Los Angeles May Restrict, Tax Short-Term Rentals

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Los Angeles may soon place new restrictions on short-term rentals listed on sites like Airbnb, VRBO and Homeaway, The LA Times reported Dec. 2.

There are concerns that allowing such rentals in residential areas — instead of the city center locations traditionally reserved for corporate and other short-term housing — ruins the character of neighborhoods and lowers quality of life for permanent occupants.

So many residential homes have been converted for short-term rentals that they have “begun to change the stable and familiar feel of many residential neighborhoods,” according to Councilmen Mike Bonin and Herb Wesson, who have introduced a motion addressing the problem.

The motion is only a first step and, if passed by an economic development committee, would ask city lawyers and legislative analysts to make recommendations based on how other cities, such as San Francisco, handle this rental market.

It also suggests that new regulations include the collection of a transient occupancy tax. These fees are currently paid by traditional hotels, but not by owner rentals.

“We need a regulatory model that will put neighborhoods first while paving the way for short-term rentals to thrive in an appropriate fashion in Los Angeles,” said Bonin.

National Trends
L.A. isn’t the only city considering the impact of short-term rentals.

All across the country, cities are either loosening regulations or placing further restrictions on by-owner rentals in residential areas.

The Portland Tribune reported Dec. 4 that “The Portland City Council is poised to ‘roll the dice’ on an expansion of Airbnb-style rentals into apartments and condos,” allowing residents in multifamily structures such as apartment buildings to let rooms for a few nights at a time.

Essentially, renters would be able to sublet on a short-term basis provided they had permission from their landlords.

Opponents worry that the move will further reduce the city’s inventory of affordable housing, but supporters say such arrangements are already taking place illegally anyway.

Meanwhile, several smaller towns are enacting additional restrictions, fearing that such rentals actually stunt the local economy.

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