David Krauss is the Co-Founder and CEO of Rent Responsibly where he leads a passionate team creating the short-term rental industry’s first community-building and education platform. David has been an STR owner and manager since 2012 and was honored by Airbnb in 2019 as one of the longest-tenured Superhosts in the world. Early in his hosting journey, an incident with loud partying guests inspired him to co-found NoiseAware, a “smoke detector for noise.” Through this work, he met thousands of passionate STR stakeholders with an interest in building a stronger community, getting better access to education and having their voices heard. In 2019, he decided to take the lead in building the platform that he too wishes he had when he started hosting. That platform is Rent Responsibly. We know our interview with David will inspire our members to begin uniting together and join their community.
You have quite a history in real estate and in the short term rental space. Tell us about your background and what inspired you to co-found Rent Responsibly?
I am proud to call myself a “accidental rentalpreneur” like many of the HostGPO readers who also have helped to build the STR space. My first job out of college was at one of the largest commercial real estate companies in the US doing on-site property management in Boston. I learned a ton about the nuts and bolts of buildings and how to keep people happy on a day to day basis. I knew I was not long for corporate ladder climbing so I sought a more creative role which led me to a smaller, more dynamic real estate development company.
I quickly realized I could do much of what my boss was doing — just on a much smaller scale. In 2011 when I was 27, I started my own real estate development firm and named it after the street I grew up on and where I was living at the time (with my parents of course, being the millennial that I am). A few years and a few condo reno’s later, I put up my first short-term rental listing to cover my rent as I flew the coop to chase my girlfriend to her home state of Texas. I successfully covered my rent and discovered that short-term rentals combined my core passions — real estate, entrepreneurism, creativity, and meeting interesting people. I knew I had found my calling and was hooked for life.
Can you give us the rundown on what Rent Responsibly does?
In short, Rent Responsibly is the community building and education platform for local short-term rental alliances. Most of our team are either former-short-term rental hosts, managers, short-term rental alliance leaders or both. On a daily basis, we are meeting with short-term rental owners, hosts and managers, providing support to the volunteers who have raised their hand to lead their STR community. We collaborate with them and our industry partners to build education tools, build out local STR alliances to unite the community and the reliant small businesses that power our industry. We listen to those local leaders, help them tell their stories and work on projects that will improve their community.
Like us here at HostGPO, you know how important it is for hosts to unite under one tent with one goal. That being said, can you explain to our members why it is so important to unite under a tent like Rent Responsibly?
It is important to unite the STR community because we are all problem solvers by nature, we just have trouble finding each other! Each of us had to figure out or invent the solutions that worked for us to enable what we do. When we are united and able to connect and collaborate with our peers, I believe our community will be a driving force for solving big challenges well beyond what we face today. You can call me biased, but I strongly believe that the STR community has the highest concentration of innovative, hard working, community-focused, passionate people of any industry on the planet. I don’t think it is possible to predict just how impactful it will be when we bring fellow hosts together. We are already neighbors, all essentially doing the same thing as other hosts in our towns; the faster we become connected, the brighter the future will be.
HostGPO is partnering with Rent Responsibly on a big survey. What is the purpose of the survey and what are you hoping to learn through this / use it for?
The State of the STR Community Survey has been a project I’ve wanted to do for years. Since our community has grown so quickly, there is a dearth of data about who we are, why we host, the economic and employment impacts of short-term rentals, and the challenges that hosts face when trying to understand rules and regulations. The survey that I hope everyone reading will take (Click here to take the Survey!) is part two of the study. The first part was conducted by the College of Charleston Riley Center for Livable Communities focused on asking city administrators what challenges they face with respect to short-term rentals. We will be using the results of this research project to educate the world about who we are, but also to help us build effective tools to help hosts and cities make things easier for all parties. It’s a dream project and much needed!
What is your favorite story to tell about Rent Responsibly helping forge an alliance and therefore saving the day?
My favorite moments are when the local STR community leaders we work with recognize that they are able to help dispel myths about our community simply by introducing themselves and telling their own story. There is no training required to tell your own story and the stories of the people who make up the short-term rental community are important. Specifically, my favorite stories to date are in our #FindTheHelpers series on our website. These were the stories of hosts stepping up to accommodate front-line workers, traveling nurses, family members that needed private space away from elderly relatives etc. Many people don’t know this but 1 out of 2 hosts gave housing to non-leisure guests directly impacted by Covid-19. This included first responders, essential workers, isolations, stranded students and families of medical patients. These stories were emblematic of the hospitality gene that we all have as hosts. When the hosting community opens up their doors to neighbors and “helpers” in times of need, those are my favorite stories.
Do you always stay in vacation rental units and if so, what do you look for when booking?
I have a pretty simple rule: if traveling over 3 nights or with 3 or more people, I stay in STRs. If it’s less than 3 nights, I’m in a hotel. When booking, I look for great views and/or quirky options like tiny homes and such. It’s all about experiencing a place in a way that is completely different from my day to day life.
What is the biggest problem you see in the STR industry today? What do you think can be done to fix it?
Disconnection. There are hundreds of thousands of hosts around the country that are very good at connecting with guests, but we have trouble connecting with each other. That is the challenge we are solving at the most basic level.
Anything else you’d like to share about Rent Responsibly?
Rent Responsibly was founded because my co-founder Alexa Nota and I realized that connecting the short-term rental community was a “no fail mission.” We both had the passion to dedicate ourselves to that mission and we shook hands in agreement that failure was not an option. Our mission is to build a sustainable future for short-term rentals in every community. This is a people-based mission so if you’d like to be a part of it, first, take the survey (link here) and then reach out to us. We’d love to meet you!