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City Council approves new short-term rental regulations in Seattle

The third and final chapter in Seattle's attempt to curb shot-term housing rentals passed unanimously by the City Council Monday. It puts a cap on the number of units one property owner can put on services like Airbnb and VRBO. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - The third and final chapter in Seattle’s attempt to curb shot-term housing rentals passed unanimously by the City Council Monday.

It puts a cap on the number of units one property owner can put on services like Airbnb and VRBO.

For two years, council members have been crafting a way to stop property owners from buying up condos and then renting them out as short-term rentals, thereby decreasing the market of long-term rentals.

The council did make some last minute changes.

In November, the council passed a short-term rental tax of $8 per night for rooms, $14 per night for dwellings licensing fee for all property owners offering short-term rentals.

An amendment that was expected to add an additional $2 a night to pay for administering the tax and licensing program was withdrawn, but the council still approved working legislation that said the tax would be revisited in six months.

Property owners will be allowed to have two short term rentals to include their primary residents and another dwelling. That’s unless you live in the downtown Seattle hotel district. There, property owners can keep all they units they have been operating prior to September 30, 2017.

Councilmembers decided to remove the same exemption for South Lake Union, Belltown, Pioneer Square and Capitol Hill at the last minute.

The votes was 7-0 with councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Debora Juarez absent.

The new rules, taxes and fees tax effect January 1, 2019.

Airbnb applauded the city's new regulations. In a statement Monday afternoon, Laura Spanjian, the company's Public Policy Director for the Northwest region said, "Today’s vote is a landmark win for Airbnb hosts and guests. These rules ensure the overwhelming majority of our hosts can continue to share their homes and earn extra money. Airbnb applauds the City of Seattle for developing a model regulatory framework and we look forward to continuing to work with the city as this new law is implemented.”


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