Local cities wrestle with growing short-term rental industry

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Airbnbs - What You Need to Know

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Airbnb-style rentals catch attention of Oakwood, Yellow Springs.

Oakwood and Yellow Springs are among the local communities seeking ways regulate Airbnb and other short-term property rentals that have challenged the traditional hospitality industry.

Supporters say short-term lodging offers affordable options for travelers and helps property owners looking to make extra income, but many communities say the industry threatens affordable housing and poses security issues.

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The relationship between Airbnb and other types of transient guest lodging (TGL) with local communities varies widely.

Yellow Springs this month approved restrictions on the short-term rentals, Oakwood is in the process of banning them, but Dayton and Fairborn are among the cities without any specific regulations.

Sam Randall, a spokesman for Airbnb, said the company founded in 2008 now has more than 5 million available listings for places to stay in more than 81,000 cities and 191 countries.

Airbnb is an online platform that connects people who want to rent out their homes, condos or extra rooms to travelers and other people looking for a place to stay.

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Randall said that Ohio’s host community earned a combined $50 million with approximately 460,000 guest arrivals in 2018.

“Airbnb hosts set their own pricing and keep 97 percent of the listing price,” Randall said.”Hospitality is a large, growing market, and we strongly believe that helping more people to travel is good news for everyone.”

Thousands of local stays

The company reports that in 2018, Montgomery County had $1.7 million in host income and 17,300 guests that used Airbnb, while Greene County had $673,000 in host income and 6,700 guests. In Ohio, those totals swelled to $50 million in supplemental income with approximately 460,000 guests in 2018.

Numbers like those sparked concern from the hotel industry, which started to look at Airbnb like traditional taxi services looked at ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft.

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“We’ve always believed that for us to win, no one has to lose. We know some hotels feel differently and have seen some in the hotel industry spend money to try and enact restrictive laws,” Randall said.

Joe Savarise, executive director of the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association, said to ensure that short-term rentals provide great experiences for travelers, it makes sense to have some basic oversight, just like hotels and other traditional lodging properties are regulated.

“The biggest problem from a public policy perspective is that currently, most short-term rentals do not collect and remit taxes for selling the same service – transient accommodations – that hotels do,” he said.

Every hotel transaction in Ohio is subject to lodging tax, state sales tax and county sales tax. In some jurisdictions this is as much as 17.5 percent according to Savarise.

“Short-term rental businesses benefit from the services funded by these taxes – including local services, infrastructure, and destination marketing done by convention and visitors bureaus,” he said.

Local communities consider limits

Smaller areas like Yellow Springs and Oakwood offer shops and restaurants that appeal to travelers.

Denise Swinger, planning and zoning administrator for Yellow Springs, said Village Council passed an ordinance July 15 to make Transient Guest Lodging a conditional use. That requires a public hearing before the Planning Commission for those who want to host short-term rentals.

Swinger said the village had to take a proactive approach to make sure investors weren’t scooping up properties in order to turn a profit while limiting housing opportunities for permanent residents.

The new measure also requires a minimum of one off-street parking space and an inspection by the Miami Twp. Fire and Rescue for the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

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Swinger said her mapping showed 40 transient guest lodgings in the village with 33 of them owner occupied.

“We are a village and we have a limited amount of housing stock,” Swinger said.

She said the concern is that the housing will be turned into TGL, instead of creating opportunities for people who want to live in town full-time and raise their children in the school district.

“We aren’t wanting to start a moratorium on these, but want to make sure we are looking out for the residents of the village,” Swinger said.

Oakwood Law Director Rob Jacques agrees with the concerns of making sure that TGLs conform to the interests of the community.

“The number of listings is currently fairly low, but we have watched it increase over the last year or so,” he said.

Oakwood currently regulates short-term rentals like they do other rental property, “which means that the landlord is required to furnish the city with tenant information and obtain a rental inspection with each occupancy turnover, but no more frequently than once per year,” Jacques said.

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At its July meeting, Oakwood City Council introduced an ordinance to prohibit short-term rentals, which would be defined as rentals for a term of 25 consecutive days or less. The ordinance would not affect rentals exceeding 25 days, such as month-to-month or yearly leases. The second reading and vote is scheduled for council’s Aug. 5 meeting.

“Certainly, the city has an interest in attracting residents who will want to make Oakwood their home, and who will become part of our community,” Jacques said. “But beyond that, we have received a number of complaints ranging from noise and trash issues to neighborhood disruption, and council’s primary concern is to preserve the permanence, established character, density, and tranquility of Oakwood’s residential neighborhoods.”

What others are doing

Kettering Economic and Planning Director Tom Robillard said the city keeps an eye on rental properties like Oakwood, but TGLs that are operating as a larger-scale business are treated differently.

“In general, we regulate them like a Bed and Breakfast operation,” he said.

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City of Dayton spokeswoman Toni Bankston said, “We currently do not have any restrictions on short-term rentals.”

The same is true for Trotwood and Fairborn.

“They are treated and inspected as rental units in Centerville,” spokeswoman Kate Bostdorff said.

Lebanon City Planner Meredith Snyder said vacation rentals as defined by the city’s code (Airbnbs/short-term rentals) are only permitted in the Central Business District.

“The only type of short-term rental permitted outside the Central Business District is a Bed and Breakfast,” Snyder said.

One Dayton owner’s take

Brian Connolly is considered by Airbnb to be a Superhost — they are highly rated and committed to providing great stays for guests, according to the company. He rents a one-bedroom house in the University of Dayton area.

Connolly moved to Dayton from Ireland in 2001 and has been an Airbnb host since 2015.

“I was born into a family run B&B in the southwest coast of Ireland, and now my mother keeps a close eye on my reviews, so I’m under pressure to keep up to her standards,” Connolly said. “The biggest problem I have run into with Airbnb is that sometimes I felt like I was invading someone’s space and that they really only got into hosting because they live in a touristy town and wanted to capitalize on that.”

He added that he feels Dayton is not a tourist town.

“I’m just here to open my home to some like-minded people and share my experience of this great city,” Connolly said.

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