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Councilmember McDuffie Introduces Bill to Cut Down on Airbnb Abuse in DC

by Nena Perry-Brown

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An Airbnb listing near L’Enfant Plaza

This morning, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie introduced a bill that will create regulatory mechanisms for individuals who want to rent their residence for fewer than 30 days at a time on services like Airbnb.

The bill would create a separate license category for short-term rentals and place oversight under the purview of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). Anyone who wishes to list their home as a short-term rental would have to apply for this new category license, keep and maintain records and abide by DCRA requirements and inspections.

Under the bill, any host of a short-term rental would have to be a permanent resident of the listed dwelling unit and also have verifiable DC residency. Hosts would be limited to listing one unit and would have to be present while the home is rented. A vacation rental option would also be created for stays of up to 15 days without the host being present.

Rental hosting platforms would also be held accountable for cooperating with the regulations. Services like Airbnb would be required to request the basic business license (BBL) number from hosts, verify its validity and post said number on the unit’s advertisement.

The “Short-term Rental Regulation and Affordable Housing Protection Act of 2017” was motivated by the desire to ensure that affordable housing stock is maintained — especially in light of the recent discovery of a rent-controlled apartment building in Columbia Heights where nearly every unit was being occupied by short-term guests.

DC already requires anyone who hosts their home for short-term rentals to attain a BBL or, in some cases, a home occupation permit; however, these rules are intended to lend more structure to the short-term rental system and strengthen DCRA’s ability to inspect, identify potential abuses of the provision, subpoena records from hosts and hosting platforms, enforce civil penalties and shut down illegal rentals.

“The city lacks a coherent regulatory scheme for short-term rental housing, allowing bad actors to take those units off the housing market,” said Councilmember McDuffie in a statement. “It is time to create a clear, enforceable legal framework so that those who are exploiting the lack of regulations are stopped, and those who want to practice responsible home sharing can come into the light.”

Any fines collected from illegal short-term rentals would be split 50-50 between the General Fund and the Housing Protection Trust Fund; there will be a grace period of 120 days to allow anyone currently listing their dwellings to comply in the event that the bill becomes law.

See other articles related to: kenyan mcduffie, dc city council, airbnb illegal, airbnb dc, airbnb

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/councilmember_mcduffie_introduces_bill_to_cut_down_on_airbnb_abuse_in_dc/12104

2 Comments

  1. mattopp said at 9:49 pm on Thursday February 2, 2017:

    I can understand the need to regulate Air BNB. What a lot of people don’t understand is Air BNB allows people to stay in locations / neighborhoods they would not have the chance to stay in otherwise. It also increases tourism by allowing people to travel more affordably and for longer durations than they would if they were staying in hotel. It’s also just plain fun and more adventurous to travel using Air BNB as the sky is your limit with your accommodations verse a big box brand hotel or even one of their iterations like the Unbound Collection by Hyatt…. give me a break is this really going to allow you to experience a neighborhood like staying in someone’s home? Boring and generic.

    Also the whole affordability argument, although relevant with multifamily properties in which multiple rooms are rented is almost entirely irrelevant with single family houses where it increases affordability for the owner. I Airbnb my personal house and a lot of the times I am not staying there (but traveling)  and would be in violation of the law if the proposed ruling went through but I would not be able to afford my mortgage and current lifestyle without AirBNB.

    My proposal:

    1. Eliminate all Air BNB’s in multifamily properties >2 units (would still be allowed in a 2 family flat. Majority of these houses are not going to be used in affordable housing.

    2. Put in place a neighborhood system where if a certain listing get’s 3 strikes for being un-neighborly it is taken down.

    3. Add another tax on top of the hotel tax to go to the affordable housing fund.

    Let the free markets work and allow people different travel options and the ability to experience all neighborhoods.

  1. AbD said at 1:42 pm on Friday February 3, 2017:

    This is a terrible idea. Very few hotel rooms accommodate families comfortably and affordably especially in this city. AirBnB fills that gap. Doing this will harm tourism in DC. The most effective ways to address the lack of affordable housing in the city would be to reform the tenant laws so that landlords can more easily evict people who fail to pay rent, and reduce the barriers to new construction (cut out the red tape on permitting). Both of these would increase supply across the for-sale and for-rent markets in DC, which would drive prices down over the long term (sustainably, and without costing the city a dime)

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