There’s no doubt that there are few issues as divisive in our currently local political landscape than the issue of vacation rentals.  With a few very vocal people adamantly against vacation rentals, the arguments in favor of vacation rentals often get drowned out. So in case you’ve had trouble remembering them, here are the 9 biggest reasons everyone should support vacation rentals remaining legal: 

  1. Not everyone wants to stay in a hotel. They’re expensive and don’t offer the amenities you get in a short term rental like common living areas, laundry, a kitchen, etc. This makes it easier for a family or group to travel.
  2. Not everybody wants to stay in tourist districts. I own a vacation rental and people stay there to be near family or a local business or because they just don’t want to be in a super touristy area.
  3. Many people are concerned with property rights. What is the fundamental difference between renting to someone for 29 days versus 30 days? Why should that renter have any less right to a place to stay or a property owner have any right to rent out a place? What is it about that one day difference that should change people’s rights? Short term renting isn’t a commercial use, it’s still fundamentally a residential use of the property because someone is residing there.
  4. In many, if not most places short term renting has been legal and people like me have been renting out their places. In fact, in my case I’ve been paying short term rental taxes to the city for years. Should it be legal for them to suddenly change the legal use of a piece of property I bought and have been legally using in a certain way and have come to rely upon? What if the city changed the land use rules for your house to ban any residential use and only allow landfills? In that case wouldn’t you be entitled to remuneration under the takings clause of the constitution?
  5. Many people point to rising housing prices as a reason to ban or restrict (to the point of a de facto ban) short term rentals. However the data hasn’t been able to point to any real meaningful causation between an increase in short term rentals and housing prices. In the studies where a correlation has been found its extremely small and wouldn’t make any significant difference to anyone were it actually causation. In markets where short term renting has been significantly curtailed or even banned, home prices have continued to increase and even accelerated; see San Francisco and New York City. Some have even argued that if you did ban short term rentals that stock that did become short term rentals would just instead become hotels to meet demand so there would be a zero sum impact on overall housing stock. I will say that where I live, San Diego, there is an affordable housing crisis, but there has been for over a decade and it has nothing to do with short term rentals. It has to do with massive underdevelopment due to bureaucratic hurdles and NIMBYs that keep development cost prohibitive.
  6. In many places the space used for short term rentals wouldn’t be put back on the market anyway. In the San Diego beach communities short term rentals are often second homes which people would have anyway and they just want to use the extra availability when they themselves aren’t occupying it to help cover the mortgage. It also encourages efficient use of space as people fill gaps in a property’s use between themselves and others.
  7. Short term rental landlords keep the space up better than long term landlords. They have to because short term renters demand it and the platforms like AirBnb have families the system to incentivize it. Believe it or not the people who live next to my vacation rental have been trying to get us to buy other homes on the block and turn them into vacation rentals because we have been keeping our 110 year old house in better shape than the previous owner and any other home in the neighborhood.
  8. Parking is actually easier in the neighborhood. Visitors tend to try and avoid cars and if they do get a car an entire group will only have 1 or as few as they can get away with. So there’s more parking.
  9. It makes places easier for people with less means to visit. Hotels are expensive to stay in and short term rentals provide cost efficient ways for people to visit places they might otherwise not be able to visit.