Mann Introduces 'Pared-Down' Short Term Rental Regulations

Cincinnati City Council member David Mann is proposing a scaled-back version of his previous efforts to regulate short term rentals that would require operators pay a 7 percent tax and register with the city.

click to enlarge Cincinnati City Hall - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Cincinnati City Hall

Cincinnati City Council member David Mann will introduce a new, pared-down version of an ordinance he's been working on that would regulate and tax Cincinnati's short term rentals such as those found on sites like Airbnb. 

That ordinance would levy a 7 percent excise tax on those rentals — an amount comparable to what hotels pay — the receipts from which would go into the city's affordable housing trust fund. The ordinance would also require owners to carry insurance, register with the city, stipulate an emergency contact and self-certify they are in compliance with city building code.

Council's Budget and Finance Committee Monday seemed less than convinced by Mann's previous attempt at regulations for the industry, which is growing in Cincinnati. Mann suggested measures that would have checked code compliance for all short term rentals and would have treated those with more than four units as commercial properties. That suggestion drew jeers from Airbnb owners and skepticism from some members of council. 

There are roughly 880 short-term rental units in Cincinnati, most in Over-the-Rhine, downtown, Walnut Hills, Northside and other popular neighborhoods. That's up from about 830 last November and 640 the site showed this time last year. About 70 percent of those are rentals encompassing an entire house, condo or apartment — up from 60 percent this time last year. The city has seen a 41 percent annual growth rate in those rentals in recent years.

Critics of the industry say it causes noise and other nuisances from guests, incentivizes landlords to pull traditional apartments off the long-term rental market and exacerbates housing shortages, especially in large cities where investment groups operate large numbers of short term rentals. Cincinnati has a roughly 30,000-unit gap when it comes to housing affordable to its lowest-income residents, though short-term rental supporters claim the industry hasn't contributed to that gap.

Locally, some residents in neighborhoods like OTR also say the growing number of short term rentals is changing the character of those neighborhoods. Airbnb supporters in Cincinnati, however, say that isn't the case and that the units actually boost neighborhoods by bringing in tourism spending.

Last year, Mann introduced a more-wide reaching series of ordinances that sought at first to cap the number of days in a year an owner could operate a short-term rental at 90. Mann then proposed a different idea: capping the number of short term rentals an owner could operate instead of the duration. Those efforts, like the most recent proposal, ran up against stiff opposition from short term rental supporters.&

"I appreciate the many helpful ideas for common sense regulation of Short Term Rentals," Mann said in a statement today. "I always prefer a solution which as many people can agree on as possible, and at the Budget and Finance committee on Monday, April 1, we heard many hosts and elected officials say they would support a pared-down proposal with minimal requirements."

Cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia and New York have passed or attempted to pass restrictions on short-term rentals so they don't exacerbate housing shortages there. Columbus and Cleveland have also passed some limited restrictions on short term rentals.

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