MN Hospitality Advocate

Vacation Home Rentals May See Solution

Posted in Lodging Issues, Resort Issues, State Laws, State Rules, Tourism Issues, Vacation Home Rentals by hospitalityminnesota on February 13, 2010

Over the past several years, the practice of renting out ones cabin to bring in revenue and offset property taxes and general maintenance expenses has become common. We call this vacation home rentals. In addition, websites have sprung up in significant numbers making it very easy for vacation homeowners to rent out their units (and many vacation homeowners have built their own sites.

For a good example, check out www.vrbo.com (vacation rental by owner). So why does our industry care? Because these vacation homes are now in the marketplace competing against private resorts and lodging properties, yet they do not have to meet the same regulatory requirements. They often do not collect sales tax, lodging tax, get inspected by the Department of  Health or meet DNR Shoreland Management standards.

The Minnesota Department of Health has the authority under current statute to inspect these properties, but has only recently begun to do so. In part it’s a manpower issue – they simply don’t have enough folks to chase down every private homeowner.  And in part, it’s because the problem has only become evident as the Internet has grown and the cost of entry into the marketplace has declined.

The Minnesota Resort and Campground Association and Minnesota Lodging Association care a great deal about this issue. Level playing field and public safety are key elements of the discussion. The Department of Health is preparing to move forward with some technical corrections to existing statute that will clarify their existing authority to inspect. It’s a great first step in ensuring that Minnesota’s vacationers are in safe facilities.

We’ll keep you posted as the initiative progresses.

David Siegel, CAE, IOM
Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations and Hospitality Minnesota

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Meetings with Key Legislators

Posted in General Advocacy, Resort Issues, Restaurant Issues, State Laws, Tourism Issues by hospitalityminnesota on February 11, 2010

As part of our 2010 Legislative Agenda, we felt it was important to meet with key legislators to share our issues and provide background and explanation. We met with House Commerce Chairman Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) and talked about a wide range of issues, including beverage taxes, alcohol taxes, ignition interlocks, Labor Day School, video games of chance and more. We also had the opportunity to share time with the Chairman on the issue of Online Travel Companies and the possible taxation of their service charges for hotels.

We met with Senate Tax Committee Chairman Tom Bakk (DFL-Virginia) on many of the same issues. We visited with Rep. John Ward (DFL-Brainerd) on several key tourism issues, including Labor Day School, protection of local option Lodging Taxes, additional hospitality taxes and vacation home rentals.

In all cases, we are able to effectively share our concerns. With the session just under way, now is the perfect time to contact your legislators and share with them your issues. We have all of our issue briefs on our web site at http://www.hospitalitymn.org. Check those out and act today to reach your legislators.

Also, please prepare now to attend Hospitality and Tourism Day at the Capitol on March 18 at the Best Western Kelly Inn. This event is extremely important in showcasing the power of our industry.

David Siegel, CAE, IOM
Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations