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Operating an Airbnb under the LA Home Sharing Ordinance

la home sharing ordinance 2020

 

As you’ve probably heard, the city of Los Angeles recently passed a home sharing ordinance designed to crack down on short-term home rentals in the LA area. Proponents of the ordinance have argued that short-term rental properties have contributed to the housing crisis in LA, making it difficult for long-term residents to find housing. 

Unfortunately, the ordinance has also made it much more difficult for vacation rental hosts in the Los Angeles area to see a return on their investment. Here’s what you need to know about operating an Airbnb under the new home sharing ordinance. 

What’s changing under the home share ordinance?

Hosts can now only list one rental property in the area and it must be their primary residence. This is supposed to crack down on landlords who rent out entire apartment buildings to vacation-goers, eliminating those units as a place for residents to potentially live. A host must live in the property for at least six months out of the year for it to qualify as a primary residence. 

There is also a limit to the number of times hosts can rent their residences out each year: 120 days. Once a host has rented their residence for 60 days or has been registered with the city for 6 months, they qualify to apply for an extended home-sharing option. For an $850 fee, you’ll be able to rent out your home year-round. 

In addition, short-term rentals will no longer be allowed in rent-controlled properties. All guests must adhere to a code of conduct, including quiet hours after 10 pm. If you are a tenant renting out your landlord’s property, you will need written permission from the landlord.

How can I register?

You must register your vacation rental properties through the Los Angeles City Planning online portal, which you can access here. You will need proof of primary residency when you do so.

Is the city enforcing these rules?

Yes. While some details of the LA home sharing ordinance might continue to change, hosts are already reporting that they’ve been contacted by the city. If your listing is in violation of the new ordinance, you will be notified, at which point you’ll have 30 days to bring your listing into compliance. If you do not, you’ll face a fine. 

What else do I need to know?

While enforcement is beginning, the ordinance, to some degree, is still in flux. Platforms like Airbnb have been pushing back against the ordinance which will hopefully result in more leeway for hosts over time. The best thing you can do is to sign up for the official newsletter in order to keep up with the latest developments. 

 

While this ordinance might put a damper on business for hosts in the LA area, it’s just one way the landscape is evolving to deal with the rise of short-term rentals. Without a doubt, other cities are sure to see similar ordinances in the future as well. The most important thing you can do as a host is to remain adaptable and be informed in order to stay on the right side of the law.

 

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Stay Successful after the LA Home Sharing Ordinance – LA Airbnb Law for Hosts

airbnb host los angeles airbnb law

 

Recently, the MaidThis team had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Matt Lockin and Henry Beam of Plushy Host. Plushy Host is a full-service vacation rental management company currently based in Scottsdale, Arizona, serving hosts across the U.S. 

We’ve worked with the Plushy Host team for quite some time in LA and in the Bay area. We rang up Matt and Henry to see if we could pick their collective brains about how hosts can successfully operate vacation rentals with the home sharing ordinance going into effect. 

Since the enactment of the 2015 “Airbnb Law” in San Francisco, Plushy Host has been helping their hosts continue to bring guests into their homes and make the most of the allowances the ordinance offers. 

Read on to learn more about how they do it, how they build their team, and why vacation rental management is so great for hosts.

The History of Plushy Host

airbnb cleaning serviceMT: Thank you, guys, for sitting down to chat with us for a bit. We really appreciate it and we know our LA audience will really appreciate the insight. 

Matt: We’re happy to help.

MT: Tell us a little bit about how where you both fit into the Plushy Host team.

Henry: We’ve been talking about this industry for years. Once Matt started, it was just a matter of time before I joined full time and we’ve been working on this for a while, many calls over the years to get where we are today but we couldn’t be more pleased. My job is the easy one – Matt’s the mastermind who forecasted the market and was able to see where the needs and voids were. 

We’ve organized Plushy in a way to really be able to help homeowners [with homes] of all shapes and sizes and in a number of markets around the country.

Matt thought it and created it. I couldn’t be more pleased to have him as an intellectual leader when it comes to short-term rentals, properties, property values, returns, procedures…I’m not sure there’s a question in this business that he can’t answer. Again, he makes my job that much easier. 

MT: So, Matt, as the “mastermind,” how did you get started? Do you have firsthand experience as a host?

matt lockin founder of plushy hostMatt: I’m partnering with Henry now, but I started with a different partner before there was the Plushy brand, the Plushy name. Previously, [my old partner and I] started out, and this was in, relatively speaking for the industry, pretty early days. We raised some equity, and purchased and converted homes and apartments, and did some mass re-leasing in Scottsdale and Phoenix, and Southern California. 

It started as an investment company in 2015. Well, end of 2014, beginning of 2015. That went reasonably well. It was a lot of work. We learned a lot of things, we made a lot of mistakes. It got to the point where, “We’re pretty good at this, we really do know what we’re doing. Let’s think about launching a third-party management company,” and that’s what we did.

My previous partner was on the real estate side, interested in the realty. I really loved the management side. I really like the ability to solve problems, and was just excited, you know? The industry itself is so exciting. 

He wanted to stay on the real estate side, so we parted ways. The current iteration of the company was launched. What are we? With all the changing technology, you’ve got vacation rentals. But there’s this urban side of things too, and all those things that are changing with Airbnb. That’s where things are headed, and marrying those two things up.

Again, it’s taken quite a while to figure out how you’re going to be remote, bringing in properties and managing properties that some of your operational people maybe never see, but your people on the ground do. It’s been a challenge, but it’s refined to the point where we do have all the processes and procedures in place. Adding not only more homes, but scaling on the operational side. Nothing works if you don’t have the operations figured out.

henry beam operations manager of plushy hostHenry: And we’ve dialed in our pricing tiers specifically to give people options. The 

higher pricing tiers are really a hands-off service for the owner – where the owner doesn’t necessarily have to do much in order to collect the revenue we help them generate with their short-term rental. 

Our lower-tier packages have more homeowner involvement… But at each price point, they’re all exceptional services and we do our best to add value – on the homeowner side, especially, but also, taking care of guests as well as we do is the name of the game.

This is an attention-driven business, meaning you have to always have attention for your homeowners and your clients; but you also have to always be attentive to the guests’ needs.

And as you probably know, every individual guest, you know – with a smile [laughs] – can potentially have different issues and we really try to do our best to work with everybody to get the best reviews we can, give the guests a great experience, a clean home, easy to get in, easy to get out, easy to understand, easy to enjoy. 

And then it comes back to doing a focused turnaround and getting the owner another solid booking.

Finding a “Loophole” in a Home Sharing Ordinance

airbnb cleaning serviceMT: We’ve recently been talking a lot with our host partners about the new LA home sharing ordinance.

Matt: Right.

MT: And working with you guys and having the opportunity to build a relationship with you, it’s been really interesting to hear about how you’ve worked through the home sharing law in the San Francisco area – that loophole, more or less. We know our LA hosts would be really interested to hear more about that.

matt lockin founder of plushy hostMatt: Yeah. I don’t know if I’d call it so much a loophole. The city, in LA Proper it’s pretty clear. Basically, in certain areas, shared space is still allowed. It’s not un-similar, or dissimilar from the way we’ve been operating in San Francisco in some ways. 

In a lot of ways, there’s, I guess you could call it a “shared space hybrid,” where there’s a certain period of time – 90 days, to be exact – where you’re allowed to [rent out] an entire space. 

Of course, we reserve those 90 days in San Francisco for the summer, which would be somewhat in terms of high season for LA, or Southern California. Then, the rest of the time we’re doing shared space.

It’s not a novel idea. It’s something that’s been going on for quite a while. There’s new management companies popping up every day, but they’ve not been operating with this sort of model where you’re doing both shared space and entire space, and doing it successfully. 

We’ve done better every year we’ve been doing it. It does take a little bit of figuring out, I guess, but that is what I love to do. Henry’s also an attorney, so he might be the one to add more here.

Henry: As I understand, West Hollywood, for example, has its own set of regulations, and so does Santa Monica. I believe West Hollywood has a provision where the owner actually has to be present during the guest’s stay.

 

matt lockin founder of plushy hostMatt: Yeah. San Francisco has similar language, and we have portions of it – whether [or not] it be shared space – it’s in the listing: Sometimes, owners do stay there. Sometimes, the owners stay there, sometimes they don’t. At least my take on it is, yes, [guests] need to know that it’s required. I think they do know. 

While we’ve been operating in San Francisco, sometimes the owner’s there, and sometimes they’re not. It’s really not something that we ask. It’s none of our business, but it obviously needs to be disclosed. 

If they’re not there, then [both guests and hosts] need to be aware that could be problematic. 

Now, the reality is that the city’s not keeping tabs on anybody either. They’re just not. I can appreciate why the city put it in there, to ostensibly make it more difficult. The reality is that no municipality that has passed a summer ordinance… It has never come up as far as I know. Boston, this is going to be happening. Very similar ordinance.

MT: New York, for example, has some kind of an ordinance, don’t they?

matt lockin founder of plushy hostMatt: Yeah. It got struck down by the circuit court. Same with Austin, and D.C. Well, D.C. is funny, because they all modeled it on this sort of, call it the “New York” model. It’s been struck down in three different circuit courts. 

I think it’s pretty clear, going about writing your ordinance in that manner is unconstitutional at this point. That is the way D.C. went, and the Mayor apparently refused to sign it into law. I don’t know what’s going to happen there but it is exciting to follow. 

The point is, that’s one way to go about it. This shared space hybrid, which LA’s… They [The LA and SF ordinances] aren’t identical, but it’s the closest thing to being constitutional, I think. San Francisco’s had it for a while, and it seems to work. Really, what they’re doing – they’ve got an exception there, too. For LA Proper, the real solution there is, you’ve got to go get the extended permit. 

MT: Right. There’s a lot of hoops to jump through.

Matt: Yes, and I think you have to be a good operator. What they’re doing is trying to get rid of the bad operators, right?

MT: Right, sure.

Matt: That’s what this is about. This is not about banning short-term rentals. They’re smarter than that. It’s about getting rid of bad operators, which San Francisco has done. The unit count’s way down, and there’s not nearly as many problems. 

You’ve got to jump through hoops. It can be costly to get it, but I think if you have a property that’s professionally managed with a group that’s been doing shared space and otherwise, I think that a lot of people are going to be able to get – the good operators are probably going to get their permits. It’s always going to come down to neighbors, right?

Henry: I can hop in and clarify a little bit. The LA ordinance for LA Proper, to me, it does two things: One, it caps it at 120 days a year, and they don’t necessarily differentiate from hosted, and un-hosted stays. It’s just a flat 120. 

If you want to extend the rental days, you’ve only got a few criteria to meet. It’s not necessarily a $5,000 application. It could turn into that for a discretionary review, but the standard application for registering or renewing – either a first time or a continual home sharing permit – is only $85. It then goes up for an extended home sharing as a review fee of $850, so it goes up about 10 times.

Matt: And if you’re not in compliance?

Henry: Right. So that’s when you need a discretionary review, if you had more than one citation within the past three years. If you don’t have a citation, then you’ve got basically an $850 review fee, and only a few elements to get through. It’s really not terribly cumbersome. 

The first would be, you have maintained a valid home sharing registration for at least 6 months, or have hosted for 60 days. The host has to provide proof of mailing of notification of the extended home sharing application to adjacent, and abutting owners and occupants.

So basically, put your neighbors on notice and let them follow the procedures to objecting, if they are so inclined. 

The second is the host home sharing registration has not been suspended or revoked within the past 2 years. That’s one of those clear guidelines that I’m sure most of the cities will implement at some point. You don’t get too many shots at the apple if you want to host more than the 120 [days]. 

Finally, for administrative approval, the host must have been issued “no more than one citation within the prior 3 years.” If you have more than one citation in the past couple years, you’ve got to go through the discretionary review process. That’s where they hit you with that $5,660 application fee.

MT: Wowza.

Henry: Right?

matt lockin founder of plushy hostMatt: Yeah. The point is, you don’t want to get there. [Vacation rentals] need to be operated, obviously, in a manner where you’re not getting to that point. 

We’ve been operating in Napa, and in Saint Helena where there’s only 25 permits. If you talk outside after 9:00, you’re going to get complaints, and the cops get called. It’s just one of those kinds of places. 

You’re doing the noise monitoring, you’re doing cellphone counters. There’s a lot of things you can do from a management side of things that I think some owners are going to do, and some will need to do it. Frankly, you really need to have everything dialed in 24 hours a day, because stuff happens at night when you’re talking about noise.

I think we have a way to go about it in terms of helping getting through the permitting processing, the steps you need to take. Then, everybody is going to be starting the 6-month period. Getting people through that, and then obviously, it’s going to be a lot harder to operate. There’s a lot less room for error. 

We’ve been doing this in places where it’s even more onerous, and we’ve been successful doing it. I think I feel pretty confident that we could help in that regard. Plus, having the experience in dealing with these ordinances, and the legal side of things.

The other side of it is, in these other areas of town, and there are many where the shared space kind of hybrid thing is the only thing that works. Maybe owners that don’t necessarily want to go get a permit, or they do notify their neighbors and they’re not allowed to get the entire space for 24/365. I still think there’s solutions. 

It took us a while to get there in terms of figuring it all out. Part of it is MaidThis, though. Your team is in San Francisco, and I’ve had good luck with your people in LA too. We wouldn’t be able to operate there if you guys didn’t have such a great team there. 

Creating a Dream Team

MT: Right. Systems, absolutely.

Matt: Yeah, yeah. A lot of that’s Henry. Henry decided to come on board.

Henry: It’s all that guy, right there.

matt lockin founder of plushy hostMatt: No. No, I mean, I can answer the questions and I don’t get stumped almost ever, right? Putting the pieces together, that’s definitely Henry, and being able to manage people. I don’t think I’m the best people manager. Probably too much of a pushover, frankly. [laughs] 

Anyway, so it works, you know? It’s working. Mostly, it’s just exciting. We’re small. We’re tiny compared to most of the companies that are out there. I think we provide a lot more.

That was the hard component. It was like, anybody can get in there and really just be, like, a booking agent. I get all that. I get how it works. To really be building out, it’s exciting. I don’t know which direction it’s all going to go. I just know it’s all exciting.

airbnb cleaning serviceMT: We think, too, from the standpoint of the size of your company, Airbnb guests choose Airbnbs because they want to have that sort of smaller, more intimate experience with someone that’s a local, right?

Matt: That’s true.

MT: For hosts, there is a sense of camaraderie and teamwork working with a smaller boutique company that really caters well. There is that sort of relationship that doesn’t exist when a much larger “big box” company that does some of what you guys do. I think size is relative. The relationship is clearly what matters to your clients.

matt lockin founder of plushy hostMatt: It matters to us too, because again, we offer more. We’re even taking risks in our top tier. If something’s damaged, we’re paying or helping to pay for it quickly. 

We have [potential] clients inquire all the time. We’re sitting around, it’s not just Henry, it’s not just the owners. It’s operations folks, it’s homeowner reps. Together we decide if we want to take this owner on. It’s equal parts home and homeowner.

You could have a great property, but if the owner’s not holding up their end of the bargain – and again, we’re doing a lot more, so it is important. That’s sort of the other reason why we have grown slower. I would rather have a couple hundred clients that I had for 30 years or whatever than a thousand clients that I have for three months, and they realize it’s a joke. You know what I mean?

That’s the difficult part, is figuring out the hard parts of this; waste management, for example, and on and on. It’s funny that I remember when we first started, even solving access, and the smart lock options that were out there just even four or five years ago compared to what’s out there now, and how that’s getting streamlined, and directly integrated into Airbnb. There’s problems like that. I remember when you couldn’t even change your title in Airbnb internally. They have a naming convention. Seems like a silly, small thing.

All these sort of problems, I was hoping somebody in the ecosystem would start solving these problems, and they are now. It’s just really cool to see it coming together, and aggregating certain technologies that they have solved problems. There’s still a lot of them out there, but it feels like it’s moving in the right direction. What do you think, Henry?

Henry: Oh, I certainly do.

MT: Yeah.

Henry: It’s interesting. I think a good example would be the first-time Airbnb host. They might get through the first two or three bookings and think, “It’s not too big of a cumberance.” Then, something comes up they’ve never heard of before, and then something else comes up they’ve never heard of before. 

Then, they don’t know how to solve it, and something else comes up, and another. Traditionally, it’s been really hard for people to effectively manage, or really understand the breadth of issues that can come up between a guest and a rental. 

Matt’s done an incredible job of utilizing his knowledge base to effectively and efficiently solve guest issues, refining the process, and implementing software to solve them. We’re getting lucky because we’re getting more and more support from software to make it easier and easier. It just reinforces the procedures and policies that we have put into effect. 

We love it, and the better the ecosystem gets, as Matt says, the better everybody is going to be. I think the management companies who really have experience, and really understand the day in and day out requirements of this business are just going to excel. 

Unfortunately, I think some on the lower end may filter out, because it’s just too much. You can’t jump proper structure in this business. One brick leads to the second and so on. It’s like that class that I failed back in 1999. If I read the first two weeks, I probably could have understood week three and week four, but I jumped in at week four and I was lost. Probably not the best analogy, but it’s close. 

You build the strongest systems piece by piece and no amount of marketing can replace dedicated knowledge and diligence. I did fail that class, but it’s okay. The good news is I was able to make it through law school with flying colors, so maybe one day I’ll re-take it, but Matt and I have many guests to care for so that is the priority for now. [laughs]

We do a great job staying on it. If there’s new software, we look at it, and we’re always looking to evolve with the bigger system – Airbnb, VRBO, Booking.com  and everybody else. As long as we keep that mentality, I’m exceptionally optimistic that we can stay on the cutting edge of this emerging industry, which is a huge key to the success of any company in this day and age. 

Running Remotely

airbnb cleaning serviceMT: That’s great. So, the company is based in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. Where is the home base of the company, more or less, currently?

Matt: It has somewhat moved around for a time period. For a while, we had more people in New Orleans than anywhere. There were sort of office sales, and all the rest. We have settled on Scottsdale. When did we ink the lease, Henry?

Henry: I believe it was back in April 2019. Scottsdale is a premier vacation destination almost year-round. 

matt lockin founder of plushy hostMatt: It has moved around, frankly, depending on which employees we have where, but it’s now got to a point where it’s settled in Scottsdale, yeah. 

Here’s the funny thing. We get asked this question all the time. I love this question when someone’s like, “Well, wait a second. I don’t understand. You guys are based in Scottsdale, and my property’s in Newport, Rhode Island. I don’t understand. How does this work?” They’re very confused as to how that works and why it really doesn’t matter. It’s processes, procedures.

The way we go about our onboarding, our maids – which again, MaidThis and the team has done such an exceptional job for us. We’re all over the country. Explaining the processes, procedures, and the people involved, and the fact that we do have people on the ground. They don’t have an office over their head, and therefore we don’t have to charge you 40% in management fees, right?

MT: Right, right.

Matt: As far as how we go through everything, it wouldn’t matter. I always use the analogy, we have properties that are blocks away that the people who are making the decisions, and making the machine work, have never seen and will never see. 

My other favorite one. I’ve just got to tell one quick anecdote. There’s a movie producer from Hollywood that was in Boston shooting a Sarah Silverman movie, calling a management company in Scottsdale to manage a house in Atlanta that no one had ever seen.

This guy bought it, sight unseen. He looked at the pictures and did the video walkthrough. I think that’s a really good example of how this works for [Plushy Host]. Neither of us has seen it, we had a smooth onboarding and its working just like it’s supposed to. 

I did put eyes on it. I’m from Atlanta originally, so I eventually did see it personally. Again, it’s like, that’s where we are these days. It’s happened so quickly. I still think no one really realizes. It’s going to be a very different world. It’s only getting faster, so it’s exciting times, for sure.

airbnb cleaning serviceMT: Yeah, for sure. It is obviously a very remote situation where you can “work” anywhere even though you’re officially based in Scottsdale.

How do you normally go about choosing your local people on the ground, where – even in a situation like this situation in Atlanta that’s so unique – where the person that purchased it and owns it, and the people technically operating it, haven’t even ever seen it? How do you go about choosing, if you expand into a new city for example? What’s the process for that?

matt lockin founder of plushy hostMatt: That is the big cut. That is the big question, is do we have properties there, or nearby, or have we had properties in the past? Sometimes, owners come and go. They’ve got to sell their property, a number of things can happen. We have a pretty robust network depending on where you’re talking about. 

It just so happens that certain areas of the country tend to do better than others in terms of revenue. It just so happens that’s where our calls come in from generally. It just so happens we either have properties there now, or we have in the past. Again, in the beginning it was super difficult, right?

Your first five properties are a lot harder than the next five, or the next five. Getting a critical mass of properties in an MSA was the big hurdle for some of the major markets. You talk about Atlanta, or the panhandle, or New Orleans, or Southern California, or any number of the cities that we’re in. 

Those were relatively easy, because we’ve been working with a lot of the housekeepers for years now, and we try to go within the network. That’s the thing that I really love in this business.

MaidThis’s referral service is outstanding. You really are the exception to the rule. It’s one-off housekeepers that work incredibly hard. We pay them well. We pay them incredibly well, and they work incredibly hard. They are independent contractors, but they do so much more than just the housekeeping. They’re really a part of the team. If it’s a new market, then there’s a process to that as well. We’re up front, and straightforward. We don’t hide the ball.

We explain how we do things with an owner, and if it’s a new market we say, your onboarding’s going to take an extra couple days or could take an extra couple weeks, and this is how your onboarding specialist is going to go through it. 

If we have an issue, this is not the first new city we’ve been in, and if we have an issue you’re going to hear about it. We’re not going to onboard if there’s a problem. We’ve done, I think the most difficult was probably the house in North Aspen on 60 acres, in the middle of nowhere. It was gated. That was in the early days too. We had that one done and operated it. That’s probably the most difficult it was going to get.

It can be challenging in some of the traditional vacation rental markets where the labor pool is thinner, or it’s already spoken for. There’s a lot of unhappy housekeepers out there, and staff that frankly are not treated right, and are not paid what they’re worth. 

We have pretty good luck about… Well, it’s not luck. We have a good way of going about finding talented housekeepers. When you’ve been doing it while, there’s a way we want it done, and we explain it. 

When you’re in this business for a while, you can tell pretty quickly whether or not someone should be your first cut. Occasionally, if we’re opening in a new market and it’s not working out, we always have someone else we’re going to go to. There’s so many tools out to find housekeepers; quality ones. Again, as the ecosystem grows, there’s so many housekeepers that have specialized in it, and if you know where to look you can find the talent.

Building Systems that Win Every Time

airbnb cleaning serviceMT: A lot easier to do it, yeah. I hear you. 

Let’s talk a little bit more about systems. Obviously, I know that’s such a huge important part of your business, literally from the ground up. What kind of systems have you used in the past that you’re continuing to use? 

Matt: [laughing] You want the secret sauce. I’m not giving you the secret sauce.

MT: [laughing] Well, you don’t have to give it all away.

matt lockin founder of plushy hostMatt: I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Again, I think everything revolves around the cleaning. If you don’t have clean access, you don’t have good access, and you don’t have good cleaning, then you have nothing. 

I would say, the majority of processes and procedures, and the systems that are in place are to streamline, and check, and double-check, and re-check housekeeping, and access, honestly. 

Now, when a guest needs something there is a procedure there too, as far as what they’re instructed to do, and whether or not they follow it who knows. Guests need to reach somebody 24/7, which brings in the guest services side of the systems.

Really, so much of it, if you have your cleaning procedures done, and how you’re scheduling, and how you’re checking, again, it goes back to everything from checking for damages, and resetting thermostats, and all the other tasks that housekeeping needs to do in a lot of cases. 

It’s also software, obviously. A lot of it’s automated, or the housekeepers have been trained on how the software works, and they’re getting automated messages and all that’s great. 

But really, it’s people. We’ve been really fortunate that some of the core group in terms of operations, it’s something where people still pick up the phone when there’s an owner or a housekeeper. 

There are still a lot of procedures that require escalations, and a human on the phone. Maybe I’m just a really, really old millennial, like, barely made it kind of old. I still feel like it’s great, all the things that technology’s doing. It’s allowing us access to this market, and this new ecosystem but a knowledgeable person still can’t be replaced. 

At the end of the day, you’re still dealing with homes, and in a lot of cases very high-end homes. This is someone’s vacation, and sometimes the nicest vacation someone may ever take, depending on the type of home, and when it is, and who it is. 

It necessitates communication and people. That’s been another challenge. Henry helped put some of that together too, as far as, how do we make sure that we have around-the-clock coverage without a call center. That was challenging but we did it with flying colors.

Henry: It comes down to relationships.

MT: Yeah, it does.

Henry: It’s comes down to respecting the people you work with, having a common vision, and focusing in on what we’re here to do and that is offer great hospitality for short term rentals. We take care of somebody’s home, their investment, and take care of the homeowner, make sure the guest is having the absolute best stay they possibly can. It all starts fundamentally with good, solid people, good training, common vision, and solid relationships. 

Once you have that, then the technology can certainly facilitate whatever you need it to do. I think, at least in my experience with Plushy Host, we’ve done that, and we’ve done that over, and over again. Every opportunity to bring in the right people, bring in the best talent we can, and put that talent exactly where it needs to go. This is our company-wide strategy and we look at ourselves as a giant team. It’s often that everybody can be looped in on one project. Well, not often, but everybody’s talking, everybody’s communicating…

matt lockin founder of plushy hostMatt: Wait, wait. Now, you are giving away the secret sauce! [laughing] The real secret is that, whether you’re an owner of the company, or you’re in operations, or you’re a housekeeper in Charlotte, everybody is part of the team.

Nobody, not one person is expendable, and everybody is completely needed or the whole thing collapses, honestly. At least we treat it that way. 

It’s been interesting, because, how large can you grow, and how many people can you add and have this team model? How to be efficient, but it’s interesting because it is dynamic, and people shift. 

As we’ve had people move up in the company, they know how to do more things. Everybody knows how to do everything… Not everybody, but people can shift and pivot. I do think there’s a way that we’re going to continue to grow in scale where it’s very dynamic like that. 

Some of it’s a fairness thing, but another part of it is, it’s just so much more efficient to have everybody chime in. The top-down rigid structure, I just don’t… If we had 10-thousand units overnight and we just didn’t care about the way this thing grew, then maybe. We would have to be a top-down command kind of thing. This has all been Henry, though. Putting the people together, and how the team’s structured is exceptionally important. Henry is very good at it. It’s a good partnership in that way.

Henry: It’s a simple formula. You hire good people, you treat them well, you get everybody on the same team. You take your team out, you do the best work you can do week after week. It’s not complicated, but we’ve done a great job, and we’ve got an incredible team. We do. We’ve built an absolute powerhouse team and I’m exceptionally proud of all of them.

 

 

We’re so grateful to have had this incredible opportunity to talk with Matt and Henry from Plushy Host and to learn more about what makes their business tick. Both were very humble during our conversation, but we’ve got to say, they know what they’re doing and they’re well positioned to help hosts in LA navigate the waters of the new home sharing ordinance. 

To learn more about their business, visit the Plushy Host website. To get started with their host application process to work with them, schedule a call with the Plushy team.

 

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At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

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Help Us Fight the L.A. Home Sharing Ordinance!

los angeles home sharing ordinance fight

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you know that the new LA home sharing ordinance will go into effect in just a few short weeks on November 1st. At this point, you’re likely preparing to comply with the law and register your vacation rental.

(If you’re still stumped on what’s going on, check out the quick and skinny on the ordinance at the MaidThis blog.)

However, like you, we at MaidThis continue to be alarmed and concerned about the impact this new ordinance will have – both on our community of hosts and other vacation rental service providers like us.

Now that things are nearly “in place” and the ball is starting to roll with these changes, you may be asking yourself what you can do. 

We’re asking ourselves the same question and, as it turns out, we’re not alone: hundreds of hosts and Airbnb service providers across greater Los Angeles are banding together to continue fighting the damaging sides of the new law.

At MaidThis, we’re asking all our hosts to join us in the fight to overturn parts of the ordinance. Here are a few things you can do to get involved with the local movement.

1. Follow and get involved with Homeshare Alliance Los Angeles.

Homeshare Alliance Los Angeles (also referred to as HALA) is a new organization of “homeowners, tenants, cleaners, mom & pop shops, single moms, empty nesters, families of all colors and many different walks of life” who have come together to fight several key points on the LA home sharing ordinance.

HALA is THE group leading the cause and, hands down, the best group to be part of as we continue this fight. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up-to-date on what’s happening and how you can help.

2. Sign the petition on Change.org started by friends at HALA.

The crew at HALA has a goal to reach 2,500 signatures on their petition and they’re nearly there. If we all band together, we can easily surpass that goal!

Sign the petition to let your voice be heard. It just takes a minute and makes a huge impact.

3. Write a short statement of support for the 4 proposed changes to the existing ordinance (1 ordinance and 3 motions).

Unlike many other city councils across the U.S., the L.A. City Council takes the voices of its constituents online very seriously. That’s good news for us!

By tacking on a short comment to the updated ordinance and 3 motions recommended by councilmembers in support of the HALA movement, you add more wood to the fire.

If you can’t make it to city hall to speak in person and get your comments on the record, this is the next best thing to do and a great way to get involved. 

Grab the links from HALA’s website and leave a statement on each. Again, your statement doesn’t need to be long, it just needs to clearly support the motion or ordinance.

4. Speak publicly and share your opinion with city council committees on Tuesdays.

You may not be able to speak for long (the maximum time allotted for community speakers is just 1 minute), but your voice makes a serious impact.

HALA recommends signing up to speak at weekly Planning & Land Use Management (PLUM) committee meetings held at 2:30 every Tuesday in City Hall room 340 and we second that recommendation.

However, we also recommend attending the bi-weekly Trade, Travel, and Tourism committee meetings held at 2:00 every 1st and 3rd Tuesday in City Hall room 1060.

Why do we recommend attending two meetings, you ask?

Because councilman Mike Bonin, vice chairman of the Trade, Travel, and Tourism committee, is one of the two councilmembers to have introduced the LA home sharing ordinance in the first place. Councilman Bonin vowed to protect home sharing and “cut down” on what he called “rogue hotels,” but his proposed and soon-to-be-enacted ordinance does more harm than good to genuine hosts.

What better way to express your view on the ordinance than to tell one of the people personally responsible for its enactment?

Here are a few points to hit in either  committee meeting:

  • By limiting Airbnb/VBRO, etc. hosts, the city of L.A. is making a huge negative impact on its tourism industry. Tourists flock to Airbnb and similar sites because they don’t want to stay in hotels; they want to feel like true locals and vacation rental hosts provide that experience.
  • The ordinance directly affects and hurts more than just hosts. Local businesses in the vacation rental services industry, such as cleaning companies and others, will also take a hit from these changes. This will negatively affect the local economy and jobs numbers.
  • Many hosts’ short-term rental earnings are their main source of income. Most hosts aren’t “getting rich” off their vacation rental; they’re simply trying to pay the bills and make a living like everyone else. These changes have a deeply negative impact on our local community members.

 

There are so many simple ways to get involved and share your opinion on the changes that are happening. At MaidThis, we are joining the fight not just for you, but for us, too. The LA home sharing ordinance affects all of us: let’s work together to make a change that helps everyone.

 

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Vacation Rental


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  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
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Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

Blog

LA’s New Airbnb Laws: 3 Things You Need to Know

los angeles airbnb law la

 

If you own a rental property in the LA area, you’ve probably heard about the new Airbnb laws that were voted on last December. These laws take effect this month and are already starting to have an impact on the vacation rental industry in Los Angeles. 

If you’re wondering how these laws will affect your rental property, here’s what you need to know. 

1. Registration

The new ordinance states that renters can only host guests in their primary residence, not in a secondary rental property or vacation home. Hosts must register with the city for an $89 fee in order to rent out their home, and if you want to host for more than 120 days in a calendar year you’ll have to register for “extended home-sharing,” which comes with another $850 fee. 

In order to qualify for the extended home-sharing option, you must be registered as a host with the city for at least six months or have rented your property for at least 60 days. That means if you regularly rent your property for long periods of time, you’ll have to wait anywhere from a few weeks to a few months before you can do it again. 

2. Limitations

Before you go to register, you’ll need to make sure you can rent out the property you have. Rental properties cannot be any of the following:

  • Rent-stabilized apartments, even if you own the property
  • Apartments you are currently renting (without written permission from your landlord)
  • Non-residential buildings, vehicles, or temporary structures, including tents, RVs, yurts, sheds, garages, or trailers

Many types of rental properties are excluded by this new ordinance, which is sure to ruffle some feathers among hosts

3. Rules

Once your property has been properly registered, there are a few other rules you’ll need to follow. 

First of all, you’ll need to pay lodging taxes to the city. You’ll also need to maintain the property, keep records of who you rent to along with details of their stay, and provide safety measures such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. 

You’re also responsible for making sure your guests know to respect noise ordinances by providing a list of rules regarding outdoor gatherings or loud music. Evening congregations of more than 8 people are prohibited, and there cannot be any “amplified sounds” after 10 pm.

These new rules will be enforced in a few ways, according to the city. For instance, if a neighbor reports any noise or “good neighbor” violations, you as the host can receive a citation or a fine. 

Finally, if your rental property does not include a registration number in your listing, you will also be subject to disciplinary measures. Rental platforms like Airbnb are tasked with cracking down on listings without registration numbers.

 

While the new laws have received pushback from many rental companies, there’s no change in sight for this legislation. The best thing to do is to make sure you’re following the law and providing a safe, legal experience for your guests. 

 

For more information, visit the Los Angeles City Planning website to read more about the current regulations. 

 

At MaidThis! we pride ourselves on providing the best possible experience for our clients. For a cleaning service you can rely on time and time again, check out what MaidThis! can do for you.

 

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At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

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The Smart Host: Using Data to Boost Your Vacation Rental Occupancy

vacation rental data

People all over the world have recently been supplementing their income through renting out spaces in their homes as vacation rentals. Whether you’re an experienced host, just getting started, or are still thinking about whether you should get in on the action, we want to help you decipher the wealth of information at your fingertips to make the most of your property’s potential.

The tricky thing about working with data is taking all the new terms and graphs and extracting not just the basic information, but understanding the underlying reason for why these specific qualities can increase or decrease the profitability of your vacation rental. To illustrate this, we’ve taken raw stats presented by AirDNA to educate you about what real-life practical solutions you can use to increase your occupancy.

Basic Knowledge is Power

With the growing demand for vacation rentals, there is an increasing availability of data service companies that give hosts the information they need to maximize profits from their vacation properties. Here, you’ll find a quick breakdown of the different kinds of details available to you.

Basic Stats

Most vacation rental reports will include basic information about your chosen city, including population, number of homes in the city, and the average income of its residents. At AirDNA, they go a step further and provide a basic breakdown of how many of each type of rental property is available. This is important because it can identify what kinds of properties are the most common or show you a niche market without much competition that you can take advantage of. AirDNA provides data using only actively rented properties to ensure that the information is accurate and practical.

Los Angeles active Airbnb listings
Image courtesy of AirDNA.

 

By taking a look at this chart, it’s easy to see that private and 1-bedroom listings are extremely common, consisting of over half of the listings. While there may be a large demand for these kinds of properties, it may also mean that it will be harder for a new property to stand out amongst a large number of competitors.

While the market for shared rooms or large 4-bedroom properties may be smaller, there will also be fewer competitors. This is the kind of information which may influence a host’s decision on whether or not to list a similar type of property.

Historical Listing Info

Knowing the history of listings can come in handy. This kind of information shows the overall increase or decrease of active listings in an area on a month-by-month basis.

There are many reasons for listings to be taken off the market, but if the general pattern of growth is negative in your area, you may want to reconsider if your property will have a good chance of being profitable or not.

Occupancy Rate Info

Occupancy rates are extremely varied between locations, so it’s important that you have accurate information about your property’s area. Occupancy rate is calculated by the number of days rented divided by the number of days it was available to rent in a month. That means if your property is only available 10 days a month but you rent it out on 8 of those days, you would have an 80% occupancy rate.

San Francisco occupancy rate
Image courtesy of AirDNA.

 

This chart shows the median, or average, occupancy rate for all San Francisco rental properties over the last 12 months. The 71%-rate denotes a strong demand for vacation rentals in the area, so even new listings without many reviews could become quickly profitable. When compared to other areas that may only have a 50% median occupancy, that 20% difference could be as much as an extra week of booking per month.

San Francisco occupancy rate
Image courtesy of AirDNA.

 

Most importantly, this graph breaks down the occupancy rate for each specific type of property. The best maintained, most beautiful buildings won’t make you any money if there isn’t much demand to fill it. This may help you decide which kind of property to buy if you plan on renting it out full time, but it may also help you decide whether or not you want to list an extra room in your home. In San Francisco, private and small properties can do quite well, but larger properties or shared spaces might be a challenge to consistently book.

Crunching the Numbers

Revenue

There’s a lot of data available about revenue that is made through vacation rentals, but there’s one particular metric that is incredibly helpful. Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR) is a standard hotel industry metric that can be broken down on a weekly or daily basis. This helps you identify holiday or weekend spikes so you can raise your listed price to take advantage of the increased demand. You can also see where slower periods are and decide if a lower price would be more competitive when compared with other listings in your area.

Average Daily Rate

Average Daily Rate information will show the actual price a property type was rented for, not just the price it was listed at, so it’s a much better standard on which to base your own pricing. You may see studios in San Diego listed for $150 per night, but if the stats show people are only willing to spend $100 per night, you may want to consider adjusting your prices.

 

Pro Tip: It’s important to note that the number of occupants has a strong effect on your profit, so simple solutions like adding air mattresses or cots to a 1-bedroom apartment to accommodate additional guests is a great way to make extra money.

 

Fees, Policies, and Amenities

This is where you can really set your vacation rental apart from the others. While most of the information available to you is very dependent on the particular kind of property you own or its exact location (which may not be something you have much control over), various fees, policies, and amenities can be game changers when it comes to maximizing your profit.

In general, most vacation rental data services suggest it’s best to simply reduce fees and deposits as much as possible, aside from cleaning fees. Your guests are already planning to spend a lot on their vacation, so offering them opportunities to save money by not requiring expensive deposits or extra charges can make your listing much more attractive.

 

Pro Tip: Policies concerning minimum stays, instant booking, and cancellations can have a large impact on your occupancy rate. To be a consistent top performing property, offer minimum stay lengths of just a night or two. These policies can always be extended during peak periods to take advantage of an increased demand. Instant booking is another tool that allows you to appear more often on vacation rental reservation sites. However, while minimizing fees is important, it’s also necessary to be strict on cancellations. Last-minute cancellations can ruin your chances of filling a room and shrink your profitability.

 

The amenities you offer can also make or break your occupancy rate. Things like wifi and a kitchen with basic tools are essentially standard. Offering properties without them is extremely inadvisable. By contrast, if you have a gym or pool available or are willing to host guests with pets, you will likely be providing something rather unique for your area.

 

The information we’ve discussed can be pretty detailed and descriptive, but vacation rental data services still offer more. Reports generally include stats on topics such as host responsiveness and experience and detailed ratings of properties. AirDNA is definitely our #1 pick, though other popular services include InsideAirBNB and the official AirBNB data archives.

 

Now that you’ve got all the information and know-how, you can start working on easy, practical solutions to raise your occupancy rates and boost your profits. Once you’ve made the most of your stat reports, schedule an appointment with MaidThis! for a worry-free cleaning and start getting the most out of your vacation rental!

Clean my
Vacation Rental


single-blog-sidebar-vacation-rental
  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved