It’s not exactly illegal for Portlanders to rent out a room in their house to tourists in town for a short stay, but it’s also not easy to comply with the current law. Short-term rentals (defined as less than 30 days) require a conditional-use permit just like bed and breakfast businesses. It’s a lengthy and expensive process, involving a land use review, notice to neighbors and as much as $4,000 in fees. This could explain why some Portland residents have chosen to join the peer-to-peer vacation rental market illegally.
A city council vote scheduled for July 16 could change all that.
The proposed ordinance would allow people to rent out space in their houses on a short-term basis using permit that would cost an estimated $180 every two years. These short-term rentals would have to meet some specific criteria. Only houses — not apartments or condos — would be eligible for the new permits, though “accessory dwellings” such as mother-in-law units are included. Residents would have to show that the house serves as their primary residence, that their neighbors had been notified, and that they will submit to a fire safety inspection.
The Portland City Council will take public comment on the proposed ordinance July 2 at 2pm and if past hearings are any indication, it is likely to be well-attended.
Have you used a vacation rental website to list your home or to find a place to stay? What will this new ordinance mean for you?
- Sandra Wood: Supervising planner for the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
- David Owen: Regional director of public policy for Airbnb