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Proposed Legislation Would Heavily Regulate Airbnb Rentals in DC

by UrbanTurf Staff

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An Airbnb rental on Capitol Hill.

Hotel owners and employees are behind legislation aimed at heavily regulating Airbnb rentals in the District. The Washington Post’s Lydia DePillis reported on both proposed bills late Wednesday.

The first bill would restrict temporary rentals of apartments or houses if the owner isn’t present, and would also create a division within the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) to “oversee the District’s response to widespread or systematic conditions in the District, which threaten residents’ quality of life and demand special attention and to institute requirements for short-term rentals.” This bill has the backing of hotel worker union UNITE-HERE Local 25.

The second bill, backed by hotel owners, is less restrictive. It largely aims to prevent “superusers” or hosts that rent out several Airbnb units for business purposes. Both bills are sponsored by Councilmember Vincent Orange.

The regulation and legality of Airbnb rentals in DC is a topic that UrbanTurf has taken a close look at in recent years. The chart below was provided by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs in early 2014 when we asked what Airbnb hosts can do to avoid running afoul of city regulations. It is important to note that the information provided in the chart only covers the business and basic permits a person would need to avoid DCRA fines.

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See other articles related to: airbnb illegal, airbnb dc, airbnb

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/proposed_legislation_would_restrict_airbnb_rentals_in_dc/10375

4 Comments

  1. LionOfLeDroit said at 11:52 am on Thursday September 24, 2015:

    Reminds me of the regulated taxi industry’s attempt to curtail the spread of Uber and other ride-sharing services.  This type of reactionary legislation is short-sighted, blantantly self-serving and will ultimately fail, one way or another.  The economy is trending towards more, rather than less, informal sharing across all sectors. 

    If hotel owners were thinking strategically as to how to position themselves for long-term growth, they would do better by focusing on differentiating themselves from AirBnB rentals by putting out a high-quality product (i.e. focus on dependability, convenience and services), rather than attempting to stifle competition from mainly low-budget short-term rentals emanating from below.  There is more than enough short-term rental demand in DC for both hotel and AirBnB markets to thrive.

  1. anahita said at 4:48 pm on Thursday September 24, 2015:

    I have been a host as well as a guest- It is so much easier to stay at an airbnb travelling with family or a child that is hyper sensitive to dust and carpets, needs open windows and has nut allergy, so eating out is not an option- Not having that option or offering an option for people like me is unconstitutional. Which hotel or land lord is going to provide housing for the interns that are flowing to DC from September to December, as well as June to August. Hotels are great, people should have options- we can not turn away from new demands- there is definitely room for both businesses- lets just be civilized and understand the befit of airbnb specially for people with special needs.

  1. skidrowedc@gmail.com said at 5:12 pm on Thursday September 24, 2015:

    The hoteliers, like the cabbies, have a valid point that there’s a huge gulf in regulation.  They deal with mountains of it; the new “sharing economy” participants deal with very little (and are able to skirt the law much more effectively, too).  An imbalance is not unreasonable, provided that the “sharing economy” participants are doing just that—sharing, not owning places solely to rent out on Airbnb.  However, especially in this era of feedback and reviews, the thrust should be to REDUCE the regulations on the hotels and cabs, moreso than to increase regulations on Airbnb, Uber, and the like. 

    The union’s proposal is overt protectionist overkill, responding to a nonexistent problem. The idea that creating a new division at DCRA will solve anything is pure Barry-think.

    The hotel association’s proposal, in contrast, seems reasonable to me.  It merely limits the number of Airbnb lodgings that any one manager/owner can have to 5.  Maybe that number should be a little higher, but there is a threshold at which the operation is strictly a business, not part of the “sharing economy.”  As a business, such an operation should, rightly, have more oversight and regulation.

  1. dsync said at 7:14 pm on Thursday September 24, 2015:

    The hotel industry may be behind the push but as a homeowner in the district I am wholly in favor. I would rather people coming from the outside have to pay a bit more or forgo a few comforts rather than have to put up with noisy short-term rentals that disrupt the cohesiveness of the neighborhood.

    I’m also not particularly thrilled to be essentially paying taxes for initiatives to provide affordable housing and other services only to have that undermined. We have zoning for a reason…

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