Cleveland City Councilman proposes temporary suspension of AirBnb

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A Cleveland City Councilman is proposing a temporary suspension of AirBnb and other short-term rental housing services, saying the council needs time to look over current guidelines and propose new ones.

Tony Brancatelli proposed the legislation in late February, which would "establish a moratorium on the operation of limited lodging in resident districts until Dec. 31, 2018.

Brancatelli told Cleveland 19 he does not think the moratorium will become necessary, but says he's trying to force a conversation about short-term housing in Cleveland.

Currently, the city does have guidelines, legalizing, limiting and taxing the short-term housing industry. The rules were established in 2016, in time for the Republican National Convention, and ahead of a huge demand in rentals within the city.

Under the current rules, hosts may not rent out their homes for more than 30 days to any one tenant.

They must collect lodging taxes or partner with a service that does so, like AirBnb.

They also have to sign up with the rental registry, which costs $35, if they rent out their properties more than 91 days out of the year.

Brancatelli says those rules aren't working in his district, which includes Slavic Village and parts of Old Brooklyn. In his ordinance proposal, he cites "an increase in nuisance activity and other illegal activity" along with the increase of demand for short-term rentals.

He says he's proposing several new additions to current law.

He wants to tighten restrictions on nuisance properties, including those which are the source of complaints from neighbors.

He also wants to establish another registry for short-term rentals, which would be free, but include all hosts, not just those who rent their properties for more than 91 days a year.

Finally, he's asking for AirBnb and other services to ban hosts who do not comply with these regulations.

Some AirBnb hosts say they're nervous that this legislation has been introduced, and troubled by the possibility of loss of income, especially if the moratorium goes into effect through the end of the year.

"My immediate reaction is that it seems like an overreaction on his part. It sounds like out of 36 to 40,000 visitors we had coming into AirBnb last year, there might have been one or two bad apples in the group," said Lori Switaj McCormick, who's been renting out her home for about 16 months now.

She says the city council should look at the rules, but that most hosts are already abiding by the ones in place.

"It's an issue more of the person who's hosting the AirBnb," she said. "We're very specific, You can't have parties, you can't have more than four people, you have to be quiet at 11:00, and they've been very quiet. We've had great guests."

The ordinance is now at the legal department at City Hall. Once it comes out, Brancatelli expects continued conversation about the future of AirBnb and other short-term rental services in the city of Cleveland.

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