as well as vacationing guests.

Once you’re on the HGTV website take a look around … there is so much of interest.  I know … I just spent most of the morning jumping from video to video! 

Now … grab your iced tea, a bowl of popcorn and get ready for some fun!

 

This year-round rental house in LA was converted to a successful vacation rental property.

http://www.hgtv.com/video/converting-to-vacation-rental-video/index.html

 

In this short clip the host compares three vacation rental homes in Key West, Florida and tells viewers which will be more successful and why.

http://www.hgtv.com/video/key-west-vacation-rentals-video/index.html

 

This is a cool new show … Vacation House for Free.  Watch short clips on purchasing a vacation rental home that will carry itself.  Note:  There are several clips back to back with short commercials between.  Keep the video player running.

http://www.hgtv.com/vacation-house-for-free/show/index.html

 

One of my favorite shows … House Hunters On Vacation!  Watch short clips or full episodes.  The HGTV host shows lucky guests three vacation homes and treats them  to a one week vacation at the home of their choice.  Step into the shoes of three separate families as they choose a vacation home in Maui, St. Thomas and the California Wine Country;  join two couples as they choose a perfect vacation home in Sante Fe and a very lucky couple from California that decide on a dream honeymoon location in London.  Note:  The video that comes up will feature Maui.  You will need to click on the individual episodes listed below the video screen to view all of the short clips.  You also have the option to choose the entire episode.

http://www.hgtv.com/house-hunters-on-vacation/show/index.html

 

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New Rancho Mirage Vacation Rental Ordinance

RM ConflictThis week the city of Rancho Mirage approved and passed a new, stricter vacation rental ordinance.  I am still trying to digest the changes and work on the implementation and enforcement of the new restrictions within my business.  Today I am not ready to step up on my soapbox … publically.  I am still collecting information and trying to look at the bigger picture and potential ramifications we could suffer if I were to overreact.  Since I have over one hundred Rancho Mirage vacation rental owners that I work with, and many of these owners have contacted me to ask what our input to the city was, I have decided to posted the argument I made this past Thursday, July 31st at the city council meeting.  I was joined by several property owners and residents who manage their own vacation rental properties in the city of Rancho Mirage.  Our voices were listened to but unfortunately not heard.  If you are interested in viewing the entire city council meeting, below I have attached the link to the city website and July 31st city council meeting.  The entire meeting is almost four hours in length.  To skip to the reading of the proposed vacation rental ordinance and the arguments made by residents and owners you can fast forward one hour and 05 minutes … 1.05 on the viewer bar at the bottom of the video.  The new ordinance goes into effect August 30, 2014.

Rancho Mirage City Council Meeting, July 31, 2014

Click on the following link and scroll down to the video.

http://www.ranchomirageca.gov/city-council/city-council-agendas-minutes-video/

 

Desert Sun article “Rancho Mirage vacation rental age restriction set at 30” published August 1, 2014

http://www.desertsun.com/story/news/local/2014/07/31/rancho-mirage-vacation-rental-age/13438899/

 

Following is the argument I presented at the city council meeting.

My name is Vickie Murguia and I’m the owner of Vacation Rentals of the Desert.  I manage approximately 100 vacation rental properties in the City of Rancho Mirage.  I am here to represent those property owners who cannot attend city council meetings to make their arguments in favor of vacation rentals.  There seems to be just a handful of residents that have made repeated complaints against vacation rentals.  I am here to represent the silent majority.  This includes the 100 home owners that I work with and all their renters that visit the desert and are excellent neighbors.  The silent majority also includes all the businesses that benefit from these owners and renters such as contractors and remodeling companies that new buyers hire to update and turn around vacant and neglected properties, the cleaners, the repair services and various vendors that support vacation rentals.  This also includes real estate agents that are seeking out investors and using the idea of vacation rental potential in their sales pitch.  These agents cannot voice their opinions because they work with people that are on both sides of the issue.  There are also the restaurants, theaters, stores, golf courses and all the activities where travelers spend their money in Rancho Mirage.  Just imagine the silent majority were here today … they would overflow this room.  Our desert is in the resort business.  Most of us were not born and raised in the desert.  We visited, fell in love with the desert and eventually moved here.

I do not agree with the proposed changes to the ordinance regarding minimum age and outdoor sounds.  I believe they have the potential to chase away visitors, property buyers and ultimately much needed revenue to the city of Rancho Mirage.  After all, revenues from TOT were the reason for the ordinance in the first place.  Chasing away short term rentals will lose Rancho Mirage hundreds of thousands in TOT as well as sales tax.

In the 3 years since activating the Hot Line … I have only received 3 calls from all cities combined.  My company receives a weekly report from the city of Palm Springs on Hot Line calls.  I propose that the city of Rancho Mirage also share this information with managers and owners.  This way we can better monitor any violations and identify residents that repeatedly call the Hot Line.  I believe the current ordinance is sufficient but could be better enforced by owners and vacation rental managers and that stricter laws are over-reaching and are just going to be more difficult to enforce and will chase away the visitors that are the life blood of our community and does not address the underlying issues which could probably be address by managers or owners screening their renters and educating their tenants on the current rules and regulations and informing them of the ramifications of non-compliance.

Whatever is decided, Vacation Rentals of the Desert will always keep in full compliance with the law and will continue to strive to be good neighbors.

NOTE:  This is a hot topic.  Anyone care to discuss?

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