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1 NEIGHBORS FOR OVERNIGHT OVERSIGHT ADVOCATE TOOLKIT NEIGHBORS FOR OVERNIGHT OVERSIGHT Protecting Communities. Promoting Safety. Launching Soon

2 CONTENTS INTRODUCTION... 3 ADVOCACY 101 Writing an Effective Letter to a Public Offi cial... 4 Writing an Effective Opinion Editorial... 5 Writing an Effective Letter to the Editor... 6 BACKGROUNDER/TALKING POINTS Backgrounder for Policymakers... 7 Media Talking Points... 9 SIGN UP Coalition Sign Up...11 INFOGRAPHICS Infographic on Consumer Safety Infographic on Communities Infographic on Affordable Housing NEIGHBORS FOR OVERNIGHT OVERSIGHT

3 INTRODUCTION DEAR NEIGHBORHOOD ADVOCATE: Neighbors for Overnight Oversight is a coalition of concerned residents, community leaders, businesses and policymakers committed to protecting neighborhoods nationwide by speaking out for sensible rules and oversight of the short-term online rental market. Short-term online rental companies such as Airbnb, Homeaway, FlipKey, and Roomorama allow homeowners or apartment residents to rent out their properties on a weekly or daily basis. These multi-billion dollar companies often operate without basic safeguards to protect guests, homeowners, and surrounding neighborhoods such as fi re protections, emergency response, and liability insurance, just to name a few. Together, we can ensure regulators and policymakers understand that we need commonsense oversight to make certain these multi-billion dollar companies ensure their hosts compliance with basic safety measures to protect consumers, homeowners, and our communities. To that end, we have compiled our Neighborhood Advocate Toolkit to help you better understand the issue and enable you to speak out to regulatory agencies, policymakers, the media, and the general public about the need to safeguard our homes, businesses, and communities as well as short-term renters and property owners from the effects of this largely unregulated industry. We hope that you will find the content of this Neighborhood Advocate Toolkit useful in understanding the nature of this issue and communicating it to others. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but we are confident that with your support and commitment we can effectively work toward a solution that addresses all of our concerns about the short-term online rental marketplace. PLEASE FIND ENCLOSED: Guidelines on how to submit an effective letter to a public offi cial, opinion editorial and letter to the editor. Two backgrounders on the issue one for communicating with public offi cials and one for communicating with the media or general public. A sign up form that will allow you to receive more information from Neighbors for Overnight Oversight. Three helpful infographics illustrating problems with the short-term online rental marketplace from a variety of perspectives. Three sample letters to a public offi cial, three opinion editorials and four sample letters to the editor you can personalize and submit. Please visit overnightoversight.com for more information or to register with Neighbors for Overnight Oversight. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact We look forward to working with you to keep our neighborhoods safe and secure. Sincerely, Neighbors for Overnight Oversight ADVOCATE TOOLKIT 3

4 ADVOCACY 101 WRITING AN EFFECTIVE LETTER TO A PUBLIC OFFICIAL If you want to make your voice heard on the issue of short-term online rentals, writing a letter to your public offi cials is a great way to personalize the issue while also reaching them in a tried-and-tested way. Simply taking the time and energy to write out your thoughts and send it through the mail lets them know how important this issue is to you. It also puts a face on the issue and allows you to communicate your concerns to your offi cials in a more substantive, personal way. Here are a few tips on writing an effective letter to your public offi cials (see samples attached): TELL THEM WHO YOU ARE. Include your full contact information and state that you are a constituent of the offi cial. Elected offi cials pay more attention to communications they receive from constituents and may disregard those that do not include contact information or do not explicitly state that they are from a constituent. KEEP IT TO ONE PAGE. Public offi cials get thousands of pieces of mail a day. If you write a long letter, it is unlikely to be read in its entirety. Keeping your letter to one page ensures that your message is received. ADDRESS ONLY ONE SUBJECT. When you are writing about short-term online rentals, don t add in thoughts about other issues. Sticking to one subject ensures that it will be seen by the correct staff member and that you ll get a quicker reply. MAKE IT PERSONAL. As always, telling a personal story about how short-term online rentals negatively affect you and your community will help sell your point and make your letter more memorable. Keeping your letter personal is a great way to put a face on the issue. BE POLITE. A letter that is rude or combative won t be persuasive. It s essential to be polite, even if the offi cial you are addressing disagrees with you. SEND IT TODAY. There s no time to waste in sending your letter to your public offi cials. Because of security screenings, it can take a week or more for a letter to reach them. Sending a letter directly to your legislators may seem old-fashioned, but it s still one of the most effective ways to make your voice heard. Get started and send your letter today! 4 NEIGHBORS FOR OVERNIGHT OVERSIGHT

5 ADVOCACY 101 WRITING AN EFFECTIVE OPINION EDITORIAL An opinion editorial is a longer-form opinion piece, featured in your newspaper, written by a member of the public as opposed to one written by the publication s editorial staff. Typically, opinion editorials are solicited from well-known contributors or written by someone with an especially valuable perspective on a particular issue. On the issue of short-term online rentals, your opinion is particularly important. As a member of the community, you can attest to the damage that short-term online rental companies have done and the risks they pose. Here are a few tips on writing an effective opinion editorial (see samples attached): CHECK THE WORD COUNT. Many publications vary in terms of suggested word length for opinion editorials, so be sure to check the opinion section or their website. Most should be between words, but some papers prefer shorter or longer pieces. MAKE IT PERSONAL. A personal story is key to making sure people read and remember your opinion editorial. You need to include relevant stories about short-term online rentals. Give clear examples of how short-term online rentals have negatively affected you or your community. DIRECTLY ADDRESS A PUBLIC OFFICIAL. If you mention a public offi cial in the opinion editorials, it s almost certain that offi cial will read it. Staff pay close attention to what is said in newspapers about their bosses, and they compile clippings of those stories. An opinion editorial directed to that public offi cial will ensure your views are seen by him or her. INCLUDE A CALL TO ACTION. Even though an opinion editorial is directed at a large audience, be specifi c about what you are trying to achieve. Don t rely on readers to infer what you want to happen as a result of your opinion editorial. Specify that you hope that your state and local governments bring much needed oversight to the short-term online rental marketplace. DON T BE CRASS OR RUDE. Stay away from personal attacks or rudeness. Editors don t like these things and, if the opinion editorial is published, they turn off readers. Name-calling and rudeness are a sure way to guarantee that most people will end up disagreeing with you. PROOFREAD YOUR WORK. While newspapers will edit for spelling, punctuation, and grammar, your piece will be more likely to be published if it arrives to them in good condition. With the pressing need to bring sensible rules and oversight to the short-term rental market, there s no better time to pen an opinion editorial than right now. ADVOCATE TOOLKIT 5

6 ADVOCACY 101 WRITING AN EFFECTIVE LETTER TO THE EDITOR Writing a letter to the editor (LTE) is a great way to raise awareness about short-term online rentals in your community. It s also a great way to reach public offi cials, since they keep close track of what is said about them in local papers. If you read an article in your local newspaper that talks about the rise of short-term online rentals, use the opportunity to submit an LTE that same day or week. If you submit a letter, using the sample letters attached, tied to a story that has just appeared, there is a greater likelihood that it will appear in print. One thing to keep in mind make the issue personal. People are confronted with facts and fi gures about numerous issues every day. To ensure the lack of rules and oversight of short-term online rentals sticks in their minds, give them a story about how these short-term online rentals hurt someone in their community. A good story backed up with facts is the most effective tool you have to persuade community leaders to make oversight of this industry a priority. When drafting an LTE in support of sensible rules and oversight of the short-term rental market, there are a few things to keep in mind: KEEP IT SHORT AND SIMPLE. The most effective LTEs get straight to the point and make their case in a short, concise way. Most LTEs should be no more than 250 words, and preferably less than 200. STICK TO ONE POINT. Don t try to fi t in all the reasons short-term online rentals need oversight. Instead, stick to one major point that resonates with you and make that the focus of your LTE. ORGANIZE YOUR THOUGHTS. Your letter should be structured in an organized, thoughtful way. Briefl y introduce the issue, clearly state your position, present your evidence and personal story, and then close with a short restatement of your position or call to action. DIRECTLY ADDRESS A PUBLIC OFFICIAL. If you mention a public offi cial in the LTE, it s almost certain that offi cial will read it. Staff pay close attention to what is said in newspapers about their bosses, and they compile clippings of those stories. A LTE directed to that public offi cial will ensure your views are seen by him or her. DON T BE CRASS OR RUDE. Editors don t take kindly to letters that come across as rude or demeaning. Stick to the issue and your reasons for supporting sensible rules and oversight of short-term online rentals. PROOFREAD YOUR WORK. While newspapers will edit for spelling, punctuation, and grammar, your piece will be more likely to be published if it arrives to them in good condition. Community leaders need to hear from as many people as possible on the negative effects of short-term online rentals, so sending an LTE today is one important way you can make the case for sensible rules and oversight of the short-term online rental market. 6 NEIGHBORS FOR OVERNIGHT OVERSIGHT

7 BACKGROUNDER FOR POLICYMAKERS OVERVIEW Short-term online rental companies skirt sensible laws and regulations that are in place to protect consumers, homeowners and neighborhoods alike. Neighbors for Overnight Oversight is working to educate policymakers and regulators on reasonable changes or modifi cations that could be made to existing laws or implemented independently, because travelers and communities deserve proper safeguards that protect them from the potential dangers and risks posed by the short-term online rental industry. PROTECTING CONSUMERS Currently, there is a lack of basic oversight for the short-term online rental market, which poses a threat to the safety and wellbeing of overnight guests as well as the broader community. Consumers deserve a variety of safety and security features and procedures such as: Smoke detectors, sprinkler systems and fi re extinguishers. Effective door locks that prevent intruders or prior guests from gaining entry. Video surveillance, building access control and safe deposit boxes. Readily available assistance in the event of a medical emergency, fi re or crime. Regular health and safety inspections by state or local agencies. Compliance with accessibility requirements. SAFEGUARDING COMMUNITIES As short-term online rentals become more popular, some developers are now purchasing multiple properties with the sole purpose of renting them out on a short-term basis, creating a revolving door of guests coming in and out, with neighbors constantly unsure of who is staying next door. Basic oversight is needed to avoid negative impacts on local communities, from unwanted parties to decreased home values in the event of property damage not covered by insurance to the illegal conversion of entire buildings into illegal hotels. This could include limitations and requirements such as: Limiting short-term rentals to commercial areas. Capping the number of short-term rentals in a multiunit building. Prohibiting short-term rentals in properties that receive affordable housing funds. Requiring short-term rental providers to carry property and casualty insurance. Requiring registration of short-term online rentals and providing notice to the community when a property is registered. Ensuring that renting out a property on a short-term basis doesn t violate any leases or homeowner association rules. ADVOCATE TOOLKIT 7

8 COMPETING ON A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD Short-term online rental companies should compete on a level playing fi eld and be subject to the same laws and regulations as other businesses competing in the lodging and residential building industries. Just one of these short-term online rental companies is valued at $10 billion. Last year, more than 12 million people booked a stay through a short-term online rental company. There is no reason they can t play by the same rules; it s time for them to behave like responsible businesses by taking actions such as: Collecting and remitting local occupancy and sales taxes. Obtaining proof of proper licensing or certifi cates of occupancy with respect to properties listed on their websites. Ensuring compliance with applicable federal, state, and municipal laws and regulations, including through the posting of those laws and regulations on their websites and statements affi rming that property owners and operators must comply. The principles and provisions discussed above could form the basis of legislation, and Neighbors for Overnight Oversight is able to provide model language as needed. For assistance, please contact 8 NEIGHBORS FOR OVERNIGHT OVERSIGHT

9 MEDIA TALKING POINTS BACKGROUND In recent years, short-term online rental companies have experienced a surge as consumers especially those in larger, urban areas are eager to explore more housing and lodging options when they travel. While the short-term online rental market provides some benefi ts, those benefi ts fade away as they persist in operating outside of local and state regulations, thereby posing signifi cant threats to consumers, neighborhoods, and a fair, free market. CONSUMER SAFETY Currently, there is a lack of basic oversight for the short-term online rental market, which poses a threat to the safety and wellbeing of overnight guests as well as the broader community. Consumers deserve a variety of safety and security features and procedures such as: Smoke detectors, sprinkler systems and fi re extinguishers. Effective door locks that prevent intruders or prior guests from gaining entry. Video surveillance, building access control and safe deposit boxes. Readily available assistance in the event of a medical emergency, fi re or crime. Regular health and safety inspections by state or local agencies. Compliance with accessibility requirements. PROTECTING OUR NEIGHBORHOODS With the abundance of short-term online rental opportunities, some people are purchasing apartments for the sole purpose of renting them out as an illegal hotel. Basic oversight is needed to protect communities from apartments being used as illegal hotels. If the owner of an apartment, house, or condo is renting out their property as a short-term online rental without holding property insurance, then renters can damage the property and cause surrounding home values to drop. When home values drop as a result of damage done to nearby short-term online rental properties, that impacts the quality of life for neighbors, weakens local economic investment, and undermines area schools, thereby hurting entire communities. The nature of short-term online rental properties is unfair to surrounding neighbors who may not be aware that a house on their block or an apartment in their building is essentially operating like a hotel. ADVOCATE TOOLKIT 9

10 FAIR IS FAIR This isn t a small industry that can t afford to collect and remit their taxes. Just one of these short-term online rental companies is valued at $10 billion. There s no reason they can t play by the rules. Last year, more than 12 million people booked a home or a room through a short-term online rental company. It s time for them to operate with proper rules and safety regulations in place. All businesses must follow specifi c rules and regulations and pay local and state taxes in order to protect public health and safety and contribute to the community. Short-term online rental companies should not be exempt from these measures. 10 NEIGHBORS FOR OVERNIGHT OVERSIGHT

11 COALITION SIGN UP FORM STATEMENT FOR PUBLIC SUPPORT Join Neighbors for Overnight Oversight to help us stand up for our homes, communities, neighborhoods, and businesses that are put at risk by the short-term online rental marketplace. These companies often operate without basic safeguards to protect guests, homeowners, and surrounding neighborhoods such as fi re protections, emergency response, and liability insurance, just to name a few. It s time to take a stand! Join together with concerned residents, community leaders, businesses and policymakers committed to protecting communities nationwide by speaking out for sensible rules and oversight of the short-term online rental market. I agree to join Neighbors for Overnight Oversight in its call for sensible rules and oversight for the short-term online rental market. I understand that my name/association will be listed on the Neighbors for Overnight Oversight website and may appear publicly in association with this effort. As part of the Neighbors for Overnight Oversight Coalition, we look forward to having you participate in our efforts and may reach out to ask for your help in contacting your elected offi cials; attending events; drafting and submitting letters to the editor or opinion editorials; etc. SIGNATURE PRINTED NAME AND TITLE BUSINESS, ORGANIZATION, OR ASSOCIATION (IF APPROPRIATE) MOBILE OR BUSINESS NUMBER(S)/FAX NUMBER(S) ADDRESS CITY, STATE, ZIP CODE ADDRESS ADVOCATE TOOLKIT 11

12 COULD YOUR OVERNIGHT STAY BECOME A NIGHTMARE? When you book your stay through a short-term online rental company, you never know what you will or won t get. LEARN MORE: NEIGHBORS FOR OVERNIGHT OVERSIGHT Protecting Communities. Promoting Safety.

13 THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD Ever wonder what would happen to your community when short-term online rentals move in? A REVOLVING DOOR OF STRANGERS IN AND OUT OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD HOMES BEING CONVERTED TO ILLEGAL HOTELS EATING UP AFFORDABLE HOUSING LOWER HOME VALUES IF PROPERTY DAMAGE OCCURS AND HOMEOWNERS ARE UNINSURED NEW NEIGHBORS WHO MAY BE SPRING BREAK PARTIERS OR WORSE, CRIMINALS LEARN MORE: NEIGHBORS FOR OVERNIGHT OVERSIGHT Protecting Communities. Promoting Safety.

14 ILLEGAL HOTELS THREATEN AFFORDABLE HOUSING As short-term online rental companies expand, affordable housing vanishes. Self-policing by these companies is not enough we need to protect local housing options. LEARN MORE: NEIGHBORS FOR OVERNIGHT OVERSIGHT Protecting Communities. Promoting Safety.

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