Portland may subpoena short-term rental companies for host data

Portland is taking legal aim at another sector of the so-called “gig economy.”

The Portland City Council is expected to weigh whether to give city regulators the authority to subpoena vacation-rental sites like Airbnb and HomeAway, compelling them to turn over information on hosts using the platforms to advertise rooms or homes for rent.

The subpoenas would seek user information to expose unregistered listings that haven’t been inspected or aren’t paying hotel taxes, as required under city code. (read more)

City of Portland to begin issuing citations for short-term rental violations

Beginning Friday, March 31, the City of Portland will be able to issue citations to those violating short-term rental requirements. Short-term rental spaces, such as rooms and residences found through Airbnb, will only be penalized if they’re in violation of the Portland Zoning Code Accessory Short Term Rentals (ASTR) regulations…

“I am very pleased BDS is increasing enforcement options for Accessory Short Term Rentals violations within the City,” said City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. “I have been very concerned about illegal, full-time commercial short term rentals in residential zones and I believe the new citation will assist BDS in responding to these egregious violations and improving compliance rates.” (read more) 

Portland City Commissioner: Airbnb doesn’t care about compliance

“If Airbnb cared about compliance they wouldn’t let hosts use the site without having at least begun the permit process and they wouldn’t allow a whole home or apartment to be rented more than 90 days out of a calendar year.” (read more)

Report: Airbnb’s Bottom Line Depends on Breaking City Rules

Short-term rental marketplace Airbnb has an incentive to break the rules set by Portland—and cities around the country—a new analysis finds. Portland as well as San Francisco require that the people live in any Airbnb property at least nine months out of the year, in order to prevent tourists from taking over homes that could otherwise house local residents.

But according to the data website FiveThirtyEight, 40 percent of the revenue Airbnb hosts earn in Portland are from entire apartments or homes rented for more than 180 days a year, such as a Boise townhouse and a San Francisco condo listed by an Airbnb manager. (read more)

Airbnb’s Own Employees Violate Portland’s Rules

Airbnb manager Rebecca Rosenfelt was caught by a local reporter listing six different properties on the site, in brazen violation of Portland rules implemented two years prior.

Rosenfelt isn’t the first Airbnb employee to run afoul of the rules. The company’s CEO, Brian Chesky, came under scrutiny in January 2016 for failing to register his apartment in San Francisco. (read more)

Portland to immediately fine hosts who break rules

The city has started to crack down on hosts who violate the rules, increasing fines for illegal listings.

Ross Caron, spokesman for the Bureau of Development Services, said the main motivation in raising fines came from a study done by the city that showed about 80% of Airbnb listings weren’t legally permitted.

The fines for violations used to range from $700 to $1,400, which allowed Airbnb scofflaws to ignore them. The new fines will range from $1,000 to $5,000 and be issued without any warning or grace period. (read more)

Black Leaders Call Out Discrimination on Airbnb

Leaders from the NAACP, Urban League and Black Parent initiative called on Portland’s city leaders to take action against rampant discrimination on the Airbnb platform. In an op-ed, they wrote that Portland should follow San Francisco’s lead in compelling Airbnb to share its booking data, including the names, addresses and record of guest stays at each property, to support meaningful follow up on discrimination complaints. (read more)

Portland City Commissioner Troubled by Airbnb’s Position on Civil Rights and Consumer Protection

During the debate over Airbnb, Commissioner Nick Fish pressed company officials on whether they were covered by federal civil rights laws. The answers he got were “troubling” and led him to a number of “no” votes. (read more)

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