In our January Lowdown, we saw big changes to the vacation rental industry, particularly with several high-profile businesses making a number of layoffs. However, we also saw lots of positive news for hosts, such as the introduction of more technology-based solutions and advances in industry sustainability.
In this article, we’ll look back at February’s key updates that all short-term rental hosts should know, including the big regulation changes introduced in one of the most popular destinations in the United States, Vrbo’s new party prevention tech, and Portugal’s ban on new STR licenses. Let’s dive into it!
Big changes in the Big Apple
New York hosts have been hit with the news that the city is set to remove 10,000 NYC Airbnb listings as it attempts to crack down on illegal short-term rentals. Naturally, this is a cause for concern for those who rely on their vacation rental business but don’t comply with the existing regulations.
Will my vacation rental be affected?
This depends on whether or not your property has already been lawfully registered with the city council. Local Law 18, which was passed by the city council last year, defines a compliant short-term rental as any property that hosts no more than two guests at a time, with the host living in the same unit, and where guests have access to the entire property.
So, if you rent out the whole space to your guests, and you’re not yet registered with the city, you should be prepared to have to make some changes to your business. Otherwise, you could be fined between $1,000 and $5,000.
So, what’s changed?
Well, the new regulations require that all short-term rentals must be registered, and hosts must prove that they live in the rental and that it adheres to safety standards.
Local Law 18 hasn’t actually changed; however, it is being more strictly enforced. The new registration requirements simply uphold the already existing laws.
Isn’t this a good thing?
There are currently 40,000 Airbnb listings based in New York City, with up to 10,000 of those not meeting the city council requirements. Of course, this will affect a number of people’s livelihoods, and guests will have fewer options to choose from.
However, this is seen as a big win for residents, renters, hotels, and hosts who comply with the regulations.
Vrbo launches new technology to prevent illegal parties
Vrbo has announced new technology that will help hosts prevent any unauthorized parties by identifying potentially disruptive bookings.
The new tech uses a “risk score” for each booking, which looks at a number of factors, such as the length of stay, the timing of the booking, the number of guests, the rental’s occupancy, and typical party-related amenities.
Should the risk score be of concern, Vrbo sends the host an email alerting them to the potential of an illegal party, giving them the option to cancel without penalization. In addition, the guests also receive an email that reinforces Vrbo’s stance on unauthorized events.
You’re one in a million!
If you’re an Airbnb Superhost, that is!
On February 16, Airbnb announced it was celebrating having one million Superhosts on its platform. In less than a decade, the world’s largest OTA has been able to recognize one million of its best-rated hosts with the prestigious Superhost tag.
STR industry helping earthquake victims in Turkey (Türkiye) and Syria
After the devastating fallout from the earthquakes that struck on February 6, Missafir, an Istanbul-based startup, has created a platform to connect those affected by the earthquakes to property owners who can provide temporary accommodation.
In addition, Airbnb’s non-profit organization, Airbnb.org, is working with local officials to offer free, temporary housing to survivors and relief workers. Although they are currently not directly connecting people, they do have a donation page, where they will match each donation up to $5 million.
Booking Holdings, who manage Booking.com and Kayak, among others, have donated €250,000 to the UN Refugee Agency [UNHCR], including a commitment to match Booking employee donations.
Portugal bans new licenses for STRs
Over the last few years, Portugal has seen a rise in house prices and rent costs, particularly in Lisbon, where the average rent increased by 37% in 2022. In response to this, Prime Minister Antonio Costa is planning to ban the golden visa scheme—an initiative to attract investment into the country—and refuse licenses to new short-term rentals.
The idea behind these changes is to ensure locals have access to affordable housing, with the government also offering tax incentives to landlords who are willing to convert their vacation rentals into residences for rent.
Airbnb records its first annual profit
Back to some good news as Airbnb announced its first profitable full year, generating $1.9 billion of net income, which is a huge turnaround on its net loss of $352 million for 2021. This is most likely down to increased demand for travel and a strong US dollar.
Last-minute bookings on the rise
Still not booked up for those dates you were banking on? Well, don’t sweat! According to new data by Transparent and GetawayGoGo, 30% of all short-term rental bookings in the U.S. are made within 2 weeks of the arrival date. Moreover, if your rental is based in an urban area, you can expect 91% of all your bookings to be last minute.
TurnoverBnB becomes Turno
Lodgify partner Turno has announced the rebrand while explaining that their “mission is to simplify and automate the time-consuming work of managing turnovers—to solve cleaning. By shortening our own name, we are embracing and living that mission.”
We think it’s a sweeping victory!
And in case you missed it…
What you need to know about short-term rental taxes
Lodgify hosted a highly successful webinar with Justin Stasio, Sr. Onboarding Specialist at Avalara, to discuss what U.S. hosts need to know about short-term rental taxes.
If you have any doubts about your lodging tax compliance, we have the answers for you here.
Until next time!
Well, we’ve already seen the first bumps in the road for short-term rental hosts, but there’s clearly a progressive move toward compliance and fairness, as well as a desire to reward outstanding customer service.
If you have any questions on the topics discussed, please leave us a comment below!
Otherwise, stay tuned for March’s Lodgify Lowdown, where we’ll highlight the latest updates from the vacation rental industry.