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Sarasota named top spring break location

As the area continues to grapple with affordable housing, short-term rentals are on the rise.

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A new report backs up what you are likely seeing on busy roads, on lines at Publix and waiting to get in a restaurant: The region is busy. 

In one example, of nearly 5,000 active rentals in Sarasota, the median occupancy rate, as determined by AirDNA, a vacation rental research firm, is up to 82%. The data shows the occupancy rate in September 2021 was at 53%. Comparably, Tampa has 4,509 active rentals with a median occupancy rate of 77%. In March, the monthly rate in Tampa was 87% in terms of occupied rentals. 

“These numbers are higher than they were pre-pandemic,” says Pam Knudsen, an executive of lodging at Avalara, a tax compliance software used by Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway, as well as other vacation rental platforms. “People are anxious to get out.” 

Knudsen suggests the recent boom in short-term rentals is a result of high demand for spring break as evidenced by the March occupancy rates. Sarasota was listed as one of the top destinations for this year’s spring break vacations, according to AirDNA data

“There’s pent-up demand to get out and have fun,” she says. “One of the things the pandemic showed us is that we can work or school from anywhere. It opened up an avenue for people to travel.”
That demand is causing vacationers to secure a spot with rentals even further in advance than normal. Knudsen is seeing rentals book up well over six months out. 

For places like Sarasota to see a boom in short-term rentals, it's curious what impact it will have on the already ongoing affordable housing crisis the area is experiencing. 

In order to thrive from an economic boom short-term rentals provide, Knudsen says a community has to strike a balance so that housing for residents isn’t affected. It’s a question of, “how can we still gain economic benefits for the community and still provide for people who live here,” she says. “It’s critical that people take that holistic view.”

A few communities she’s seen become successful in this notion haven't banned or ended short-term rentals. Instead, the communities require a permit to be purchased with the funding to go toward affordable housing. 


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