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Councilman Wants To Regulate Housing Sites Like Airbnb, Otherwise "Rents Will Go Up"

Bakery Lofts
Flickr Creative Commons
Over-the-Rhine is a popular spot for Airbnb rentals in the city. Council Member David Mann wants to regulate such rentals so as not to take housing options away from those who truly need it.

Cincinnati City Council could vote soon on an ordinance regulating short-term housing rentals in the city.  This includes rentals with Airbnb and similar internet sites.

Council Member David Mann released the proposal last week, which has been in the works for several months.

Mann is concerned about short-term rentals further reducing the number of rental housing units in the city.

"We have a significant deficit in affordable housing in Cincinnati and the more units that are taken out of the rental market, put into the Airbnb and similar kinds of market, there are fewer rental units for those that need them, and rents will go up," Mann said.

Mann said the proposal strikes a balance between affordable housing while encouraging tourism and entrepreneurship.

"An individual, including all the companies that that individual may control or own, can own only three Airbnb units," Mann said.  "And we're talking about apartments or housing units that are rented in total. This does not affect somebody who rents a room out of their house. That's fine, because that's not taking any serious long-term housing out of the rental market."

According to information from Mann's office this proposal will:

  • Distinguish between rental of a room within a home or apartment and rental of an entire home, condo or apartment. The latter is defined as an un-hosted short-term rental
  • Cap number of un-hosted units a host may operate at three
  • "Host" is defined to include ownership through entities including corporations, LLCs, etc.  
  • Grandfather existing units beyond the three-unit cap, so that a current host may continue operating units currently on the market if he or she has more than three
  • Require current hosts to register and obtain a license for existing units
  • Require registration for all short-term rental units (even rooms in hosted homes)
  • Require licensing for un-hosted rentals of entire dwelling units
  • Require hosts to comply with applicable building, zoning, housing, and fire codes
  • Levy an excise tax of 7 percent and earmark it for affordable housing preservation and development in Cincinnati

Mann said cities across the country have been facing similar issues and passing similar regulations. Mann said he doesn't want Over-the-Rhine, for example, to become 50 percent Airbnb reserved for visitors that takes housing away from city residents.
Mann's proposal will be on Wednesday's full council agenda for referral to a committee for further discussion and a possible vote next week.