The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #01137

Submission Number:
01137
Commenter:
Denise Fegan
Organization:
PA Association of Bed & Breakfast Inns
State:
Pennsylvania
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
Short-term Rental Policy Pennsylvania Association of Bed & Breakfast Inns (PABBI) The Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Association of Bed and Breakfast Inns (PABBI), the state association for owners and operators of bed and breakfasts and inns is an organization formed to among other goals encourage our member properties to achieve a higher standard. To this end, the leadership of PABBI, is concerned about the emergence of new comers in the short-term rental market. Our members deserve a fair playing field and are concerned about safety and other issues with these unregulated short-term rentals. While this statement points particularly to Pennsylvania, the issues pertain to all states across the USA. Following the law and safety The laws and regulations of towns, boroughs, townships and counties vary considerably across the state of Pennsylvania. Safety however is a consistent concern though. It may be represented by fire escapes, fire extinguishers (safety tested yearly), smoke alarms and/or fire alarms (battery-operated or wired in with battery backup), even fire doors. Locks on both interior guest room doors and exterior doors are often regulated and alarm systems required. Then there's emergency lighting perhaps as little as a small rechargeable light that comes on with battery backup if the electricity fails, to wired battery backup lights aiming at exit doors and lighted exit signs. We are concerned about our guest safety in any kind of emergency situation. Marketing Websites are probably the primary source of marketing for our B&B's. We expect those websites to make sure that all who advertise with them comply with local laws and regulations. We ask the websites to allow their members to acknowledge to all' that they are compliant with all laws, have been inspected by authorities and carry at least $1 million in liability insurance for the protection of all guests. Taxation The state of Pennsylvania's second largest industry is tourism and a 6% sales tax is collected for almost all sales in the state including lodging. Part of this tax goes back into marketing the many tourist attractions in the state and the nearby accommodations, restaurants, shops and other businesses benefit from the influx of tourists, thereby contributing considerably to the local economy. Any local bed tax collected often goes completely back into tourism. All short-term rentals benefit from these travelers and therefore should contribute to the coffers of these local government agencies. Also, any websites that are accepting reservations and revenue from travelers for the short term rentals should be collecting and turning in this revenue. Conclusion In short, we encourage all local authorities across the state to be aware of anyone inviting travelers to stay in their homes. Those homes should have all inspections that any licensed accommodation in the state is required to have. We are very concerned that all travelers to our state be aware of and protected from places not adhering to basic safety and security measures.