Short-term rentals association changes tune on Portland after city votes on licenses

Short-term rentals association changes tune on Portland after city votes on licenses

airbnbapp.jpg
Airbnb’s mobile device application helps visitors connect with hosts willing to rent their rooms for a short duration. (Bloomberg News)

Mike Francis | The Oregonian/OregonLiveBy Mike Francis | The Oregonian/OregonLive
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on January 30, 2015 at 4:13 PM, updated January 30, 2015 at 4:16 PM

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Five months ago, the Travel Technology Association, a trade group that represents short-term rental companies, online travel platforms and others, seemed pleased with Portland’s efforts to come to grips with “the sharing economy.”

“The Portland City Council took an important first-step in addressing the need for proactive, and smart short-term rental regulations last Wednesday in voting to legalize short-term rentals in single-family primary homes,” read an Aug. 19 post on the association’s blog.“Travel Tech supports the efforts of the city council to work towards crafting smart regulations that protect travelers and promote the peer-to-peer economy in Oregon.”

To be sure, the association went on to scold the council for not moving faster to accept short-term rentals in condos, apartments and vacation homes, but expressed hope about the prospect that would change.

But in a newsletter circulated Friday, the association had soured on Portland’s approach to short-term rentals.

“Portland passes dangerous new STR amendments,” reads the lead headline.

The August rules governing short-term rentals of single-family homes were “hastily crafted and difficult to decipher,” says the association. As a consequence, the city started amending the rules this month.

The amended rules, which require Airbnb and other platforms that broker short-term rentals to collect taxes, ensure that hosts are licensed and permit the city to request listing information from companies are “overreaching,” according to the association.

Travel Tech says it will continue to encourage Portland policymakers “to embrace fair and reasonable regulations that will result in a positive outcome for the city, owners and hosts, as well as travelers.”

After approving short-term rentals last summer, city leaders have expressed dismay at the low rate of compliance with the city’s licensing requirement. Because more than 90 percent of short-term rental hosts apparently haven’t sought licenses, the city passed rules this month to enforce the provision. Among them: the right to request noncompliant host’s names and locations from brokerage companies.

Airbnb and others have argued that they shouldn’t be required to enforce local rules.

-Mike Francis

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