MACo Backs Regulation of Short-Term Rentals, Protects Local Autonomy

MACo Associate Director Natasha Mehu and MML Director of Government Relations Candace Donoho jointly testified in support with amendments on Senate Bill 463, “Business Regulation – Limited Residential Lodging,” before the Senate Finance and Budget and Taxation Committees on February 22, 2017.

The bill is an effort to regulate the burgeoning market of short-term residential rental arrangements through online intermediaries.  Counties support regulation of the limited residential lodging industry to protect the safety and welfare of their communities, but wish to ensure that any regulatory scheme is developed without unintended consequences that may undermine the benefits.

Specifically, the bill should be amended to ensure that the regulations are not overly burdensome on residents that serve as hosts. The record-keeping obligations and penalties are onerous and could prevent residents from hosting. This may be particularly acute for casual hosts who do not rent out their properties or rooms on a frequent basis. Likewise, the sprinkler requirement, which has been a controversial issue for rural counties in recent years, presents an additional hurdle for hosts.

From MACo testimony:

Counties across the state are currently studying and grappling with how to regulate short-term rentals in the best interest of their diverse and distinct communities. Local governments are best situated to address the specific needs of their communities – particularly in regards to public health, public safety, and zoning matters that have long been within their purview. Accordingly, the bill should be amended to expressly protect the authority of local governments to enact local laws concerning the regulation of short-term rentals and to prevent against state preemption.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.