Rent Responsibly and College of Charleston publish nationwide study

US: Short-term rental advocacy organisation Rent Responsibly and the College of Charleston have released the 2022 State of the STR Community Report.

The report is a “first-of-its-kind” nationwide study exploring the impact of short-term rentals on communities, as well as the perspectives of operators and local government staff on the management and regulation of short-term rentals.

David Krauss, co-founder and CEO of Rent Responsibly, said: “When we realised that local government staff had largely not been asked important questions about their needs, we began collaborating with the College of Charleston on this important study. This research has provided a detailed picture of the short-term rental operator community while simultaneously uncovering opportunities to programmatically improve the ecosystem for all.”

With a better understanding of the challenges that both cities and operators face as identified through the research and opportunities for collaboration between the two, communities will be able to design and create informed solutions that improve the experiences of all stakeholders including city personnel, short-term rental operators and the broader community.

Some key findings:

  • The industry is largely individual homeowners and small businesses. Of owners, 70 per cent owned just one short-term rental, and of property managers, 54 per cent managed just ten or fewer.

  • Many short-term rental owners used their properties flexibly for more than just stays of 30 days or less. Nearly 40 per cent also rented for mid-term stays of 30 days to five months to host non-leisure guests such as travelling nurses, hospital patients, and remote workers.

  • On average, short-term rental owners relied on their rental activity for 38.1 per cent of their income. For those who own and manage short-term rentals, that reliance was even higher at an average 56 per cent of their income.

  • Government staff:

    • want to work with the short-term rental community

    • seek collaboration and compliance

    • need help with enforcement

Rent Responsibly partnered with the Riley Center for Livable Communities at the College of Charleston for the research study. The research was conducted with the financial support of online travel agency Expedia Group, operations platform Futurestay, and other partners.

Philip Minardi, director of public affairs at Expedia Group, said: “Bridging the divides between the vacation rental community and local governments is key to our future as an industry. This report is an important step in that effort, highlighting the common concerns and unique opportunities we have to chart a brighter path forward together.”

Dr Brumby McLeod, a Riley Center Research Fellow, associate professor and chair of the Department of Hospitality & Tourism Management in the School of Business at the College of Charleston, said: “The insights uncovered in this study are promising. For the first time, we’re able to see that there is actually a great correlation between short-term rental operators and their local governments, and where there may still be gaps, they are few and easy to bridge.”

Philip Kennard, co-founder and CEO of Futurestay, said: “The foundation of the short-term rental industry continues to be grounded in the homeowners, independent managers, and entrepreneurs and it is amazing to see the data reaffirm that. We’ll continue to see growth in the industry fuelled by the emergence of more owners realising the opportunity to build a life-changing business starts at home.

“It’s critical that we continue to empower these entrepreneurs to succeed and that the local government works in collaboration with its citizens who are actively investing in their community,” he added.

The research behind the report sought to ask novel questions about short-term rentals to two distinct but interdependent audiences.

The first was local government staff charged with managing the short-term rental programmes in their jurisdictions, interviewed to better understand their unique needs and challenges through questions that had largely not been asked of this audience before.

McLeod and his team conducted qualitative interviews with municipal staff members from local governments and destination marketing organisations across South Carolina, Utah and Colorado. While each focal region represented one of the top tourist destinations in their state, the issues faced in each region were markedly different.

The second audience was short-term rental owners and managers who are required to comply with municipal rental regulations. Nearly 4,600 respondents participated in the study via a detailed survey conducted in November 2021.

Support for the State of the STR Community research has also been provided by: OwnerRez, Autohost, Ascent Payment Solutions, HostGPO, C2G Advisors, Evolve, and Breezeway.

The full report can be downloaded for free at this link.