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VRLTA Scores Major Victory to Regulate Airbnb

Wednesday, March 2, 2016  
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VRLTA’s Efforts Result in Accountable and Enforceable Tax Regulation

Richmond, Va.March 2, 2016 – The Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association (VRLTA), the leading association for Virginia’s lodging industry, scores a significant victory today with the Virginia Senate’s passage of the SB 416 House Substitute. The Limited Residential Lodging Act was amended by the House Committee on Appropriations to include three highly important changes recommended and lobbied for by the Association, along with the Virginia Municipal League and Virginia Association of Counties.

“We are happy that the House Committee on Appropriations heard the concerns of the lodging industry and Virginia’s local governments,” said Eric Terry, president of VRLTA. “Without the support of the Committee, Virginia’s 2016 General Assembly would have enacted legislation that lacked accountability and enforcement.”

The House Substitute, passed by the House on March 2, included language requiring online hosting platforms to register with the Virginia Department of Taxation, allows local governments to create a registry of these rental properties to ensure basic public safety protections, and removes the veil of secrecy originally sought by Airbnb around the legally-required tax payments by these properties.

“We applaud the Virginia General Assembly for listening to the voice of local Virginia businesses and communities throughout the state,” said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “This bellwether vote highlights the fact that this complicated issue deserves thoughtful consideration to ensure the safety and security of the traveling public. We look forward being an active participant in the upcoming process, ensuring a transparent data-driven discussion in the coming months.”

VRLTA is thankful for the support of our champions in the House and Senate and to the coalition of industry partners (AH&LA, AAHOA, Hilton, Marriott, Bed & Breakfast Association of Virginia, Virginia Municipal League, Virginia Association of Counties) and countless local government entities (Williamsburg, Roanoke, Fairfax, Loudoun, and more) that helped to push this legislation to a study and increased accountability. Also, thank you to VRLTA members for their continued efforts to contact and educate our legislators about this complex issue.

The Substitute Bill will now be given to Governor Terry McAuliffe for a final signature and enactment. Airbnb and the short-term online rental market will undergo an in-depth study by the Virginia Housing Commission, under the advisement of a panel of lodging, short-term online rental companies and their users, and others, to be completed by December 1, 2016. The study will be reviewed by the General Assembly, and the bill will be reviewed and reenacted during the 2017 General Assembly Session.

About Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association (VRLTA)
The Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association is the only unified voice for the restaurant, lodging, travel and hospitality suppliers associations. VRLTA creates value for members by promoting the legislative interests of the industry, networking, educational opportunities, and protecting free enterprise. Inquiries about membership and VRLTA services should be directed to VRLTA at (804) 288-3065 or VRLTA.org.

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