The problem: UNlicensed rental companies stealing peoples' money because it's a cakewalk.
One solution: Make it a crime* in Tennessee to operate an overnight lodging service business without a license.
Then, we tighten up the license laws and see if Dolly will write and record a public relations commercial ('specially since she has a vested interest in this stuff, now, and for some reason Dollywood even got a VLS license even though Starr Crest already has one).
The jingle could go something like this:
Come on back!We've cleaned up our act!Don'tcha know we've made it so'syou won't get ripped or gyped or hosed.Forgive us for our slip ~We didn't mean to let 'em dip ~It seemed OK back then, you seebut now we've stopped that big parteeeeee!
Dolly might do better with the music than the blue grass tune in my head. It will take a bit to get the word out about Tennessee's accepting responsibility to create laws and rules that PROTECT the public ~ not open up loopholes for thievery.
Tightening up the license law is a different matter. May i wholeheartedly start the list of things that would help everyone ~ the licensees included:
A) Let's find a middle ground for what companies should be doing with their escrow.
We could have a great compromise that allows the companies to draw down one-third of their escrow deposits. So, it's the best of both worlds. The companies don't have to feel like they're starving in a bakery, and the guests and owners don't have to worry about the company legally spending all the money and then folding.
The auditing process will be an entire blog post on it's own. I intend to take the Tennessee Real Estate Commission to task (Surprise!) over their current auditing process, with suggestions for how to make it better, easier, and how to deal with the 'Great Compromise'.
B) Bond the rental companies. And make 'em display the bond number.
This was the intent when TCA 62-13-104 was amended in 1998 to include vacation lodging service businesses. Of the three proposed amendments, the first one required licensed company to procure and proclaim a $50,000 bond. Amendment #1 failed to become part of Public Chapter 881, but the other two passed. Amendment #2 became the new paradigm for rental companies and Amendment #3 gave it six months to be promulgated.
Maybe Amendment #1 to SB3310 was ahead of it's time. Maybe now's the time.
There aren't too many solutions for unlicensed rental companies. However, the A+ American Vacation boys would have had to think twice about giving Tennessee a bloody nose to go along with that black eye if they had to get a bond.
Sure, crooks and liars could fake a bond number on their Homeaway.com advertising, but it's a different internet today than it was in 1998 - so maybe everybody's bond number has to link off to an official site (similiar to the licensee list on the right) where the bond AND license can be verified. Or a toll-free number underneath the bond number... i know you get my non-rocket-scientist mind's drift.
Would the likes of Steve Lear and Scott Adams (the A+ boys) had a more difficult time preparing for their scheme if they'd had to get a bond to be believed? If A+ did have a bond would there be fewer totally screwed sad folks today?
If you're a traveling or vacation property owning Tennessean, help me - i'm begging you! Help me peck away at Representatives Montgomery and McCord, and Senator Overbey (and your OWN legislators) unti their sense of what's right overcomes their sense of donation pockets.
And to all of our friends in the family of states, who love the short drive into what's basically an opulant Canadian biosphere ~ please come back. Ask questions when you book. I've taught you how it's supposed to be and you can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you're not sure. Check out your rental company (you'll find a list of licensees to the right) and please, thoroughly enjoy your stay.
*Okay. I know it's already a crime in Tennessee to operate an overnight rental company without a license. The problem is no one at the state level seems to know this.