Airbnbs require government oversight

In his 5 July letter, Ed Timberlake wisely cautioned that the county is not prepared for wide approval of Airbnb applications. He was primarily concerned with unsuitable tenants, absent vetting by owners. There is another aspect that is lacking.

There are no standards and no process for ensuring that given standards would be met. One of the key functions of any government is to ensure the health and safety of its citizens. Travelers staying at facilities in the county must be confident that their personal health and safety will be secure. Standards are available in diverse sites that could be referenced in a comprehensive set of standards for the county.

Ideally, an outside organization would inspect any B&B applicant prior to submission of the application to ensure that all applicable standards have been met. When the application reaches the BOS, there would be a certification from this organization that, for example, the facility has a landline phone, fire alarms are operable, those preparing food have a food manager’s certificate, employees have background checks, etc., etc., etc. This certification would require renewal every three years, which could correspond to the county’s licensure process.

I have many years of experience working in a similar system for the healthcare industry. The Joint Commission’s standards are based on Medicare’s requirements for participation and incorporate standards from the National Fire Prevention Association, as well as state and local standards for food and water safety, handicap parking, etc.

Such a system could work for the lodging industry in the county and would greatly simplify the application and renewal process while ensuring an exemplary level of safety for visitors.

Robert Burney
Sperryville

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