Cincinnati City Council poised for revised regulations vote

US: Cincinnati City Council is set to vote on revising short-term rental regulations in the city after more than a year of debates.

Council member David Mann, who has advocated regulatory efforts, proposed an ordinance which has passed unanimously through council’s Budget and Finance Committee. That ordinance is set to put in place a seven per cent excise tax, with funds raised going towards the city’s affordable housing trust fund.

According to CityBeat, the language has been adapted from Mann’s previous proposal to clarify the rules around nuisance complaints and gives owners 15 days rather than seven to respond to code compliance issues.

The number of short-term rental units in Cincinnati currently stands at around 880, compared to roughly 640 at the  same time last year. Approximately 70 per cent of those rentals reportedly constitute an entire house, condo or apartment.

The city reports that it has seen a 41 per cent yearly growth rate in those type of rentals in recent times.

The prevalence of short-term rentals in cities across the world has caused controversy, with critics of the industry saying that guests cause noise disturbances, that it encourages landlords to take traditional apartments off the long-term rental market and that it perpetuates affordable housing shortages in large cities.

Cincinnati has an approximate 30,000-unit gap with regards to housing affordable to its lowest-income residents, although short-term rental advocates claim the industry is not responsible for that divergence.

Mann’s proposed ordinance would prevent property managers from receiving public subsidies to offer affordable housing for rent on platforms like Airbnb.

Mann told CityBeat: “We don’t want you to have the opportunity to operate Airbnb if you’re receiving support to operate subsidised housing. We don’t want you to take that unit and put it on Airbnb.”

Airbnb supporters in Cincinnati have countered the criticism by claiming that the units enhance neighbourhoods by bringing in spending through tourism.

Last year, Mann introduced a series of ordinances that would seek to cap the number of short-term rentals an owner could operate instead of the time period, as was originally suggested. However, these proposals were blocked by council members who supported short-term rentals in Cincinnati.

Some Airbnb owners say claimed the code compliance stipulations would be “onerous” on them as the ordinance would treat short-term rentals with more than four units as commercial instead of residential buildings. As a result, they would then be subject to commercial building code compliance and possibly greater tax payments.

Airbnb would collect the tax and remit it to the city.

One Airbnb operator who opposed the regulations said: “There haven’t been any safety issues – there is no other business platform that monitors a business more than Airbnb. I feel like you’re discriminating against short-term rentals as many of the things in the ordinance don’t apply to long-term rentals.”

Meanwhile, one supporter of the regulations said they did not go far enough.

John Schrider said: “A lot of work has gone into this. It’s very important that city council move on and adopt this but this is a good first step.

“We know that short-term rentals are having an impact on our neighbourhoods, and we need to study that but we appreciate the support this ordinance will provide on the affordable housing trust,” he added.