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Columbus City Council To Vote On Airbnb Regulations

Adora Namigadde
An Airbnb owned by Columbus resident Scott Haskett. A new ordinance would add more regulations to local Airbnb listings.

Columbus City Council is scheduled to vote Monday evening on a measure that would regulate the short-term rental industry.

Columbus wants to regulate short-term rentals as options like Airbnb rise in popularity. There are more than 300 local listings on Airbnb’s website, but no local government oversight over the industry.

The ordinance would define short-term rentals as “any dwelling that is rented wholly or partly for a fee for less than thirty (30) consecutive days by persons other than the permanent occupant or owner from which the permanent occupant or owner receive monetary compensation.” Short-term rentals would be differentiated from hotels or motels.

If the ordinance passes, people who rent out their homes would have to get annual permits. Permit fees have not been decided yet.

All short-term rental hosts would also have to get liability insurance for their properties.

If the ordinance passes, the city's Director of Public Safety will establish associated permit fees and costs, with a portion of that revenue supporting affordable housing in Columbus. It is not clear how large that portion would be.

WOSU interviewed Airbnb hosts in January about the potential legislation. They were happy to see the industry get regulations in Columbus because that could legitimize their business, but expressed concern that they could end up paying taxes like hotels without reaping the benefits.

“If these hotels get a benefit from Experience Columbus by being referred, they’re on their website, will we have a similar advantage?" said Airbnb rental owner Scott Haskett. "If you want a level playing field, we would love a level playing field as well."


Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.