PORTLAND – An online company that helps residents rent rooms out to travelers and guests said Tuesday that it’s not opposed to new rules that might regulate and tax the burgeoning practice of short-term rentals.
Airbnb, for one, said it’s helped 1,500 Portlanders rent out their homes.
But these rentals are essentially unregulated and untaxed. That’s rubbed some people in the traditional hotel and bed and breakfast industry the wrong way. Airbnb has also run afoul of regulators in other cities.
Portland’s Planning Commission advanced a slate of recommendations to the City Council on Tuesday that would require people that rent their rooms to notify neighbors, register their properties, get a home inspection and pay a fee of $180 to operate as an intermittent commercial property.
On Tuesday, Airbnb said in written statements, first obtained by The Oregonian, that they supported new regulations but didn’t want ‘onerous’ rules applied.
Airbnb said that in Portland it helped a "creative and sustainable economy that supports households, grows and diversifies tourism and activates neighborhoods."
The company said 40 percent of the people who rent out their spaces live below the median income and that Airbnb helps them generate extra income.
Airbnb hosts are 42 years old on average and 87 percent of their guests have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Some 74 percent of the guests traveled with family and sought amenities not offered at hotels, according to Airbnb.
However, the company said it didn’t see why home inspections are necessary if the homes are already suitable for the owners to live in. It also opposed high fees and “onerous” rules that tried to preempt hypothetical problems like traffic and parking issue.
In March, Airbnb announced plans to move its North American headquarters to the Blagen Block building on Southwest Ash Street in Portland’s Old Town. The San Francisco-based company will keep its main offices in California, but said it would hire up to 160 people for the new Portland location.