Legislators Look at Homesharing

Commentary & Community

Legislators Look at Homesharing


Have you ever used an app like Airbnb to rent a room for a night? Or have you used the app to rent out your house when you were away on vacation?


Americans are increasingly turning to Airbnb and other homesharing platforms for short-term rentals, and government officials are starting to notice this trend. While in most places home sharing is largely unregulated, there are efforts across the country to impose new rules on this practice. Many of these regulatory efforts are coming from local government officials.


Proponents of regulation contend that homesharing through apps deprives consumers of government oversight to ensure quality. It also deprives states or local governments of room rental fees. Opponents of regulation counter that consumers determine the quality of the rental unit and that government has no business prohibiting people from renting their homes out for a night or two.


These are several proposals about homesharing that state legislators could be debating this year:


Virginia: a bill in this state would allow local governments to ban short-term (fewer than 30 days) rentals. If local governments allowed these rentals, the homeowner would have to notify neighbors, seek permission from the local government, pay taxes on room rentals, and carry $500,000 in insurance.


Massachusetts: separate legislation is being considered in the Bay State to regulate short-term rentals. One bill would separate rental-unit owners into separate categories depending on how often they rent rooms and tax them at different rates. Those renting rooms would face state inspections and insurance requirements. Local governments could also impose additional restrictions on rentals. Another bill, backed by Gov. Charlie Baker, would impose taxes on individuals who rent out rooms for more than 150 days a year.


Indiana: under legislation approved unanimously by a House committee, local governments would be prohibited from imposing restrictions on short-term rental units as long as the owners rent them out fewer than 180 days a year.


Idaho: legislators will consider a bill that would prohibit local governments from banning short-term rentals, or restricting them from certain neighborhoods. These rentals would still be subject to local rules regarding the fire code, nuisances, and noise.


Florida: legislators in Florida will also consider a bill that would prohibit local governments from banning short-term rentals. This legislation would pre-empt the bans that are already in place in some Florida towns and prevent future actions by cities or counties.


Do you think that states should impose stricter regulations on renting through Airbnb? Or do you support state laws that prevent local governments from banning short-term rentals?


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