Pennsylvania Applies Outdated Licenses To Airbnb, Ends Up In Court

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By making it easy to connect, online platforms like Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO have greatly expanded the short-term rental industry. In addition to bringing new properties to the short-term rental market, increased connectivity also creates more business for older vacation rental properties.

This boom has led to a greater need for property managers like Sally Ladd. Sally has a background in digital marketing, which served her well when she decided to advertise two of her cottages for rent in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. As she saw success, people around her took notice. Soon, Sally’s friends and neighbors in the area were asking her to post availabilities for their properties, too. Though she lives in New Jersey, Sally used short-term rental websites (including one that she built herself) to find her Pennsylvania clients new customers and increase their earnings. She also used these platforms to create rental schedules, set prices, and handle inquiries.

Her business was thriving until she received an ominous call from Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs. A representative informed her that she was being investigated for practicing real estate illegally and that if she wanted to continue running her modest business, she would need to obtain a real estate broker’s license. In the following interview, Sally explains why she thought this demand was so out-of-line that she took the State of Pennsylvania to court to fight for her right to earn a living.