Short-term rentals are an opportunity Missouri can’t afford to miss

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Whether it’s the cars in their garages or the rooms in their homes, Americans are realizing they’re leaving money on the table when their property remains idle. House Bill 608, making its way through the Missouri Legislature, ensures that Missourians are able to take advantage of economic opportunity in the short-term home rental space.

That economic impact of short-term rentals is significant, as one study after another confirms there is growing demand. The National University Institute for Policy Research found that short-term rentals generated a total economic impact of $285 million in San Diego from 2014 to 2015. A study commissioned by Homeaway earlier this year found the economic impact of short-term rentals in Nashville was $477.2 million.

While H.B. 608 isn’t perfect, reasonable statewide standards for short-term rentals make a lot of sense. If Missouri’s legislators want the “gold standard” of short-term-rental laws, Arizona is a good place to start. The Grand Canyon State collects a number of lodging-related taxes on short-term rentals, but prevents cities, towns and counties from restricting short-term rentals simply because the property in use isn’t classified as a hotel.

One of H.B. 608’s more significant departures from the Arizona model is a provision that allows “any county, city, town, village, township, fire district, 10 sewer district, or water district” essentially to ban short-term rentals before April 1, 2018. The bill’s new statewide provisions won’t affect those “political subdivisions” that act before the grandfather date. This might create an incentive for local governments to race to restrict short-term rentals, simply to retain the option to do so in the future.

Oddly, that’s one of the chief problems that a commonsense short-term-rental law should correct. Missourians across the state should have the same basic opportunity to generate additional income with their properties, not a patchwork of local ordinances that grant opportunity to some and remove it from others.

I’ve seen firsthand how short-term rentals benefit the little guy. On a trip to Charleston last year, I crossed paths with an Uber driver who used the income from short-term rentals in his basement to purchase his car. That’s not some corporation horning in on a neighborhood; it’s the American dream of being able to work hard and succeed, using every tool at your disposal.

Having a transparent and predictable legal foundation for short-term rentals at the state level probably means H.B. 608 is worth supporting, even with the grandfathering provisions. But the Missouri Legislature would make a better choice by ensuring the economic opportunity of short-term rentals is open to all its citizens.


Image by f11photo

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