DC Council approves final version of AirBnB Law

In Real Estate by Richard Bianco

In October the Council took a preliminary vote to adopt among the most restrictive short-term housing regulations (AirBnB Law) in the Country. This week the Council passed the final version of the law, with only small changes. The new law will be a potentially huge impediment for owners who earn money renting out their property via sites like AirBnB, Homeaway, or VRBO.

Most significantly, the law limits the number of nights that an owner can rent out a primary residence while the owner is not present, to 90 per year. There is no restriction on “house sharing” where the owner remains in the property during the rental. Renting out a non-primary residence is prohibited without a hotel, motel, bed and breakfast, or rooming house license.

The only meaningful change from the original version is that the final law allows for an extension of the 90 day period in certain circumstances. (i.e. military or diplomatic deployment or relocation related to a medical condition)

Slim to no chance that the AirBnB Law will change now

Although the Mayor Did not support the bill when it passed on first reading, the Council slapped the final version on her desk with a bulletproof 13-0 vote, effectively taking a Mayoral veto out of play.

Following Mayoral review, the law goes up to Capitol Hill for Congress to weigh in. It is typical of Congress to ignore D.C. laws while they sit there for the mandated 30 legislative days, at which point they are automatically approved. However, occasionally, Members will use DC to push their agenda, as they did with marijuana legalization. Additionally, short term rental companies may flex their lobbying muscle to try and encourage Congress to meddle.

I’ve no idea what kind of appetite there is on the Hill to take this on. However, a few months ago I read an article about how Members of Congress were sleeping in their offices instead of renting apartments. So, the AirBnB Law could be an issue near-and-dear to the hearts of bottom-rung Members. We’ll find out in the coming months.

What’s Next?

The law is set to go into effect in October 2019 to allow DCRA to adopt rules and licensing procedures. In the meantime, if you want to know how the new AirBnB Law might impact your business, or what regulatory hoops you’ll be expected to jump, feel free to contact me or use the scheduling tool on my website to book a free case evaluation.