Amanda Staudt 0

Short-Term Rentals: Let Local Communities Decide

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During the 2016 Virginia legislative session, both the Senate and the House of Delegates passed the “Limited Residential Lodging Act” (SB 416), which establishes a mechanism to collect tax revenue from short-term rentals and prohibits local municipalities from setting limitations on these businesses that make sense for their communities. After complaints from some communities, the Virginia Housing Commission has established a Working Group to examine the issue further. The Working Group is expected to issue its report in December 2016.

The signers of this petition ask that the Virginia legislature amend the Bill to ensure that local communities have the ability to determine the short-term rental policies that best meet their needs. The Commonwealth is not one-size-fits-all and it makes no sense to apply a blanket policy for all communities.

We are particularly concerned about the potential proliferation of short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods, including the increasing occurrence of homeowners renting out individual rooms on a nightly basis. The short-term, transient nature of this hotel-like business in a residential area decreases safety and frays the fabric of our communities. Advertising short-term stays in family-friendly neighborhoods is an invitation to abuse. Many communities have already seen these consequences.

We are also concerned with the potential impact on property values. SB 416 may be a short-term revenue win, but it risks eroding the long-term tax basis. Expanding short-term rentals will ultimately decrease property values in strongly residential neighborhoods, and correspondingly decrease tax revenue. This effect might not be apparent in dense urban areas or vacation destinations, but will become an issue in traditional residential housing. Neighborhoods supporting short-term rental properties will not attract buyers willing to pay a premium for housing in family-friendly environments. Houses in these areas will not retain previous value, and will therefore not support sufficient levels of property tax.

Please amend SB 416 so that it will not stifle the ability of local jurisdictions to set their own policies on short-term rentals to meet their own needs.

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