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Report: City regulations may be placed on Airbnb-style rentals including tax increase

Columbus city skyline. (WSYX/WTTE)

A new report says Columbus may place stricter regulations on how homes are being rented through online services like Airbnb.

City council spokeswoman Lee Cole told bizjournals.com that they are preparing to discuss the issue of short-term rentals. Cole told the journal that proposed legislation would restrict hosts from renting out their rooms or homes for more than 90 days a year. She added that the city would also impose a hotel and motel excise tax on such rentals.

Bizjournals.com says the city imposes a 5.1 percent tax on hotel stays, while the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority adds another 4.9 percent on stays within the county. Proposed legislation would include online short-term rentals in that tax.

It would also include a requirement that short-term rental hosts must use the property as their primary residence, whether they're the owner or a "permanent occupant" living there more than half the year said the journal.

There would be a $75 permit per year along with a $10 application fee.

"For a host that lives in their home and rents out an extra bedroom to help pay medical bills, student loan debt or just has a need for that extra income, having an opportunity to rent that room out for 365 days a year is critical," Jordan Fromm told bizjournals.com's Laura Newpoff. "Over-regulating can hurt a lot of people who have become small-business owners and have improved their quality of life."

Joe Savarise, executive director of the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association/Greater Columbus Lodging Council, told the journal he is encouraged by the city's willingness to work with the council and others on the issue.

"OHLA has been in discussions about short-term online rental regulations since 2016 with state and local elected officials, travel economy partners, and members of our association who utilize these platforms as part of their business," he said in an email. "Our industry’s principles on oversight of this type of business are 1) ensuring guest health and safety; 2) providing a level playing field in oversight, regulation, taxation; and 3) avoiding negative impact on neighbors and neighborhoods."

Savarise also told Bizjournals.com that he "has no desire to throttle these types of platforms and will continue to work with the city and the businesses in this portion of our industry for reasonable oversight.”

Lee added the proposed legislation is based on what other cities have in place. She also made it clear to Bizjournals.com that meetings have yet to take place.

"These ideas are just some of what will be explored during the meetings," she said. "It is neither inclusive (nor) exclusive. This is in the storming and norming phase."


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