NEWS: Group Including Airbnb Pushes Back on Portland’s Plan to Toughen Short-Term Rental Rules

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Willamette Week | Portland | December 17th, 2014 | by Aaron Mesh

Airbnb is marshaling other home-sharing sites to fight Portland City Hall plans to crack down on unlicensed hosts.

City Council is scheduled to vote Dec. 18 on an ordinance that would fine online rental marketplaces $500 each time a host advertises a rental without posting a city permit number.

Airbnb, HomeAway, TripAdvisor andFlipKey—working through a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group called the Short Term Rental Advocacy Center—say they don’t want to be held responsible for providing clients’ tax information.

They call it “a violation of the privacy of the platforms’ end users.”

In a letter to City Council, the lobbying group centers its ire mainly on a Revenue Bureau proposal to force short-term rental companies to collect taxes and report transactions to the city.

“The city already has tools at its disposal to ensure compliance,” the letter says. “Implementing a system that seeks to deputize short-term rental platforms as a policing mechanism is clearly just an abdication of responsibility by the city of Portland.”

Airbnb on its own has already spent $47,614 lobbying City Council this year.

WW reported in November that only 4 percent of Airbnb rentals had bothered to apply for licenses (and undergo inspections) since the city required them in August.

Bureau of Development Services inspector Mike Liefeld says the city has now received 105 license applications—or 6.5 percent of those operating in the city.