Hoteliers reiterate: Classify short-term rentals as commercial activity
By The Star Staff
The chairman of the Puerto Rico Hotels and Tourism Association board of directors, Miguel Vega, said Tuesday that the organization supports classifying short-term rentals as commercial activity under House Bill 1557.
Likewise, Vega called for the measure to include elements to combat the proliferation of illegal hotels and to require that the internet platforms through which the properties are rented maintain a presence in Puerto Rico to attend to emergencies and ensure that the destination is not affected.
Concerned about the turn taken by the discussion on the regulation of short-term rentals, Vega maintained that the organization he represents has demanded for the past 10 years that the sector be regulated as a commercial activity.
“Now there are those who want short-term rentals not to do in Puerto Rico what they already have done in other jurisdictions. Registering as a commercial activity, obtaining a license to do business, an insurance policy, certification from the fire department, some contact to attend to emergencies, among others, are things that short-term rental platforms already do,” Vega said. “Why are you willing to do it in other jurisdictions, but not in Puerto Rico? What is the justification for demanding more from a 6-room bed and breakfast than from a 15-, 20- or 50-unit short-term rental operation?”
Vega noted that the Permits Management Office (OGPE by its Spanish acronym) defended the classification of short-term rentals as a commercial activity in public hearings.
“’Any place where the short-term supplementary accommodation service is being offered would be considered for the purposes of OGPE as a commercial activity, regardless of the area of the property that is being occupied’ -- that is verbatim what OGPE raised in its brief before the House of Representatives,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vega made a call to strengthen the bill by including an express prohibition against illegal hotels. For the PRHTA, a building with more than six units must be treated under the same requirements as a hostel or “bed and breakfast,” otherwise, “in addition to having an improper advantage, it ends up being an illegal hotel.”