New restrictions on Airbnb operators in Seattle

New regulations take effect January 1, 2019.

With rents and home prices rising and affordable housing in short supply, Seattle can’t afford to lose permanent units, council members said.

New Airbnb operators in Seattle will not be able to rent out more than two units on the popular short-term rental platform under new rules passed by the Seattle City Council on Monday.

The council approved a new set of regulations designed to prevent property owners from operating Airbnbs and other short-term rentals as if they were hotels. The legislation is part of a larger effort to ensure an adequate supply of long-term rental stock for the city’s permanent residents.

The new rules limit hosts to two dwelling units each and require them to obtain special licenses to operate short-term rentals. The regulations also require short-term rental platforms — like Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO — to obtain a special “platform license” to facilitate bookings in Seattle.

In November, the Council approved a new tax on short-term rental operators. The tax costs hosts who rent out entire units $14 per night and hosts who only rent out part of their homes — such as a spare bedroom — $8 per night. It is estimated to bring in approximately $7 million annually. The tax was initially part of the regulatory package that passed today, but the Council decided to vote on the two issues separately.

The amended legislation approved Monday exempts some Airbnb hosts from the two-unit maximum. Hosts already operating a short-term rental in the “Downtown Urban Center” (south of Olive Way and north of Cherry St.) will not be subject to any limits on the number of units they can rent. Outside of the downtown core, hosts who were already operating a short-term rental by Sept. 30, 2017 will be permitted to rent out their primary residence and an additional two units. New Airbnb hosts are limited to just two units total.

Seattle Times



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