Airbnb host? Renting short-term some other way? Here are the revised rules the City Council will consider

After big pushback to proposed regulations last year, the City Council is ready to consider a revised set of rules for people who rent short-term via Airbnb, VRBO, and similar services, as well as potential bed-and-breakfast operators.

Today’s Land Use Information Bulletin includes official notice of the new proposal, with this description:

The legislation would establish a new definition for “short-term rental” as a type of lodging use and establish standards for short-term rentals, including a limit on the number of dwelling units that an individual may operate as a short-term rental. The legislation would also modify the definition of “bed and breakfast” as a type of lodging use and modify the standards for bed and breakfasts as an accessory use in residential zones, allowing existing “bed and breakfast” uses to continue but regulating new bed and breakfast uses as short-term rentals.

The legislation adds a requirement that all short-term rental uses have a short-term rental operator’s license from the City and that all short-term rental platforms have a short-term rental platform’s license from the City, and establishes a process for the enforcement of licensing requirements. The legislation includes a one-year compliance window for anyone currently offering nightly or weekly rentals of a residence within the City of Seattle.

According to a news release from City Councilmember Tim Burgess, who officially announced the revised rule-change proposal, the aforementioned limit would mean “anyone may provide their primary residence and one additional unit as a short-term rental, without limitation of nights per year.”

Burgess is quoted as saying, “Under my revised proposal, a family can still rent out their home when they go on a weekend vacation, or a homeowner can rent out their second property to help pay the mortgage. All this while preventing a mass turnover of existing rental housing stock into short-term rentals. I think we’ve struck the right balance, and I look forward to more review in the weeks ahead as the Council considers this ordinance.” The news release says the next step is for the council’s Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods, and Finance Committee to consider the legislation in early June. (Burgess chairs the committee, and its vice chair is West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold.)

You can read the full proposed ordinance by going here. Today’s notice also includes the city’s determination that the proposed rule changes are environmentally non-significant; you have until May 8th to either comment on that contention, or appeal it, and the notice explains how.

22 Replies to "Airbnb host? Renting short-term some other way? Here are the revised rules the City Council will consider"

  • Brent April 24, 2017 (2:30 pm)

    Still trying to tell homeowners what they can do with their own homes, that they worked for, paid for, and of late, paid an exorbitant amount of property tax on.

  • AMD April 24, 2017 (3:49 pm)

    If someone wants to run a hotel in their house, make them abide by the same rules and regulations every other hotel owner does.

    • Mike April 25, 2017 (5:10 pm)

      Yup, and charge the insane fees the city required all hotels to collect to pay for the elected officials pet projects

  • TM April 24, 2017 (4:08 pm)

    The affordable housing problem is made by the shortage of homes due to the influx of companies and their employees moving to Seattle.  Limiting the rights of property owners isn’t going to fix anything.  If anything, it squashes the small business owner of using their property to make a living.  I just sent an email strongly encouraging Councilmember Herbold to vote no on this proposal.  I’m sure it will fall on deaf ears and I can’t wait for city elections to vote her out.

    • Dave April 24, 2017 (5:44 pm)

      Totally agree on all points! Elected officials should not be trying to tweak our rights or the function of our market economy. 

  • KBear April 24, 2017 (4:14 pm)

    When you’re running a business  out of your home, it affects other people besides you, and the city can regulate it. 

    • ImmaMom April 24, 2017 (4:41 pm)


    • TM April 24, 2017 (8:02 pm)

      I’ll have the Council propose regulating eBay, artists, massage therapists, landscaper, etc… 

      • KBear April 24, 2017 (8:14 pm)

        TM, there are regulations that apply to all of those. One of the conditions of living in a civilized community is you don’t get to do whatever the hell you want. That’s what makes it possible to have a community. I’d say the benefits far outweigh the restrictions. 

      • Dave April 24, 2017 (9:00 pm)


  • Denis April 24, 2017 (6:12 pm)

     I live in a residential neighborhood that is zoned accordingly, because I don’t want to live next to a business. Air bed-and-breakfast is a business and commercial operation. That is not something I want in my single-family residential neighborhood. 

    Nobody seems to be paying attention to Mayor Ed Murray’s close buddy who operates his own Air  B & B, and has a very vested interest in how the city and his friend the mayor propose or support  regulations. 

    • Canton April 25, 2017 (6:27 am)

      Look at Murray’s campaign contributions. Lots of donations from from airbnb folks.

  • MrB April 24, 2017 (8:30 pm)

    Welcome to the People’s Republic of Seattle.

  • WSB April 24, 2017 (9:10 pm)

    FWIW, Airbnb apparently has no problem with the new proposal. We didn’t ask them for a statement, but a PR person for Airbnb sent us one, attributed to Laura Spanjian, Airbnb Public Policy Director for the Northwest: “Airbnb welcomes the new proposal from the City of Seattle regarding the proposed regulation of short-term rentals. We continue to work closely with the City on developing regulations that will protect Seattle’s long-term housing stock while allowing thousands of responsible Airbnb hosts to share their homes to earn meaningful supplemental income to help make ends meet.”

  • HTB April 24, 2017 (10:01 pm)

    Seattle – the supposed leader of the tech economy doing everything in its power to stifle innovation.

  • JanS April 25, 2017 (12:06 am)

    Dear TM. I am a massage therapist who works out of my home. We’re already regulated.

  • Alki April 25, 2017 (6:08 am)

    So who regulates, inspects and enforces the licenses?  DPD?  This sounds like more administration and expense.

    • LF April 25, 2017 (10:06 am)

      That will fall to FAS – Finance and Administrative Services. They handle business licensing.

  • H April 25, 2017 (11:29 am)

    I really don’t think these proposals are unreasonable – limit the number of short term rental units per individual, business license, operators license. All reasonable means to account for and collect business taxes. I’m happy to comply with these requirements.

  • Doi April 25, 2017 (11:44 am)

    What is your beef with this deal? It allows people to short term rent their house, and their second house- and prevents apartment complex owners from establishing unlicensed hotels. It sounds to me like CC heard you, and this is a reasonable solution. 

    It seems like people are so jaded, they just keep spouting the same old rhetoric, regardless of the situation. 

  • Nancy R April 26, 2017 (5:42 am)

    This is not restrictive at all-  that’s why Airbnb loves it.   The City just caved.   Our business is vacation rentals,  not in Seattle  but just outside, so we have some experience here.    It is way more lucrative to convert a long term rental property to a vacation rental,  plus you don’t have to comply with the new long term tenant laws.    Short term/vacation rentals will continue to erode the available stock of rental housing for Seattle residents.   I think they should be allowed but taxed.   If short-term rentals were taxed (increase the hotel/motel tax) and the taxes went to support homeless housing,   that would be a step in the right direction.   

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