Seattle Council Approves New Airbnb Regulations

by Capitol Hill Seattle Staff/ Capitol Hill Seattle Blog

The Seattle City Council followed through Monday on a second piece of legislation to further regulate the short term rental market in the city and raise new funding from the industry.

Council members approved a package of rules that will limit owners to only two units at a time on services like Airbnb. The new rules will also require the platform companies including Airbnb and Expedia to pay for a permit to operate in Seattle. The approved legislation calls on the city to study how much the platform companies should be charged to help pay for regulation and enforcement of the industry.

Officials said the goal of the regulations is to “balance the economic opportunity created by short-term rentals with the need to maintain supply of long-term rental housing stock available at a range of prices.”

According to a policy paper put out by Tim Burgess’s office when the discussion over regulation first heated up, short-term rentals on Airbnb have exacerbated the city’s housing crisis and regulating short-term and vacation rentals was one of the recommendations to come out of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda Committee. Meanwhile,Seattle’s densest neighborhoods, including Capitol Hill, tend to be the most saturated with short-term rentals. And, according to, more than a third of Airbnb listings on Capitol Hill are from hosts who have multiple listings.

In November, the council approved a tax on operators offering short-term rental properties for stays of 29 days or less. The tax of $14 per night for homes and $8 per night for rooms would raise more than $7 million per year. State lawmakers have also targeted the industry for possible taxation. A provision in the Seattle tax legislation puts the city in position to remove its so-called Airbnb tax — If a statewide tax will provide similar funding opportunities.

The new regulations joining the tax include a zone in downtown that will allow existing hosts to offer up to three units. The new rules are slated to be in effect starting in 2019.

Featured image is a cc licensed photo attributed to Open Grid Scheduler 

One thought on “Seattle Council Approves New Airbnb Regulations”

  1. I fail to grasp why City staff believe they have a right to someone’s property, believing that a homeowner must do long term as opposed to short term rentals. And yet the City has greatly disincentivized renting long term. If a homeowner gets a bad or destructive renter or someone who doesn’t pay on time – or at all – that homeowner is completely screwed. It takes months to get rid of bad tenants, and the homeowner is stuck paying for all kinds of damage. Because of course the City has also allowed damage deposits to be spread out over six months.

    If I had a unit to rent, I would only do it via Air BNB or VRBO, because despite the high taxes, the risk is significantly less.

    Yet another unintended consequence.

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