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DC Council Votes to Move Forward with Amended Airbnb Bill

by Nena Perry-Brown

DC Council Votes to Move Forward with Amended Airbnb Bill: Figure 1
The property formerly known as Mount Vernon Triangle Bed and Breakfast. Click to enlarge.

Last week, UrbanTurf reported on DC Council's latest attempt at a bill to regulate use of Airbnb and similar short-term rental platforms in the city. Today, the Council voted to move that bill forward.

As currently written, the “Short-term Rental Regulation and Affordable Housing Protection Act of 2017” will ban DC residents from renting out second homes on Airbnb and similar services. The bill would also limit the number of days that a primary residence could be rented while the owner is not present to 90 days annually. 

An amendment proposed by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen to raise the maximum from 90 to 120 days for homeowners renting out their primary residence when they are not present failed to pass muster. "There is some data out there that suggests that, when you get beyond that 90-day point, it really incentivizes commercialization," Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie stated in response to the amendment. "It incentivizes people to take long-term housing off the long-term rental market in favor of more lucrative short-term housing." Allen ended up voting for the bill while expressing hope to continue negotiating with the other councilmembers to seek areas of compromise prior to the second reading and final vote later this month.

Several glaring instances of short-term rentals leeching apartments off the market have been observed over the past few years, from a residential community's fight to stay open while cracking down on illegal rental activity to Attorney General Karl Racine's pursuit of companies operating "apartels" (apartments-as-hotels).

Although some councilmembers (Brianne Nadeau and Brandon Todd, in particular) noted their and their constituents' desire to be able to list a second unit for short-term rental, Nadeau cited the urgency of needing to enact a regulatory structure to prevent abuse of short-term rentals for profit as her reasoning for voting for the legislation.

"For me, it's not about restricting families who are trying to make ends meet, trying to make a bit of extra cash," Nadeau stated. "But there are commercial entities in this city that are taking advantage of the fact that we don't have regulations in place right now." Airbnb has released studies noting the prevalence of seniors and teachers using the service to supplement their incomes.

Following the Council vote, Airbnb released the following statement:

“Today, the DC Council voted to put the interests of the hotel cartel ahead of DC residents, and according to the city's own projections creates a $96 million unfunded mandate and robs DC’s communities of color of $25 million annually in supplemental income. There’s a better way forward and we are ready and willing to work with the Council between now and October 16th to create rules that work."

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dc-council-votes-to-move-forward-with-amended-airbnb-bill/14520

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