V.I. Agencies Collaborate To Regulate Private Vacation Room Rental Operation

ST. JOHN ­— The Commissioners of Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs and the Department of Tourism along with the Director of the Bureau of Internal Revenue recently met to discuss the regulation of vacation room rentals in the Virgin Islands and collection of associated room taxes.

The industry, which is quickly growing in the V.I., is estimated at nearly $25 billion in the United States alone. Including Europe that figure grows into the $85 billion dollar range, according to government figures. The industry includes villas, timeshares, condominiums, and bed and breakfast as well as hotel room rentals.

While there is currently no legislation in the Virgin Islands Code that regulates the industry in a holistic manner, the agency heads said they see the need to apprise stakeholders and interested parties in the industry of their obligations under existing Virgin Islands law.

Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Devin Carrington stated that individuals and entities involved in vacation room rentals must apply in writing to and obtain from the Commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs the proper license to engage in or conduct such business. Licensure is but part of the larger scheme of proper regulation of the industry for the benefit of the consumer, said Carrington.

Non-compliance is a violation that shall result in a citation, the commissioner stated.

Director Marvin Pickering of the Bureau of Internal Revenue reminds stakeholders and interested parties of the obligation to pay a hotel room occupancy tax as well as income and gross receipt taxes on rental income as required by statute. Hotels, villas, timeshare owners and any one else renting any lodging for a period of less than 90 days, are all reminded that the hotel room tax is 10 percent of that room rental.

Nicohlson Doty stated that compliance with the obligation for a business license only accrues to the benefit of the industry as a whole as proper regulation of the industry helps ensure that our visitors enjoy a most memorable experience in the Virgin Islands.

Proper regulation of accommodations can only translate into a more rich and rewarding stay and the prospect of a return visit or word of mouth new visitors, stated the commissioner.
The commissioner also reminded vacation room rental stakeholders and interested partie that the hotel room tax, which is deposited into the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund, is used exclusively for advertising the Virgin Islands as a tourist destination.