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One Virginia Airbnb Regulation Bill Hits Senate Floor

One Virginia Airbnb Regulation Bill Hits Senate Floor

Regulate all the things!

As if we needed more proof that we do not fully own our homes or property! Virginia faced three bills to regulate Airbnb type rentals, but only one made it to the Senate floor. Yes, the Virginian government wants to regulate how YOU rent out YOUR property to someone because it’s totally their business.

The bill from Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-james City County) made it to the floor:

“The shared economy presents a 21st century challenge to the General Assembly,” Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City County, said . “Who would’ve thought it would be like this five years ago?”

From The Virginian-Pilot:

Norment’s bill, SB1578, was sent to the full Senate on a 9-2 vote over two other bills, including one brought by Airbnb and one that would’ve thrown a $10,000 fine against homeowners who were renting illegally.

Norment’s bill would allow cities to charge a fee to get on the registry. It also would allow cities to charge up to $500 if a host who did not register is caught renting.

It still would let localities decide whether or not to allow short-term rentals in their communities.

Renting illegally? It’s MY house! But I digress. Norment’s bill also requires that the homeowner “obtain a Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control license if they want to serve alcohol to guests.”

Thankfully, the bill that would fine homeowners $10,000 for renting illegally didn’t receive enough votes to get to the floor. But still.

Of course, Airbnb hosts do not agree with this law, including this one who didn’t want WTKR to reveal her identity:

“We just want the opportunity to thrive and be economically successful. I don’t think we’re providing competition to the hotels as they perceive us. The people who come stay with us are looking for a completely different experience.”

“If you have someone who just wants to rent out a bedroom in their home I just don’t feel it’s necessary to have them register and report all that,” said the host.

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Comments

This article is a little silly. Of course the State wants to regulate your business. It is what they do. They tell people how to live.

    Tom Servo in reply to MattMusson. | February 7, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    This is all about hotel owners, combined with hotel employee unions who together can direct massive political contributions to those who will be willing to vote the way they want. The one thing that both of those groups can agree on is that they are terrified of any competition which might drive their prices down, so they will both be willing to pay any amount of money to get Big Brother to swat down that pesky competition for them.

    Often people on the left will complain about capitalism as a system – but moves like this are the most ANTI-capitalist kinds of laws that can be made, and represent what I guess can be called crony-capitalism at its worst. Those who can band together and buy the legislature use their power to ensure that no one can ever take their profit centers away from them, no matter how much it hurts average people.

    And THIS kind of thing, right here, is my greatest complaint about today’s media. What’s going on here, the reason for the push for this law, is obvious to EVERYONE and yet not a single media outlet, left or right or whatever, will accurately report on the kind of chicanery that is going on right in front of their noses.

      Mac45 in reply to Tom Servo. | February 7, 2017 at 4:38 pm

      So, to make the playing field equal, you are suggesting that all the regulation of hotels, motels, inns and other commercial lodging businesses be repealed?

        Tom Servo in reply to Mac45. | February 7, 2017 at 4:49 pm

        see below – there is a huge difference between high volume rentals in high occupancy structures, all of which are corporate owned, and low volume boutique style rentals in single occupancy structures, the vast majority of which are privately owned.

        To regulate in those circumstance is in fact hugely discriminatory against the low volume, low occupancy unit, because all of the cost of regulation has to be born by that single use, rather than averaged over many thousands of rentals per year in the case of a 500 unit hotel. The cost of regulation is so high in the case of the boutique rental as to drive them out of business entirely, which is of course the real point.

          Mac45 in reply to Tom Servo. | February 7, 2017 at 5:53 pm

          Well, I believe that the regulations on the operation of an AirBnB property, in Virginia, would not be as stringent as those on a large commercial enterprise. Just as they are not as onerous on a small, 10 unit mom and pop motel as they are on a 500 unit hotel.

          But, if you are arguing that the people should be exempted from the regulations which govern a particular type of business operation because the business is operated out of a pva home and, possibly, infrequently, then in a spirit of equal competition, you should remove the regulations on ALL of the participants in that type of business operation. What is good for the goose, is good for the gander. It is the American way.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to MattMusson. | February 7, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    “Yes Virginia. There is a psychopath, government Santa”

Geez, they already have the liquor stores.

AirBnB rentals are essentially a business. Hence the name Air B(ed)n B(reakfast). It is nothing more than a short term lodging business and should be regulated just as commercial hotels, motels, inns and Bed and Breakfast operations do. To do otherwise is to discriminate against established businesses which follow the regulatory laws already in place.

    buckeyeminuteman in reply to Mac45. | February 7, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    If I serve food to a friend or relative I am technically taking away from a restaurant’s business. They are following regulations and I am not. Should I not be permitted to feed anybody besides my immediate family?

      This regulations ONLY applies to people who PAY you for their food. So, no one who does not receive compensation from a person for allowing that person to stay in their house is affected by this bill. Only people who derive nicome from doing so are affected. Just like hotels, motels, inns and bed and breakfasts.

    Tom Servo in reply to Mac45. | February 7, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    The catch is that AirBnB doesn’t own these properties; individual home owners own these properties, and they aren’t full time commercial venues, they are just small time low volume rentals. Why should regulation be required for this kind of one off, low volume rental? They are a completely different kind of operation.

    For example – we require locks be changed for every stay when you have a unit with 500 rooms, all constantly changing, and no one able to keep track of who is coming or going. However, it is nonsensical to require a private house to change all of its locks every time someone stays there, because in that case the owner knows exactly who was there and what happened to every key.

    That’s just one example, but for almost every hotel regulation which is required for a 500 unit property with high turnover, it is not hard to demonstrate why those regs are completely unnecessary for a single unit which is at most rented out once or twice a year.

      Mac45 in reply to Tom Servo. | February 7, 2017 at 5:03 pm

      In the first place, there is no guarantee that the unit will only be rented once or twice a year. It is entirely possible that the unit could be offered for short term rental, one month or less, multiple times a year. As to changing the locks, as you note, that requires 500 units, so it would not affect most mom and pop operations, including hotels motels, inns and BNBs at all.

      But, what you have with an AirBnB rental is an owner of a private residence who is using it as a commercial enterprise. In most states many cities and towns have zoning restrictions against such commercial enterprises. Long term residential rentals, where the tenant is assumed to be staying the better part of a year or more, are exempted from a violation of the residential zoning laws. And, finally, most states levy a tourist tax on short term lodging. Most counties in the state of Florida requires that a 4-6% tax on the entire fee for rentals of under 6 months.

      AirBnB is the same as UBER. Both are a scam designed to circumvent the regulations on private corporations involved in public services, such as lodging and transportation, for a fee.

        derf in reply to Mac45. | February 7, 2017 at 6:59 pm

        I rent out a house I own in Arizona. I have to pay taxes and fees for the privilege of renting this house out (and it was the same in Maryland).

        It is absolutely ridiculous that I have to do so. Paying taxes to a locale does not provide any added safety to my tenants. It is a reach into my pocket by the government for no discernible gain for the consumer.

        Uber is the same. I am no more unsafe in an Uber vehicle than in a cab. Both can get in wrecks. I have not seen anything to suggest Uber drivers are more unsafe than these state sanctioned drivers.

        AirBnB is the same. There is no discernible increased safety to the consumer if VA starts taxing AirBnB “landlords”. It is all about the money. And control.

        buckeyeminuteman in reply to Mac45. | February 7, 2017 at 8:51 pm

        Uber isn’t a scam. It’s a genius way to make money using your own car and a phone app. Plus it has caused taxi cabs to lower their rates to stay competitive. Competition and less regulations are always a good thing for the consumer. Unions are the only ones who benefit from monopolies.

    CloseTheFed in reply to Mac45. | February 7, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    To Mac:
    Just more proof we don’t actually believe in freedom in America.

    I believe in real, not fake freedom.

    CTF

      Good. Call your legislator and tell him that you want to give the same consideration to commercial business that you want private persons engaged in the same business to have. A repeal of all taxes and regulations. I’ll agree to that.

    Luapious in reply to Mac45. | February 8, 2017 at 1:35 am

    And shut down every child’s lemonaide stand because they have not paid the $500.00 permit fee.

Sounds like a hotel and motel lobby is earning its pay.

Lobbies are everywhere, and their purposes aren’t always sinister. Industry and trade groups pay lobbyists just to watch the various legislatures just to be sure that nothing stupid happens to them while nobody’s paying attention. They have to, just for their own protection. Then as long as they’re there, it’s no surprise if they sometimes push for a bit more.

A few decades ago I came across an interesting case. The American Motorcycle Foundation employs a lobbyist (part-time; he has other clients as well) just to ensure that legislative and bureaucratic bodies don’t do stupid things to motorcyclists, like require motorcycles to have the same size license plates as cars. Stupid stuff, stuff some possibly well-meaning bureaucrat will just “forget” about when trying to do something basically sensible, like eliminate special sizes of license plates to save production and inventory costs. And if, as long as he’s on the job, the lobbyist pushes for motorcycles to get a bit of special consideration … like, maybe, relaxing the rules about minimum numbers of passengers so motorcyclists can use special commuter lanes … well, who can blame him?

Chipping away at capitalism, it is one this to go after people who house illegal aliens but another to micromanage someone’s home.

buckeyeminuteman | February 7, 2017 at 4:37 pm

I used to think regulations like these were made up because the government wanted in on the income tax. Now, I’m pretty sure it’s all about control. Control over every aspect over your life.

Are the taxi cab lobby next? People pay a fee to an uber driver who uses his/her own person car for a commercial purpose.

    The for hire car industry [taxis and limousines] have been fighting in state legislatures to close the loophole UBER exploits, to the detriment of established businesses.

    Many taxi drivers actually own their own cab. They hire out to a registered taxi company who provides their insurance and meets the regulations established by local and state laws. UBER drivers are no different, except they do not have to abide by local for hire car laws, including carrying insurance, being licensed by the local regulatory agency, etc. And, UBER does not provide any of those services. When you hop into an UBER vehicle, you have no idea who is driving it, what insurance coverage they have or what your fare will be upon arrival.

    And, there is a reason, beyond just revenue collected from the people in these industry involved here. Public safety is also involved.

“…or what your fare will be upon arrival.”

The latest Uber app displays exactly what your fare will be, to the penny, before you ever get in the vehicle. Most taxi drivers do not or cannot provide that information in advance.

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