Afternoon Jolt

New Council Proposal Would Ban Future Airbnb Hosts from Renting at Secondary Properties

Burgess scraps cap for outright ban on new Airbnb hosts in secondary market.

By Josh Feit July 19, 2016

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City council member Tim Burgess is coming out with a revised plan to regulate Airbnb at tomorrow’s neighborhood committee meeting. The proposal would scrap the 90-day cap from his initial proposal. (His initial version proposed putting a 90 day limit on hosts who rent out rooms at secondary properties, i.e., properties where they don't live. And it also used 90 days as the trigger for getting a special business license if you rent out rooms at your primary residence.)

But despite getting rid of the cap, I don’t think Airbnb hosts are going to be very happy with the new proposal.

The new idea makes everyone get a special business license right off the bat—a business license known as a Title Six license that’s reserved for heavily regulated businesses like strip clubs and pot shops. And while there’s no longer a cap, the proposal outright bans people from renting out rooms at secondary properties unless they’re already doing it. And that group—only about 13 percent of the 2,900 Seattle Airbnb hosts, according to Airbnb—would only be allowed to host at those secondary properties for 10 years.

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Taking his cue from low-income advocacy group Puget Sound Sage, Burgess’s concern with off-site Airbnb rentals is that it’s taking precious housing stock off the long term rental market. There aren’t a lot of those units today, about 300 Burgess says, but there’s concern that it’s a growing market and that realtors may swoop into Seattle and start buying up units to rent on the short term market.

Council members like Rob Johnson have suggested an alternative way of regulating off-site rentals: Cap the number of units a host can have rather than the number of days they can rent total per year.

Puget Sound Sage, which is pushing for the regulations because they believe the hot short term rental market could gobble up between 1,000 and 1,600 long term units over the next three years, says a cap on off-site units is a solution they’d support.

Airbnb would not comment on Burgess’s new proposal.

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