Vacation Home Rental

In the last few weeks MSRPO has gotten a flood of calls from people who received letters from the Deparment of Health. If you received a letter from the Minnesota Department of Health that states, in part,

"MN Law (MN Statutes 157) requires that rental properties providing sleeping accommodations

to the public for periods of less than one week be licensed and inspected to ensure the safety and health of renters.

This state license is required regardless of any license or approval received frorn the local city ortownship," or if you have ever rented, or thought of renting your cabin to help make ends meet, then read on.

MN Statutes 157 is actually the definition of a hotel or motel under current law. The Department of Health brought forward legislation last session that contained sweeping definition changes, and attempted to put any cabin rented for even one night, under the same regulations and licensing requirements as a hotel. It was tabled in committee and never received a vote. This is the second year such draconian legislation has been put forward.

Treating and regulating a single family dwelling or cabin as a Hilton hotel defies logic and reasonableness.

In response to Health and Safety claims, we must ask, if our cabins our safe for our families, why would they not be safe for someone else's family. Cabins are vastly different than hotels in use - it is not like a car pulls up to a cabin and asks to rent a room for the night. And cabins and hotels do occupy the same market; some people prefer the experience a private residence or rustic remote cabin offers them.

Where was the Department of Health when people were renting out their homes for the political party convention in St. Paul 2 years ago. There was mention of health and safety then. People were just genuinely happy with the influx of tourists spending money in Minnesota.

Will the health department be hiring "cabin cops" to go after people who rent out their cabins, and will the counties and local governments be on the hook to pay for this added layer of bureaucracy ? People have been renting out their cabins and hunting shacks in Minnesota for 200 years without incident - why is it an issue now?

Why Is It an Issue Now?

A lot of people are frustrated with this economy. Cabin owners are certainly frustrated with escalating property taxes. And some people are renting out their cabins now because of those bills.

Resorts are struggling as well and we sympathize with them. But regulating something out of existence isn't going to solve the wider problems of a poor economy.

The state is also short on money and we just hope that the state isn't trying to balance its budget through fees and regulations. All income, property and sales taxes apply to occasional rentals - the definition does nothing to change that. and sales taxes are still due

What About My Neighbor Renting to Rowdies?

The Department of Health definition would in no way impact who an owner could rent to. In fact, in order to pay all of the fees, owners may be more liberal in who the choose to let rent their properties. Noise complaints should be taken to the local police - people are paying for this with property taxes. And owners who are repeat offenders can be taken to court and forced to be more responsible - the Department of Health legislation would have no impact on bad neighbors.

Unfortunately we can't legislate civility or decency.

What has driven this Issue?

The economy and the internet mostly. Craigslist, VRBO.com and others. This has really be happening since people started putting cabins on lakes. To classify it as a new phenomenon isnt really accurate.

What is the solution?

MSRPO is working with the Minnesota Vacation Rental Association (MNVRA). Early investigation indicates that the Department of Health is over-reaching. We can see the need for some definition that accurately reflects the cabin or hunting shack rental in Minnesota, and differentiates it from a hotel or motel, and stand willing to work towards creating such a definition. The regulations and fees should be reasonable and appropriate for the diverse and often rustic and charming nature of the many cabins or recreational properties in Minnesota.

If you are not an MSRPO member, but have ever rented, or considered renting your cabin for even one night, join us. This issue will be front and center next session, and the monied interests who would like to shut all cabin rentals out of the market are working overtime to accomplish their goals. We need money for legal counsel, for lobbying representation, for communication. But mostly we need your voice, and your energy in writing letters or emails regarding this important issue.

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