The Montgomery County Council passed a bill and zoning text amendment Tuesday to legalize and regulate short-term rentals done through websites such as Airbnb.
The council voted unanimously to pass Bill 2-16 and Zoning Text Amendment 17-03 which allows residents who want to rent out their homes or condos through hospitality services such as Airbnb to register with the County Department of Health and Human Services.
Airbnb is a popular hospitality site that allows homeowners to advertise their homes or rooms for short-term vacation rentals. Council member Hans Riemer (D-at large), the lead sponsor of Bill 2-16, said he worried that investors would buy houses with the intention of advertising rooms in the house on Airbnb full-time making it a de-facto hotel.
“The core of the proposal is that in Montgomery County we want every home to have a homeowner that lives there and we don’t want to open up our residential housing to investors to come in and buy properties and then turn them into hotels,” Riemer said.
ZTA 17-03 allows short-term residential renters to rent their properties for 120 days out of a calendar year, which would only apply when the renter is away. In addition it would limit the rental to six adult guests; limit the total number of adults per bedroom to two and require the renter to provide one off-street parking space per rental contract.
Bill 2-16, if passed, would require short-term rentals to follow some County licensing requirements such as: paying taxes, keeping a record of guests, and having a carbon dioxide detector for units with natural gas. The bill would also ease regulations for bed-and-breakfasts, which have to follow the same regulations as hotels in the County.
Previously, County zoning ordinances banned residential short-term rentals done through websites like Airbnb, but that did not stop residents from using Airbnb. According to a County statistic, there were 1,400 units located in Montgomery County listed on Airbnb
Council member Nancy Floreen (D-at large), said trying to enforce a ban on Airbnb-type rentals was untenable for the County.
“One of the realities that Mr. Riemer helped us deal with was that there were already hundreds of these things occurring in Montgomery County,” Floreen said. “And so we had to do something and so the hope was that we would bring them into line into a manageable fashion. That’s the point of all of this.”