Home News Airbnb laws will hurt Portland’s newest company

Airbnb laws will hurt Portland’s newest company

| Print |  Email
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

airbnb-logoBY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Eric was in a bind. The rent on his Southeast Portland studio had increased for the third year in a row. His salary as a paralegal at a downtown law firm wasn’t enough to cover the rent increases. Then one of his coworkers mentioned he could subsidize his rent with short term vacation rentals through Airbnb. His coworker did warn Eric about the city’s new Airbnb tax and said permitting procedures adding red tape to the process. Nevertheless, Eric created a profile and put his apartment up for rent for $100 a night. Soon he had two reservations and was expecting to earn $200.

Eric had turned his apartment into a money maker, but there were some larger issues Eric had overlooked. With cities and landlords catching up to the Airbnb craze, the laws and policies Eric’s coworker warned him about doomed Eric’s new operation.

Eric is a composite figure. But the problems I've described above challenge plenty of real world Airbnb landlords. After months of city hall battles March 2014 brought with it Portland’s new attitude towards Airbnb. Mayor Charlie Hales struck a deal with the online lodging coordinator, which uses a network of members throughout the world to offer their homes to travelers for a fee. The agreement called for Airbnb operators to pay an 11.5% tax, to cover the city’s 6% lodging tax and the 5.5% county tax.

Airbnb is a wildly popular concept that nevertheless violates many standard leases and zoning codes while angering a hotel industry that pays heavy tourism taxes. That combination, along with a new Airbnb headquarters scheduled to open in Portland this summer, forced officials to address the illegal short-term rental issue. A solution could come with the proposed revisions of Chapter 33.207 of the Regulatory Improvement Code Amendment Package 6 (RICAP 6), which introduced the accessory short-term rental.

The accessory short term rental language creates a new property classification which reads as follows:

An accessory short term rental is one where an individual resides in a house, attached house, duplex, or manufactured home and rents bedrooms to overnight guests. There are two types of short-term rentals

Type A:  accessory short term rental where the operator is renting no more than 2 bedrooms to overnight guests

Type B: accessory short term rental where the operator is renting between 3 and 5 bedrooms to overnight guests.  

The tax and the proposed laws would allow Airbnb to operate legally in Portland. Operators would need to apply for a permit from the Building Development Services. The application to acquire a permit for both Type A and B rentals includes:

  1. Notifying neighbors and the property owner by mailing a letter which describes the operation and the number of available bedrooms, operator contact information and how rental standards are being met.
  2. Operators must submit a copy of the notification letter and a list of the necessary recipients of the notification letter as well as their addresses.
  3.  Two copies of a paper application which includes
  4. Property location
  5. Name, address and telephone number of the operator
  6. Operator signature

These proposed laws don’t bode well for current Airbnb renters, especially those in rented properties. My daughter Ellen, a New York renter who agreed to speak on the issue, sub-rents her apartment through Airbnb, says these new proposals would dissuade her if New York were to adopt them. “I use Airbnb because it’s simple and allows me to subsidize my rent. It provides people a home when they’re traveling and assures me that someone is staying in my apartment overnight when I’m away.” Ellen’s lease, similar to most apartment leases, does not allow for any short term rentals. The recently updated rental agreement we use at Bluestone & Hockley says “tenants shall not advertise available occupancy of their unit if that available occupancy is in exchange for any sort of compensation." Language like this is assures liability and resident safety are respected in addition to making sure the lease agreement is upheld and that the Tenant / Landlord relationship stays intact. 

With these new laws, to be voted on at the April 22nd  2014, Portland city hall meeting, operators like Eric and Ellen may have to reevaluate their commitment to Airbnb. These regulations protect Portland’s strict zoning codes and hotel operators, but they may have an adverse effect on Airbnb’s business.  The popularity of the concept Airbnb could inspire renters to ignore both Airbnb and the law. Existing operators of cheap short term vacation rentals will could bypass these new laws and find alternatives ways to rent. Other on-line companies could use this business model more creatively to capitalize and help operators fill their empty pocket books.


 

Cliff Hockley is the president of Bluestone & Hockley Real Estate Services        

 

More Articles

Risks & rewards of owning triple net investments

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 24, 2014
NNNinvestmentBY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

With the increasing retirements of Baby Boomers, a massive real estate shift has created a significant increase in demand for NNN properties. The result? Increased demand has triggered higher prices and lower yields.


Read more...

Poll Wrap-Up

News
Friday, August 15, 2014

2014 NewPoll-report-newsletterthumbIn this week's poll, we asked readers: "Who should pay for the troubled Cover Oregon website?" Here are the results.


Read more...

Oregon Business wins awards

News
Monday, June 30, 2014

ASBPEOregon Business magazine won two silver awards for excellence in writing in the National American Society of Business Publication Editors Western region competition.


Read more...

Updated: Disrupting innovation

News
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
070814 thumb disputive-innovationBY LINDA BAKER  | OB EDITOR

The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation  — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment. 

Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.


Read more...

Why I became an Oregon angel investor

Guest Blog
Monday, July 14, 2014
AngelInvestBY TERRY "STARBUCKER" ST. MARIE

I really didn’t know that much about angel investing, but I did know a lot about the entrepreneurial spirit.


Read more...

Trends in business succession

News
Thursday, July 03, 2014
TrendsBY TED AUSTIN & MIKE BAELE | GUEST CONTRIBUTORS

The Office of Economic Analysis announced that Oregon is currently enjoying the strongest job growth since 2006. While this resurgence has been welcome, the lingering effects of the 2008 “Great Recession” continues to affect Oregon businesses, especially with regard to estate planning and business succession.


Read more...

Blips and trends in the housing market

News
Thursday, June 26, 2014
062614 thumb realestateBY ERIC FRUTS | OB BLOGGER

Last year, the housing market in Oregon—and the U.S. as a whole—was blasting off. The Case-Shiller index of home prices ended the year 13% higher than at the beginning of the year. But, was last year a blip, or a trend?


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS