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DC Council Passes Short-Term Rental Regulatory Bill

by Nena Perry-Brown

The saga of short-term rental regulation in the District has almost come to a close.

On Tuesday afternoon, the DC Council unanimously passed the Short-term Rental Regulation and Affordable Housing Protection Act of 2018. The bill would grant the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs purview over the short-term rental industry (for which Airbnb has become the face) and require hosts to acquire permits for these rentals, enabling hosts to list any number of rentals in their primary residences for an unlimited number of days while the host is present and no more than 90 days when they are not.

Prior to the final vote, Council Chair Phil Mendelson introduced four amendments, three of which were clarifications of the bill's content; the final amendment stated that homes where short-term rentals take place can still qualify for the Homestead Deduction. The four amendments passed unanimously. 

Two amendments Mendelson introduced speak to the issue of how enforcement of the bill would be funded, a question which largely motivated last month's delayed vote. Both amendments offered two options on how to carry funding out, one of which would require the Council to wait on action from the Zoning Commission to permit short-term rentals in residential zones. The Council approved an amendment which would instead fund enforcement and offset lost revenue by using excess revenue the Council recently identified.

Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd also introduced an amendment which would raise the time limit from 90 to 120 days a year for hosts sharing their principal dwellings when not on the premises; this amendment did not pass. However, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen introduced an amendment (with five co-sponsors) to allow hosts to apply for an exemption to the 90-day cap if they can prove they must work outside of the city for more than 90 days a year or need to leave the city to care for a family member with a serious health issue.

"This [amendment] will be administratively difficult to enforce with integrity; in fact, it will probably be enforced by DCRA the same way they enforce everything else, including the zoning regulations regarding short-term rentals," Mendelson stated, requesting that the amendment be introduced as a separate bill in the next legislative session. The amendment ultimately passed; a friendly amendment from Allen and co-sponsors prohibiting hosts from giving Visitor Parking Permits to guests was also added to the language.

Councilmember Todd introduced a second amendment for "plus-ones", which would permit hosts to list their principal dwellings, plus an additional unit elsewhere. Following retorts by Mendelson and Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyon McDuffie, this amendment also failed to pass. 

The new regulations go into effect on October 1, 2019, assuming the mayor signs the bill and it passes a 30-day Congressional review period.

See other articles related to: short-term rental, dc council, airbnb dc, airbnb

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dc-council-passes-short-term-rental-regulatory-bill/14691

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