Baltimore City Council approves rules on Airbnb-type rentals; final vote needed

A majority of the Baltimore City Council voted Monday to pass a set of strict rules on renting out property on Airbnb and other online platforms, but the bill didn’t receive enough votes to overcome a procedural hurdle and the council will take it up again at its next meeting.

The vote was 10-3 with two abstentions. After council members voted, Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young said the bill would be considered at the next meeting on Thursday because it failed to secure the 12 votes needed to amend and pass a bill at the same time.

The legislation would require hosts using the rental platforms to register with city authorities and impose a 9.5 percent hotel tax on Airbnb-style stays. It would also ban people from renting properties other than their primary homes.

The proposal would all but put an end to a new industry that had sprung up involving people buying and renovating properties to offer as bookings on Airbnb, HomeAway and other websites.

It does include a grandfather clause that would allow existing hosts to rent their home plus one other property.

Imposing restrictions on Airbnb-type rentals has pitted hosts who use the sites against the hotel industry, whose lobbyists see the rentals’ exemption from many regulations as unfair competition. At a hearing on the bill, hosts said they were willing to accept some regulations, but called on council members not to curtail their businesses.

Requiring the hotel tax on Airbnb-style stays is forecast to raise about $1 million a year. The hotel tax requirement would go into effect at the end of this year; the other restrictions in the legislation would take effect at the end of 2019.

Councilman Eric Costello, the bill’s lead sponsor, introduced an amendment Monday that would ensure residents from outside the city can take advantage of the grandfather clause.

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