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City may crack down on Airbnb laggards who aren't getting permits

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Portlanders opening up their dwellings for short-term rentals would need to get city permits or be barred from listing their properties with Airbnb and other companies, under a proposal headed for the Portland City Council next Thursday, Dec. 11.

City Commissioner Nick Fish, who proposed the idea, said Thursday he expects it will win council approval.

This will be a “game changer” in enforcing the city’s new short-term rental ordinance, Fish said.

In July, the City Council passed an ordinance legalizing short-term rentals of less than 30 days in single-family homes. Hosts who rent out rooms in their homes for short-term stays must get a city permit, starting Aug. 30. However, only a small percentage of hosts have bothered to get the permit, which costs about $180 and requires a cursory safety inspection of their dwellings.

The Bureau of Development Services is responsible for enforcing the ordinance, but it only steps in when someone files a complaint about an operation. Usually those come one at a time, when a neighbor objects to something going on down the block.

Thomas Lannom, Revenue Bureau director, told the City Council recently he wants to be more “proactive” about enforcing the city’s new ordinance, because the city is losing out on lodging tax revenues from short-term renters. Right now, Airbnb is collecting lodging taxes from its local hosts, but won’t divulge their names or addresses to the city.

Lannom pledged to bring a proposal to the council giving the city new tools to collect the tax, and identify the local hosts for Airbnb and other companies that market short-term rentals.

At a recent City Council work session, Fish asked Airbnb’s David Owen if the company could require hosts to post their permit number before getting ads on the Internet-based system, but Owen was noncommittal.

Under the proposal coming to the City Council, that may become mandatory for Airbnb, Craigslist and others that promote short-term rentals.

“That makes enforcement very easy,” Fish says. “This changes everything.”

The City Council also is expected on Thursday to legalize short-term rentals in apartments and condos, if certain conditions are met.

Steve Law can be reached at 503-546-5139 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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