Prince George’s County Looks to Regulate Short-Term Rentals

by Nena Perry-Brown

Prince George's County Looks to Regulate Short-Term Rentals: Figure 1
A room for rent in Prince George's County.

Over the past few years, jurisdictions around the country have been grappling with how to balance the entry (and ballooning success) of Airbnb and other short-term rental marketplaces on the hospitality scene with the traditional hotel and lodging industry. Now, Prince George's County is joining those ranks.

Last week, Prince George's County Council's Committee of the Whole held a public hearing concerning two bills that would establish a regulatory framework for short-term rental services. The first ordinance defines short-term rentals and adds them to the zoning code as an allowable residential use; the second establishes the licensing and enforcement structure to legalize those rentals.

Under the proposed bills, a "short-term rental" would be defined as a residential dwelling unit or accessory building, in a residential, industrial or mixed-use zone, advertised to be rented for a period of no more than 30 consecutive days. Those rentals must be licensed and could also only be rented for a cumulative maximum of 90 days a year.

Hosts of short-term rentals would apply to be licensed by self-certifying that the accommodations meet various safety standards (eg. fire extinguisher, smoke detector, egress, etc.), as well as notifying neighbors that the home will be listed as a short-term rental. Rental platforms would be required to remit annual reports to the Department of Permitting, Inspections, and Enforcement (DPIE) in order for DPIE to ascertain whether a host is in compliance; DPIE would also reserve the right to inspect any accommodation.

Similar to legislation proposed or passed in other jurisdictions, legal short-term rentals would be restricted to owner-occupied properties to discourage investor speculation. Multiple committee members noted having heard from constituents that some short-term rental hosts are investors who purchase several condos for the sole purpose of listing them online.

The common refrain from the hosts who testified was that the 90-day time limit is excessive, often citing precarious financial circumstances that have led them to explore short-term renting. Compared to elsewhere in the DC area, P.G. County residents have seen their home equity disproportionately affected by the recession and slower to benefit from the rebound of the housing market.

"Both of the bills as written seek to restrict those of us who have found a creative way to dig ourselves out of those financial holes we've been in," testified resident and Airbnb host Liz Faison, whose mortgage is underwater. "Renting my property as a short-term rental has enabled me to keep my house." 

No vote was held on the bills, which the committee intends to continue considering over the coming months.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/pg-county-takes-on-short-term-rentals/14222

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