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Holiday rental host launches petition calling for rethink of fees

Extra fees on residents using their homes for vacation rentals have been challenged in an online petition.

The change.org post by Eugenie Simmons-Vidal had racked up 164 of its target 200 signatures as of 9pm tonight.

The move for an annual fee, defended by tourism minister Vance Campbell in the House of Assembly as a modest charge, is expected to bring in $500,000 annually for the public purse.

Under the legislation, to come into effect on April 1, properties with an annual rental value below $22,800 will pay $1,500 annually.

Those valued between $22,801 to $90,000 will pay $2,000 – with a $2,500 yearly fee for property valued at $90,001 and above.

The move was passed despite objections from the One Bermuda Alliance.

It incurred criticism from owners of the rentals, seen as a less expensive option for visitors to Bermuda.

Property owners also highlighted the continuing slump in Bermuda tourism, which was dealt a body blow by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms Simmons-Vidal’s post stated there was a misconception that “Bermuda vacation rental hosting is a lucrative business”.

“The fact is, for the majority, it is not. It is comprised primarily of older property owners who are attempting to defray the cost maintaining their properties on limited pension incomes.

“The money earned from vacation rentals is not making them rich or supporting lavish lifestyles.”

Ms Vidal said the real competition in Bermuda was not between local vacation rentals.

She said renters were up against “the global vacations rental market in other places where travellers can rent similar size units with same amenities (linens, toiletries, complimentary items) for about half the cost of a vacation rental unit in Bermuda”.

Ms Vidal claimed the extra fees could take a 27 per cent bite out of rental host revenue.

“There is no other business or industry paying this percentage of revenue on its gross earnings,” she wrote.

“This added licensing fee therefore is unjust to Bermuda’s vacation rental hosts and must be revoked immediately as it will put many vacation hosts out of business, remove critical vacation rental units from the market in the face of insufficient hotel beds in the upcoming tourism season, and has the potential to cost additional tax money to implement and to police.”

She added: “If the Bermuda Government is seeking revenue, it should consider increasing the existing vacation rental tax by 0.5 per cent.”

Mr Campbell assured MPs during the March 24 debate in the House that the move would not cut down the number of vacation rentals on the island.

The minister said: “We believe these fees are nor exorbitant, nor are they prohibitive.”

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Published March 31, 2023 at 7:47 am (Updated March 31, 2023 at 9:33 am)

Holiday rental host launches petition calling for rethink of fees

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