We Fought Restrictive Local Hosting Laws (and Won) (Episode 339)

Tips for Amending Strict Short-Term Rental Laws in Your Community

Today’s expert guests are Bob and Callie Karlen. A husband-and-wife investing team, they currently house hack their primary residence near Minneapolis, own and operate Bigwater Cove – their STR cabin in Northern MN – and are hoping to scale their portfolio in 2024 in the commercial boutique motel space in the near future. 

Following last week’s informative discussion covering a painful acquisition process that didn’t quite work out, we talk to Bob and Callie about their own emotionally charged short-term rental rollercoaster – only this time, we get a (mostly) happy ending. 

Off and running with their new Minnesota-based vacation rental cabin, Bob and Callie received the kind of letter that sends shivers up your spine. They were operating without a license. To complicate things further, they learned their address was located in a township, not the city in the sale listing that they’d done deep STR homework on.

They didn’t give up. In fact, they teamed up to bring their case to the planning commission and, over months and months, affect positive change in their community. We can’t wait for you to hear this riveting success story, and hope it inspires other hosts to fight for their own right to rent responsibly. 

(00:01:28) #STRShareSunday: @thewanderstay

  • Tips for partnering with influencers 
  • Creating evergreen content 
  • Learn about and prioritize SEO best practices 

(00:03:41) Doing Their Homework to Purchase a Vacation Cabin

  • Introduction to Bob and Callie’s STR story 
  • First step – motel or single family home?
  • Reviewing the numbers on their first cabin purchase 
  • Relying on their spreadsheet and data tools 
  • Getting started with healthy occupancy rates in January 

(00:09:45) STR Licensing Issues: A Letter From the Planning Commision

  • Dissecting the lapse: what went wrong?
  • Importance of vetting an informed agent 
  • Learning their address was tied to a township vs. city 
  • How a positive review triggered the madness 
  • Learning the township’s strict STR limitations 

(00:17:18) Now What? Amending the Ordinance 

  • Partnering in passion for positive change
  • How they got licensed 
  • Channeling Leslie Knope in the boardroom
  • Research and preparation for the argument  

(00:26:38) Callie’s Vacation Rental PowerPoint Presentation to the Township

  • What they heard from the community
  • Leveraging their story and highlighting guest experience 
  • Setting the scene of their business 
  • Detailing their two-option proposal 
  • Noise Aware (use code TFVNA20 for 20% off)

(00:29:25) The Painstaking Process of Changing STR Legislation 

  • Dealing with a devastating lack of progress at the planning commission
  • Spending a weekend to provide the research themselves  
  • A frustrating April meeting with the township 
  • A public hearing, seven months later, to decide it all
  • Preparing to speak to a different audience 
  • Recruiting a support team with impact statements  

(00:43:54) Successfully Lobbying for Your Right to Rent

  • Results of their fateful public hearing on short-term renting 
  • Building trust and reputation in the community
  • How their business has rebounded since the offtime 
  • Annette spins the bookings limit into a positive 

(00:46:45) Update on Required Noise Monitoring Technology 

  • Guest reactions to the mandated noise rules
  • One example of when both parties were alerted to high noise levels

(00:48:22) Mindset Tips for Overcoming Restrictive STR Legislation

  • Considering the solutions, first and foremost 
  • Conduct transparent and open dialogue with city officials 
  • Finding power in a support team 
  • Value in not losing a piece of the profits 
  • Applying their lessons to a motel project

Download a transcript of this episode.




This week, the #STRShareSunday spotlight shines on scenic Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. @TheWanderStay is a group of unique and cozy luxury cabins. These hosts KNOW their audience and have thought of everything – there are saunas, hot tubs, fireplaces, air hockey tables, and plenty of property for outdoor adventuring.

We would love to feature YOU, so don’t forget to use #STRShareSunday to get your chance!

Together, Annette & Sarah are the dynamic duo behind the wildly popular podcast Thanks For Visiting, co-creators of the Hosting Business Mastery Method, & seasoned short-term-rental hosts.

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