What Keeps You Up At Night?

4am. Thanksgiving Morning. Fair Housing running through my mind.

Did you realize that as managers and agents for vacation rentals of more than four units, we are required to have real estate licenses? This, together with our membership of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a pledge of the Realtor Code of ethics, and a whole bunch of other stuff makes us REALTORS. As human beings, and also as human beings who’re Realtors, we’re bound by Federal and State Laws governing Equal Opportunity Housing.

Federal Position on Fair Housing, “Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act), as amended, prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and disability.”

Federal Law Fair Housing Law.

State of Delaware Position on Fair Housing, “This chapter is intended to eliminate, as to housing offered to the public for sale, rent or exchange, discrimination based upon race, color, national origin, religion, creed, sex, marital status, familial status, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability, and to provide an administrative procedure through which disputes concerning the same may effectively and expeditiously be resolved with fairness and due process for all parties concerned.”

State of Delaware Fair Housing Law.

Here in the offices of Seachange Vacation Rentals, our humanity dictates all of the above.

We’re known for our creative approach to business, especially when it comes to marketing. We like to set clear business goals, and we like to have fun. We like to think our sense of humor a little quirky, a little, ‘tongue in cheek,’ a nod to irony, playful perhaps. However, when it comes to Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing, we ain’t playin’ around. We take it very seriously.

During listing appointments, during our team marketing meetings, during a chat with the Press, even one of these forums, our own version of the, “Fireside Chat” we get asked a lot of things. Our job as the professional hired to manage and market your vacation property, or your vacation stay is to ensure that payment is received, the potential for property damage minimized and handled efficiently and fairly if it occurs, to ensure the highest standards of hospitality for guests. When we get asked, ‘those kind of questions’ that veer perilously close to Federal and State laws governing Fair Housing, we seek to understand the question behind the question. We counsel, we enforce Fair Housing. When, for example, we get the demand from a Property Owner that no renting to groups of unrelated people, or, “I only want to rent to seniors since they won’t trash my property” we seek to understand the real question, “Will my property get damaged?” “Do my guests have the financial means to cover their stay?”

And that my vacation friends is the real issue. That’s why you hire a professional. We cannot guarantee that a guest may decide that it’s a good idea to hand out flyers advertising a party at your property during their stay. We cannot guarantee that the hardwood floors may not get scratched, or the screen door broken; the hallway walls scuffed up by suitcases traveling the hallways with abandon. We cannot guarantee that damage is intentionally caused by disrespect for your property. What we can guarantee is that we have established sound business practices to manage your property as the investment you set out to make. Here’s where there’s homework for the Property Owner. As with anything in life there is risk attached. This is a conversation for a professionally licensed insurer (which we are not). What is the acceptable level of risk that you as a Property Owner is comfortable living with? Many footsteps through your property regardless of categories covered by Fair Housing laws, add up to wear and tear on your property. Is the cost of routine property maintenance and the retaining of a professional organization such as Seachange Vacation Rentals worth the reward of offering up your property for vacation rental? You decide. That’s your work. Our work is to manage the property for you to reduce the potential for, and facilitate the resolution of and risk that may actualize.

To the group who handed out flyers for a summer party at their weekly beach vacation rental. You are now legends in your own lunchtime. I don’t know if you’re an urban legend, or this actually happened. Other than adding a, “What were you thinking?” my job if I were the manager of the property directed by the property owner not to re-let the property to this group would be to say no to you next season. Not because of age, familial status, sexual orientation, or any ‘protected’ Fair Housing class. Because you did not respect the property during your stay. Gather at the suffrage of your neighbors a hundred plus guests on a humid summer evening at your own home. When you’re renting a charming beach cottage that belongs to someone else, then Dude, R.E.S.P.E.C.T, or get flagged for repeat business.

That’s all. Now maybe, just maybe I can grab a couple of hours shuteye before the turkey who bit the big one for us today hits the heat.

Happy Thanksgiving to ALL. Let’s make it a great vacation for everyone, including our generous property owners who care for our hospitality as much as we and they care for their properties.