Over 45,000 voted in the municipal elections [Photo Credit: Tiffany Tertipes]

Portland rejects short-term rental ballot measure

US: The city of Portland, Maine has completed its ballot counting, revealing that it has rejected a ballot measure which would have increased restrictions on short-term rentals.

It was the only one rejected by voters out of five possible changes to city regulations.

49,005 total people voted in the election, with over 52 per cent voting against the possible restrictions. The measure was also the closest out of the five votes on the ballot, with a margin of 300 total votes separating the two sides.

Question E was brought by the Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America. It sought to eliminate non-owner occupied and tenant occupied short-term rentals, increase violation fines and raise registration fees for hosts.

Proponents argued that the measure would return many short-term rentals to the housing market, which has been dwindling for full-time Portland residents. They alleged that up to 400 units would become available for long-term rent.

However, a variety of opponents accused the regulations of being excessive, in particular with regard to potential penalties. Had they passed, regulations would have risen to $1000 per unit, while penalties for violations of any restrictions hit $1000 a day.

Chris Korzen, treasurer of Portland Homeowners and Tenants Coalition, told The Portland Press Herald: “We already have regulations. We have already been through this twice before. The City Council debated it at length and figured out a way to make sure we didn’t become a city of just short-term rentals while allowing them as well.”

Question E was not the sole measure related to protecting rental units in the city. Portland approved rent controls for the city, mandating that long-term rental landlords keep rent increases to a minimum.

The US election may have ramifications on the short-term rental industry beyond just direct ballot measures. Many business owners await the result of the presidential election, which could influence the direction of travel and future US pandemic responses.

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