Andrew J. Tarantino: Another view on short-term rentals
I read the commentary by Tom Checchia, the owner of the Landgrove Inn, in the March 29 Manchester Journal and wanted to present an alternate opinion.
I own and operate www.vermontvacation-rentals.com. I pay rooms taxes, property taxes and income tax, right here in Vermont.
There are many homeowners who live and work, in Vermont, and rent homes, for vacation rentals. This has been going on for about 80 years or longer, far longer than Airbnb, or the internet has been around.
There are also many second homeowners, who rent their homes, that much is true. However, they are also required to pay rooms tax and property taxes. And as second homeowners, the state of Vermont taxes them the nonresident rate.
The visitors who stay in these homes usually stay longer than one night. When they stay, they shop the local stores, eat at the restaurants, shop the local stores and sometimes they buy homes or businesses and pour more tax dollars into the communities they stay in, helping the local economies.
Not all inns and motels are all owned locally. Large, out-of-state chains, like the Hampton Inn, are large corporations from out of state, that have hotels in Vermont and have lobbyists in Montpelier.
Most homeowners, like me, are very concerned about who stays in their homes as these homes are a significant investment for them.
However, it is the large online booking sites, Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway and Trip Advisor that do not vet the guests or the homeowners. These sites also charge the traveling public 6% to 18%.
The state of Vermont would better serve the traveling public if they regulated how much was charged the visitors to our state so they are not assessed of 6% to 18% before they even get to Vermont.
These online sites are now trying to hide these fees in the rental amount so the homeowners will have to pay rooms tax and income tax on the millions of dollars they charge. The state of Vermont should make them pay income tax on the millions they collect from our visitors.
To say that hotels and inns monitor or supervise their guest more than the private homeowner is just absurd.
The truth is that these vacation rental homes bring in many tax dollars in the form of rooms and property taxes as well as income tax. I for one designed my homes to be handicap accessible with an access ramp and zero threshold tile shower, so even someone in a wheelchair may come to visit and stay in our state. I also donate my homes to local instate nonprofits to help them raise money.
My guests are not at risk as my homes are cleaned and maintained far better than any hotel. My housekeeper lives and works in Vermont and spends eight to 10 hours cleaning in between guests. My homes are outside of town with privacy and views so that families can travel together, stay together and enjoy meals together. Some dine in the local restaurants or get take out.
Property owners should step up their efforts in advertising or pricing. I know when I travel I look for cleanliness, comfort and amenities.
Many hotels and inns do not accept pets while I accept dogs under 4O pounds. I also offer a 20% discount to military, police, firemen and first responders. The traveling public and state of Vermont need to be made aware that online booking sites are hitting the traveling public hard. They need to be reigned in. That's like asking the wolf to guard the sheep.
Last I checked, we are still part of America where lodging is offered in a wide range of options from campgrounds to luxury hotels, from a cabin in the woods to a mansion on the hill, including the local inn, B&B, motel or large hotel chains. They all contribute to the Vermont economy and should be welcomed and treated like any other option.
Come to Vermont and enjoy all we have to offer.
Why stay in a room when you can stay in a home.
Andrew J Tarantino lives in Manchester Center.
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