KISSIMMEE – Imagine you decide to operate a vacation home, and it all sounds so very simple.
You find the owner of a beautiful house in Central Florida, a property that’s fully furnished, has multiple bedrooms and a private pool, and is in close proximity to the major theme parks, and you make it available to rent on a short term basis to tourists. Considering that a lot of families come to this region and would probably enjoy renting a house that provides all the comforts of home, it sounds like a great business to operate in this tourism Mecca.
But before you open one, ask yourself this question: what is it that vacation home property managers are required — by law — to provide to guests in the bathrooms?
“What must you supply in every bathroom?” asked David Leather, who operates Hayes Vacation Home Rentals in Kissimmee, a vacation home property management firm.
“A bar of soap? Two towels per person? Both?” he asked.
If a vacation home property manager doesn’t have the answer, Leather said, they need to learn – and fast – because all managers have rules and regulations that exist, and that they need to be aware of, to read about, and to follow. If not, the properties they manage will be in violation of those rules,
If too many vacation homes fall into that sorry category, Leather said, the entire industry can end up with a black eye.
As Leather noted, even a pool cleaning service has a long list of regulations that its workers need to know about and strictly obey.
“Our job is far more complicated than cleaning a pool every week,” he said.
Leather is the past president of the trade group that represents vacation home property managers, the Central Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association. He’s also the chairman of a special committee that’s spent more than a year developing a certification program for the CFVRMA members, as an exam available through the association’s Web site, http://cfvrma.com/.
Leather helped create a similar certification program in England, where he was born and raised, before he relocated to Florida to start a vacation home business here.
The CFVRMA spent most of last year drafting the on-line exam, which went live in January. It also serves as an educational course for people working in this field, who may not be aware of every rule, regulation, code and requirement that the state or county governments expect them to follow.
“If you have 59 homes that you manage, we all know you need to have hearing impaired smoke detectors,” he said. “But how many do we need for 59 homes?”
Again, he said, if the members don’t know the answer, they need to log on to the online course.
Once the members take the exam and pass it, they become fully certified in the field.
Although the exam is voluntary, An Flamand, the current president of the association, is urging all members to take it. For one thing, she said, it helps demonstrate the professionalism of those working in this field.
“We really do want our industry to be certified, where every member will be certified,” she said. “That is our goal.”
“We should have some sort of formal certificate license,” Leather agreed. “The certification course is now available on the Web site. There is no reason why our members should not start it.”
It’s also worth starting this process, Flamand said, because it enables members to check out the CFVRMA’s newly designed Web site, which is about to be up and running, and which she said is going to provide a lot more information for the industry than it has in the past.
“I really wanted it to have a more professional look,” Flamand said.
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