"The House of Delegates’ passage of a series of amendments to SB 416 (“Airbnb” bill) was a reflection of the increasing realization that this complex issue needs further study. With more and more local governments, businesses, and communities realizing the unintended consequences of the proposed online short-term rental legislation as it had been initially proposed, support for the Virginia Housing Commission to study this entire issue has significantly increased. Today, the House of Delegates heard their concerns. And as a result, passed the newly amended SB 416 that now includes 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 the bill’s proponents around the legally-required tax payments by these properties. Only by taking our time and comprehensively studying this issue and drawing in all stakeholders – from Airbnb and hosts to local governments and the lodging industry – can we fully understand the impact that online short-term rentals legislation will have on communities, localities, and the lodging industry. As a result, we hope we will have a model bill that effectively balances all of these competing interests.
“Competition drives businesses to improve, and that’s why the lodging industry welcomes new technologies like Airbnb. We welcome competition, but fair competition. For example, requiring the collection of appropriate taxes is what makes it a level playing field; letting Airbnb decide whether to collect and remit taxes is not a level playing field. Preemption of local zoning, as was sought in the original bill, also violates many protections people all across the state enjoy to preserve the character of their neighborhoods. These are the kinds of fairness issues still to be worked out in the upcoming study. While we continue to support the legalization of Airbnb and other online rental platforms, we have to get the legislation right the first time. And studying this issue before the 2017 Session gives us the opportunity to do just that.”
Eric Terry, President
Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association