How to Create a Vacation Rental Alliance and Beat the Bans

HOW TO CREATEI live on a dead end cottage road, with one property beyond me before the road ends. It's a quiet spot and we are rarely disturbed by neighbours. But for the last few nights, the rental crowd in the property next door have partied into the early hours with pounding bass, raucous screaming and shouting.  The temperature has gone down at night, so for the first time in a while we can turn off the AC and open some windows and doors to let the fresh air in, but with the noise continuing well into the night, it was impossible to sleep.

We could ask them to keep the noise down and remind them there are neighbours, but confrontation is not my thing so we'll probably leave it be. It's a one-off for us – it happens rarely and we'll cope until the end of the weekend when the revelry will die down as they head back to the city.

It's interesting to be on this side of the fence and experience what many residents do in much more crowded areas where there is a greater density of vacation rental homes, particularly in residential areas.

tweetHaving problems with #vacationrental bans? Check out this article from @cottageguru about creating a VR alliance

An article in the Bend Bulletin this week highlights many of the issues that are being raised across North America as the vacation rental industry continues to grow.  Bend City Councilor Doug Knight explains his take:

“When I purchase a home in a residential neighborhood, I expect solace and stability,” Knight said. So far, Knight said, he received complaints about problems that range from “loud, raucous parties,” to a “conveyor belt of strangers next door and the perceived inability of people to have communication over the fence, neighbor to neighbor.” In at least one case, a homeowners association has asked residents to vote for changes to property restrictions that would prevent owners from renting out homes for less than a seven-day period. (Bend Bulletin)

While we have seen outright bans on short-term rentals in many locations, some have limits of no less than 30 days of rental; others have restrictions on the amount of vacation rentals allowed in the neighbourhood, or have attempted to rezone properties to commercial status. The success of these measures is not always clear, however it seems the louder the arguments are against the practice of rental, there is an equally vociferous group on the other side.

Where a truce (uneasy or not) has been declared, it is usually because a group of owners and/or property management companies have collaborated to present a common voice.  Responsible ownership is calling the tune as these groups are created to present their reasoned case to lawmakers in their communities.


Enter the Short Term Rental Advocacy Center (STRAC) created by Airbnb, HomeAway, TripAdvisor and FlipKey


“in response to requests from communities who asked for help in engaging with policymakers who are considering how smart regulations can responsibly foster this growing industry.”

So how does this help if you are faced with the prospect of short term rental restrictions in your area?

The answer is to network, organise and communicate with your fellow owners to create this common voice.

In Episode 14 of Vacation Rental Success podcast with Joel Rasmussen, founder of the Austin Rental Alliance, explained why he felt creating an owner group was a valuable force in challenging short-term rental restrictions.  The Alliance was formed in response to the efforts of a small group of not-in-my-back-yard (NIMBY) activists and were successful in fighting the calls for a ban on short term rentals in the city of Austin.  The group then went on to network, support each other and offer referrals as the quality of properties and hospitality levels of the owners was known within the Alliance.

Richard Craft is creating a similar community in Port Aransas with the Vacation Owners Forum, as he uses this medium to gather like-minded and committed owners in an information-based environmnent.

And in Maui, a 10-year collaboration between home owners and property management companies helped guide legislation and resulted in the Maui Vacation Rental Association, the driving force behind “educating Maui County officials to the benefits of the industry and the need for reasonable regulation of it.”

vacation_rental_teamworkWe cannot operate in a vacuum
As the industry continues to grow, public backlash and NIMBY sentiments will expand alongside, so collaboration and networking with other owners is becoming a necessity.  Even if you are the most responsible owner on the block, operating in a vacuum may do you no good in the long run if a strong anti-rental campaign is launched.  Getting together with peers can have a lot of benefits:

A collective voice
There is power in numbers, and representation from a group is often taken far more seriously than an argument from an individual.

Shared resources
Vacation rental owners come to the table with a variety of skills that can be shared to everyone's advantage. Pooling resources such as web design skills, marketing savvy, and lobbying experience can fast-track an owner association to being seen as a formidable opponent.

Wherever like-minded people gather, a community can form.  Sharing ideas, supporting each other, making referrals are all activities that benefit the group as a whole.

A clear way of getting the message across is via a collaborated set of standards that a group agrees upon to support a climate of responsible rental.

Meeting new people
This is where the magic happens as people get together physically as well as online.  Meet-ups in coffee shops and restaurants can lead to great things as ideas are shared, and the common interest draws people together.  If you cannot do that, Google Hangouts, Facebook Groups and forums are a good alternative.


This stuff is not going to go away anytime soon so being proactive and beginning to organise a group may be a good goal for the fall and winter.  Then if the spectre of a ban or restrictions comes to town you'll be ready.

If you already belong to a group and have experiences you could share, we'd love to hear about them.

What benefits have you got from being in an association or alliance?

Are there drawbacks?

Do you have any tips that would help someone else get started in organising a group?


Liz Van Cleave

Hi Heather, We are on the opposite coast from you, but would be very happy to be part of forming a Canadian VRMA.

Heather Bayer

HI Liz – We should talk. Are you going to VRMA in San Diego?

Liz Van Cleave

No, I’m not. Heading to a reunion instead.


Hi Heather – I am in the baby stages of setting up a Nextdoor neighborhood group for a specific neighborhood in Lincoln City, OR. It is challenging because many of the homeowners are not in residence, so validating ownership is tricky. It’s a closed group to only people who own property within certain boundaries, and each person must be validated for security reasons. When we get to 50 neighbors/members, I am going to organize a subgroup for vacation rental owners and managers. It’s slow going, but we are now at 45! If you want more info on the national nexdoor program, go to

Doug Coates We have had some success in fighting regulation, and are collaborating with others to put together a national database and other resources to help people faced with regulations issues. – Doug Coates

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