Here’s a little secret you might not expect: Short-term rental regulations are shaping up to be the next big battleground for hosts and policymakers. But don’t worry, there’s a way to navigate this challenging landscape and advocate for fair regulations that protect your business. You won’t believe the strategies and resources available to host communities worldwide. Ready to uncover the surprising world of short-term rental advocacy and regulations? Stay tuned to find out how you can be part of this game-changing movement.

You have to be proactive or you become inactive. The best way to protect the future of your business is to really be taking a proactive stance and looking at how you can professionalize and create an organization that has the sustainability to last beyond just a regulatory battle. – Dana Lubner

In this episode, you will be able to:

My special guest in this week’s episode is Dana Lubner. Dana is the director of community development at Rent Responsibly, is a prominent figure in the short-term rental industry. With a background in property management and a pivotal role in establishing Mile High Hosts, Denver’s short-term rental alliance, Dana has demonstrated a deep commitment to advocating for fair regulations and sustainable hosting communities. Her extensive experience and contributions to the “How to Save Your Vacation Rental Business” podcast reflect her expertise in navigating regulatory challenges and shaping the future of the short-term rental landscape. Dana’s dedication to equipping hosts with essential tools and resources positions her as an invaluable asset for those seeking to thrive in an ever-evolving regulatory environment.

Learn more about Rent Responsibly

Website: www.rentresponsibly.org

Rent Responsibly Network: https://network.rentresponsibly.org

Connect with Dana:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danalubner/

**Dana is also open to do advocacy and leadership 1:1 consulting calls. For more details, go to this link – https://meetings.hubspot.com/dlubner**

The key moments in this episode are:

00:00:08 – Introduction to Direct Booking Success Podcast

00:00:36 – Importance of Advocacy and Regulations

00:02:51 – Building Local Alliances

00:07:21 – Evolution of Advocacy

00:10:38 – Importance of Advocacy and Education

00:15:31 – Importance of Local Short Term Rental Alliance

00:16:25 – Resources for Advocacy and Leadership

00:18:45 – Collaborative Regulation Approach

00:20:52 – Impact of Regulations

00:24:57 – Rent Responsibly’s Support and Services 

FREE GUIDE: 10 Ways to Drive Guests to your Website instead of Airbnb: https://directbookingsuccess.com/10-ways-to-drive-guests-to-your-website-instead-of-airbnb/

Show notes are available at: https://directbookingsuccess.com/podcast/

Follow Jenn on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/directbookingsuccess

Join Jenn’s free Facebook group – the Marketing Hub: https://www.facebook.com/groups/strmarketinghub


00:00:00 - Jenn Boyles

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Direct Booking Success Podcast. I'm Jenn Boyles, your host, and today I have Dana Lubner with me now. Dana is the director of community development with rent responsibly. Welcome, Dana.

00:00:16 - Dana Lubner

Thanks, Jenn. I'm so honored to be here with you on your podcast.

00:00:19 - Jenn Boyles

Oh, it's great to have you here. Now for everyone listening, this is not going to be our marketing, a marketing focused episode. We are going to be talking about advocacy and regulations. But don't switch off yet, okay? Because this is something that is taking the world by storm right now. The word regulations, if you haven't heard it in your area, it's coming. And this is so important. So we're going to be sharing a lot about what advocacy is, how to get involved, how to get started, these kinds of things in your area. Because you have to remember that if the regulations come in and hamper your business so much that you can't operate, there's no point talking about direct bookings or marketing because you won't have a business to run. So this is that important. So, Dana, I'm so glad that you're taking time out of your busy schedule here today. Let's start by telling us a bit about who you are and what you do.

00:01:17 - Dana Lubner

Awesome. Well, I am honored to take time out of my schedule to be here with you, Jenn. My name is Dana Lubner, and as you shared, I'm the director of community development with the Rent Response Program. But the way that my story starts getting into the community of short term rental began back in 2018 when my brother Taylor invited me to join his property management company, effortless rental group. I'm super close with my siblings, and it was an honor to join his company and be part of his vastly growing portfolio. It was about 2019 that in Denver, regulations were being enforced in a manner in which started to see short term rental hosts be arrested for claims that they were falsifying their primary residence requirement in order to rent your property as a short term rental. My journey then began into advocacy, and I kind of haven't looked back since. So I started the Mile high hosts, which is Denver's short term rental alliance. It was later that year that we hosted our first good neighbors summit, which is a local conference that brings together the whole community to talk about how to be a good neighbor, best practices and hosting. And now this fall, we're going on our 6th annual good neighbor summit. And it was back then that I was desperate to connect with other short term rental advocates around the country and find out what they were doing to build their alliance. And I remember calling up Megan McRae and saying, hey, can you give me like 20 minutes of your time? I need to pick your brain. I don't want to reinvent the wheel. I have a full time life, a full time job. No one's paying me to do this advocacy stuff. And she was incredibly gracious and generous with her time and really gave us a foundation to build out our local alliance. Later that following year, I joined our statewide organization called Clara, where I sit as a founding board member, and then just saw this momentum around advocacy and community building to build. It was in, I think, right when the pandemic hit. I started a podcast with Matt Landau called how to save your vacation rental business. We did three seasons of that podcast where I got to interview advocates around the country and learn about their battle stories and what they did to get a seat at the table and be successful in their community building efforts. And then joined rent responsibly and decided to take this passion for community building and advocacy and make it into a full time career. And now I'm working with short term rental advocates, leaders around the country, equipping them with tools and resources so that they can be successful hosts and making sure that they know how to build organizations at the local level that are built to last any battle that may be ahead. So it's been a really fun journey and I just genuinely get so excited to do the work that I do every day, which to me says I'm living in my passion and my truth.

00:04:20 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah, no, I love it. And you've told me things about you that I didn't even know. I didn't know about the podcast that you did with Matt Landau. I'm going to have to go check that out. That sounds really cool. Really cool. So we know what's happening. I'm sure most people know what's happening in Canada right now in BC, where I am, and it's very hardcore regulations that have come down from the government and there was no association, there was no advocacy effort going on. We didn't have a seat at the table. These regulations are coming in effect this spring. People are losing their businesses and staff are losing jobs, and it's really serious. So this is one of the reasons why I'm starting to get more into advocacy. Things have happened in Scotland. England has just brought some things in. I know across the states there's been things, you know, if you haven't heard the word regulation, it is coming. And so this is why I wanted to bring Dana on because I'm seeing what's happening here in BC, where there is now an association and a great group of people called Direct Booking Success Podcast that are fighting this and fighting the government. However, had somebody taken the lead a year, two years, three years ago and created an advocacy group, we might not have been, we might not be in this position we are now. And so this is a warning to everyone out there. And I know you can put your head in the sand and say, it's not happening in my yard. It's not happening here, but it is coming. Dana, can you give us sort of an outlook of the changing landscape of advocacy for short term rentals that you see from your position with rent responsibly?

00:06:15 - Dana Lubner

Yeah. You know, in the beginning, like I mentioned when I was like, okay, we need to start an alliance. What is an alliance? There was really no playbook. There was nothing out there that gave you the Sop on how to bring people together, how to connect with other hosts, you know, how to come up with a name, you know, what is the digital presence that you need to have? And so it was back then, before I joined rent responsibly, that I was reaching out to a couple of the key players I knew that I had heard were doing things. Fast forward to today, 2024. There are, there's a wealth of information and resources. There is a digital network where short term rental leaders from around the world can connect with each other, share success stories, and ask questions on how to troubleshoot what their biggest challenges are. So it's really been from just 2019, which wasn't that long ago, to 2024, five years later, we've seen a tremendous growth in not only the awareness that regulations are coming to your community, and if you don't have regulations, it's something for you to be concerned about, or it's an opportunity. I'd say more than anything, if you don't have regulations, don't consider yourself safe. I'd say consider yourself with the incredible chance to drive those conversations. So start being proactive on how you can shape and suggest and make recommendations and build those relationships so you become the go to source. But now folks are understanding. We're going to see regulations, if we haven't already, and if regulations passed a year ago, two years ago, we very well may see those regulations change. And so we have people around responsibly that are now reaching out proactively, saying, we're not facing a regulatory battle, but we know we need a local alliance in order to show a unified, professionalized hosting community so that we can get ahead of those regulation discussions if they haven't yet happened or if they're being considered. Again, something that I heard a gentleman share with me the other day on a call was, you have to be proactive or you become inactive. And that resonated with me so much because right now, the best way to protect the future of your business is to really be taking a proactive stance and looking at how you can professionalize and create an organization that has the sustainability to last beyond just a regulatory battle. Because you don't hang up the running shoes after legislation is passed. You keep the group together, you may go into a little bit less active mode, but you have to keep that local presence together for forever. And so we're seeing a lot of folks understand what it means to build a group that's going to withstand the storm and have the longevity that revenue leadership, all of those types of things can really provide a group for the future.

00:09:12 - Jenn Boyles

And I think we need to say that regulations in itself are not a bad thing. Short term rentals are largely unregulated throughout the world. Anybody can rent out a room or a house or whatever on Airbnb and the next day get guests in. So it's kind of like, almost like the Wild west, if you will. But the issue is that if you don't have a seat at the table, it's up to the government in your area to decide what those regulations will be. And they may not be very fair across the board. They may have ulterior motives, they may have other groups that are petitioning them for their rights. And that's what advocacy is, isn't it? It's getting a seat at the table. Is that kind of how you would describe that word?

00:10:05 - Dana Lubner

Absolutely. It's getting a seat at the table. Being invited to shape future regulations. Like, the truth of the matter is that policymakers, whether it's at the state level, the local level, you know, they are looking at a myriad of different issues, topics and challenges that the community is facing, and they're not going to be an expert on a majority of them. And so if you can present yourself coming in respectfully and graciously and with curiosity, you're able to advocate for representing the hosting community as a responsible actors that care about their impact, that want to educate others, and that can share information about how our industry works in a way that these policymakers would never understand because for unfortunate reasons, whether they're too busy or whatever it may be, they're getting a lot of their facts from the headlines of the media. And we know the media does not really shine a bright light on short term rentals. And so we have to be able to educate and correct maybe misunderstandings or misconceptions or false narratives. And the way that you do that is through advocacy.

00:11:18 - Jenn Boyles

And if you're just listening to us and you don't see us, I'll have to tell you that Dana used air quotes when she was saying facts, because that's exactly right. I'm seeing what's happening here in BC. I'm seeing what the media is reporting, and I'm like, that's not the situation. How come you're not asking this question or this question? So, you know, I can see that the government is getting the same information from the media. It's almost like a vicious circle, isn't it? It could go around, and there needs to be someone to step up and say, look, this is not how we need this, how we need the regulations to go. And that's where the advocacy comes in, getting that seat at the table. So for someone listening to this going, okay, I'm in an area where we have no regulations, you're saying it's coming. What's the first thing they should do?

00:12:11 - Dana Lubner

So the first thing you want to do is if you're considering saying, hey, what can I do to get ahead of these regulations? Or how can I best position us to be prepared when these conversations start first, see if a short term rental alliance already exists in your community. So the best way to do that is rent responsibly and have an alliance directory. You just go to rent responsibly.org and click on the alliance section at the top of the website. We have 93 different alliances listed there. So see if one already exists and then reach out to them and say, hey, how can I get involved? How can I support your efforts? But if one doesn't exist, I recommend finding two to three local property managers or hosts to collaborate with. So the key is to recognize that you cannot do leadership alliance building by yourself. It's really a collective effort. And the more that you set that standard, that it's a collective group effort, you'll be able to share that workload. So you don't find yourself facing a lot of folks, that if you're listening right now and you're in a leadership position, you may be able to recognize signs of burnout that you've had over the course of the time that you've served, or I first personally have experienced it myself. The best way to prevent that is to look for individuals with a diverse set of skill sets, as this will bring strength to your alliance, and then you can go to the Rent Responsibly now RR network that we launched last year, and there are a ton of free resources that will help you hit the ground running. So everything from how to build them. An ultimate short term rental alliance, how to start a 501, you know, that's the direction we're seeing. A lot of local short term rental alliances and statewide alliances head toward.

00:13:57 - Jenn Boyles

What does that mean?

00:13:58 - Dana Lubner

So 501, yeah, so it's a nonprofit trade association classification with the government. So you have a tax exempt status once you file with the IR's. So this is going to be, I believe, primarily for your US listener, but this allows your organization to collect membership. Dude. So a 501 is a charity classification. A c six has that trade association. So oftentimes, you know, your chamber or your realtors association, those are going to be 501 c six s. And what that's going to allow you to do is build a group that is able to bring revenue into your organization by charging member dues. You know, we oftentimes see additional layers be added to the line item of operating a short term rental. You know, you have to have short term rental property insurance. You know, you want to make sure that your property is safe. The expectations around the guest expectations add a lot more there. Now we're also looking at licensing, taxing fees, all of that. The other line item we need to consider is a membership dues fees to your local short term rental alliance. Consider that part of your insurance package on future proofing your short term rental so that you have a group, a community you can lean on to support you if regulations come up or, you know, a community that you can leverage for learning best practices or networking with others. But in this digital networking, this is where you can find things that help you become an advocate. If you feel like, I have no idea how to do advocacy, you don't have to know how to do advocacy. Rent responsibly, has things like how to give public testimony or how to raise funds for your alliance. So tons of free resources for folks that are like, I got to start somewhere. I've been feeling this calling. Where do I go? What should I do? We've got a ton there that are free for you.

00:15:57 - Jenn Boyles

And take it in small steps because it would be very easy. I'm overwhelmed just listening to you. All the things that starting an alliance is a big thing to do, calling up the others in your area and discussing with them who could do what. Getting everyone involved, I think, is the biggest key here, so that you're not taking on the burden yourself and the resources that you're mentioning are for people worldwide, aren't they?

00:16:30 - Dana Lubner

Oh, yeah. I mean, that's the beauty of it. It's applicable wherever you are. And it might have some different vernacular or terminology, but the community building is the base of what we do at rent responsibly.

00:16:44 - Jenn Boyles

Mm hmm. I think it's hard because the regulations that come out are in such small pockets, aren't they? Like small areas. I know ours here in BC, it's a province, but it can be before the province has gotten involved, there were regulations in cities and towns. So it starts at a very local, grassroots level. And so knowing who else is in your community and just starting to talk with them about regulations and what is fair, that's. I think the point to get across is what is fair for everyone involved. Sort of a level headed approach, do you think, Dana?

00:17:30 - Dana Lubner

Yeah. I mean, I think one of the phrases that I learned that resonated with me is if you feel like you had to compromise a bit about the outcome of what the regulation was, if you had to have some concessions, you are, and so did the other side, whoever the other side may be, you're going to find regulations that are more balanced and that are built to last. If you feel like you've had a landslide win and you got everything you wanted, expect short term rental to come back to your city hall the next year or the next election cycle. Do you want to feel like you're really part of a collaborative discussion where you're saying, what can we live with? What can't we live with? What are, what are we going to die hard on the hill about? Like, where are our boundaries? And then getting that seat at the table when your community starts saying, hey, we want to discuss what it would look like to regulate short term rentals, even being proactive and saying, hey, I'd like to be on a task force. I'd like to serve on an advisory committee. And in Denver, I served on our advisory committee that we had in place for, I think, maybe six years when regulations were first passed. They started this committee, and I joined the committee. But you could go as far as saying, you know, hello, council members. Denver has a model, the short term rental advisory committee, acronym STRAC. And I want to propose that we build that advisory committee of community members, hosts, managers, you know, a myriad of different perspectives. So we can really have regulations that are part of our community versus somebody that doesn't understand our industry deciding our future for us.

00:19:09 - Jenn Boyles

And what are some of those regulations that you see coming out of these, out of the different governments? Are there things that you're seeing time and time again, or, you know, anything new? What are the regulations that normally come out from the different governments?

00:19:26 - Dana Lubner

Well, unfortunately, I think when there, like you mentioned, when there aren't, there isn't a short term rental presence in the community, we're more likely to see the ban be considered, which is just terrifying. We all know that when you ban things without having, you know, the conversation to say, what would it look like to have a registration system? What would it look like to have a licensing fee? The bans are really going to result in things like driving behavior underground. You know, there's a couple of articles that came out more recently about what's happening in New York City. You know, I'm sure some similar things could happen in BC, but unfortunately, the ban conversation still happens. So the best way to get ahead of that is to build a local presence and build relationships with local legislators. But we're seeing things like also a lot of taxing be part of the regulatory discussion in Colorado. We are currently in our legislative session and there is a bill that is looking at taxing properties that are used for 90 days or more as short term rentals, increasing those property taxes by 400%. It's been a huge effort on behalf of our statewide organization to organize grassroots, grass top, you know, we did a study, we hired lobbyists. You know, we're taking every single angle we can at defeating this, but it's just wild. There would be a $1.36 billion decrease in tourism spend in our state and over 8000 jobs that would be impacted by this tax. So it's wild to see these kinds of conversations even happening. It's clear that these policymakers are not having conversations upfront before they propose legislation like this. We're seeing taxes increased on short term rentals across the country as a way to generate revenue to address things like housing affordability. I'd say the housing affordability discussion is prominent. Workforce housing is prominent. But it's really painful to see these decision makers considering that short term rentals are the solution to these problems when there's such a bigger issue at hand that needs to be addressed in order to really solve our housing affordability or our workforce housing crisis. It's very, in my opinion, a knee jerk reaction. And so we're starting to see those conversations grow. But then we're also seeing things like community members organizing and filing lawsuits and saying that what this legislation that's passed is not actually legal and getting rulings through the Supreme Court and, you know, local jurisdictions where they're getting these rules possibly overturned. So there's the legislation tracker that we use at rent responsibly is like, it's a hot, hot tool because it's going off nonstop. There are so many conversations happening about regulations and updating regulations. It can be kind of overwhelming to look at the newsfeed. But we are seeing a more advanced group in the community doing advocacy. So that's promising.

00:22:33 - Jenn Boyles

You said 400%. I just wanted to drop. I just. It's just so short sighted. On behalf of the legislatures, the policymakers, the government, and this term, I like how you describe this sort of housing. It's a workforce housing crisis or an affordability housing crisis, whereas I see this vicious cycle, especially in the news here in BC, they just say housing crisis. So the public are up in arms thinking nobody can afford a house. We've got all these people coming in. Nobody can live anywhere. You know, let's get those short term rentals on the market so people can live there. And they're not seeing the wider picture that the affordability crisis is worldwide. It's worldwide. Talk to any major city right now. Look at what's happening there. And it's about bringing in the workforce. They can't afford to live in the major cities. So these companies that are having these major workforces need to think of other options, like building their own apartment block or whatever. You know, there needs to be other solutions presented. And I just. It is. It's sad and it's frustrating to see the media and the government in this circle of misinformation. I guess that's what you would call it. But it's lovely to hear that, you know, with the groups and the grassroots organizations getting together, that people can fight these things once the government has, you know, put them in law and that people are going all the way to the Supreme Court in the states and overturning them. And how else can rent responsibly help?

00:24:26 - Dana Lubner

So for groups that are in more of this advanced stage of their journey, they may be in a position where they've been in leadership, they're facing burnout. You know, they're looking to grow their alliance. They want to launch membership dues. Maybe they're tired of doing email communication. We have our pro services that they can leverage us for, hire us for, so they can do, we will do things for you like building a website, do your email management and communication, membership dues processing, legislative tracking, board development and succession planning, and so much more so folks can, like I referenced earlier, leverage us for a ton of free resources on the RR network. But then there's also our pro services where if you're like, hey, we're at a place where we really just need to take it up a level and really want to professionalize ourselves. Additionally, I do leader seminars throughout the year, so every couple months or so we'll bring in an expert to educate on topics like last month we did membership sales mastery, so it helps groups understand strategies for growing and retaining your members, or how to become a more confident public speaker, which we did with Amber Hurdle, or the art of professionalizing your advocacy effort. It's topics that I'm learning and hearing from alliances or possibly experiencing myself and my own journey that I think would be really valuable to bring to the community. And then I do office hours. So I have an hour on the second Thursday of every month where folks can join a zoom room. Usually there's about five to ten of us or alliance leaders that come and talk about what their challenges are. Leadership can feel very lonely and very isolating. So it's kind of like a group therapy session, a chance to learn and share from each other. Just really a beautiful, supportive community. So that can be found if you reach out to me for any of these, or Jenn, if you include them in your show notes, you can reach out to me at dana@rentresponsibly.org. And I'll be happy to plug you into any of these tools. But yeah, there's just a ton of ways that you can leverage our support. And nothing's more satisfying because these are all the things that I wish I had when I got my journey going. And so it really feels very gratifying to be able to support others in a similar way.

00:26:42 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah, no, I love it. Because if this is something that your new advocacy regulations are a new world, it's very overwhelming. But also to the fact that you don't have to reinvent the wheel, that people have been there before you and you can learn from them and have a community around you to support you going through this. So I'm going to put those links for the website rentresponsibly.org dot. I'll put all the links in the show notes and the network. I'll put your LinkedIn link in there as well. And you also are available for advocacy and leadership, one to one consultancy calls, aren't you?

00:27:22 - Dana Lubner

Yep, absolutely. You know, I grow by learning about the challenges of others, and I'm able to share what I've learned over the course of my years in leadership. But also, nothing gives me more satisfaction than connecting people with each other. So we've got a short term rental community builders private group within the RR network. And so people that are aspiring leaders are currently our leaders of short term rental alliances. Reach out. We'll get you in that group. There's a ton of resources curated just for you there, but it's really a chance to connect with the other folks that are leading the charge out there so you can really feel like you're not alone on this journey.

00:27:59 - Jenn Boyles

Well, thank you, Dana, so much for coming on today. I think it's upsetting and sad and frustrating that these are what has to happen. However, it is uplifting to know that there are groups out there and that you're supporting them with rent responsibly so that we can get a fairer regulation, a landscape for the short term rentals industry.

00:28:22 - Dana Lubner

Yeah, it's an honor to have a conversation with you. I wish this wasn't necessary are really the challenge that we're facing in our industry. But what I always say to myself is, you know, what we're doing now, the steps we're taking today are shaping the future for our businesses and for our industry. So whatever we can do to future proof for success, you know, we won't regret taking those steps. You'll never say, like, oh, I wish I hadn't been so prepared. You'll say, I wish I started sooner. And that goes through all the different assets, facets of starting a group. So I'm honored to have this discussion with you, Jenn.

00:28:56 - Jenn Boyles

Well, thank you so much, Dana, and we'll see you soon.

00:28:59 - Dana Lubner

Thanks. All right, thanks. Bye.

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