Seattle’s short-term rental legislation is one vote away from final approval

On Tuesday, Dec. 5, the short-term rental regulatory bill—the final piece of legislation in the Seattle City Council’s short-term rental package—passed out of committee.  It will go before the full council on Monday, Dec. 11 for final approval.

Two other short-term rental (STR) ordinances have already been passed by the council, a land use ordinance and a tax ordinance that establishes an $8 per night tax for a room and $14 per night tax for an entire unit. The revenue generated by the tax will go to equitable development projects and affordable housing.

The regulatory bill as passed out of the Planning, Land Use & Zoning Committee is an important win for our industry.

It provides basic protections for the health and safety of guests, such as requiring the posting of basic safety information, a signed declaration that the unit is up to code and a local contact information. It also has a liability insurance requirement.

It requires licensing and fees of hosts and platforms. Platforms must get a special license from the city and hosts must have a business license and a special STR license and pay an annual license fee of $75.

It requires hosts to post their license numbers on listings and establishes monetary penalties and the possible revocation of a license for non-compliance.

The bill also added in a primary residence requirement for any new operators and places limits on the number of units per operator with a few exceptions. The decision to not grandfather in all existing multi-unit operators is another win for our industry. As proposed, the STR ordinance:

  • Any new operators are restricted to listing their primary residence plus one additional unit.
  • Allows existing operators in certain limited areas to continue renting out the number of units they operate now, plus their primary residence and one additional unit. These areas are downtown, Uptown and South Lake Union and for units in small buildings constructed before 2012 on First Hill and Capitol Hill.
  • Other existing operators outside those areas can list two units, and after a year, they can add their primary residence as a third unit.

If passed by the full council on Dec. 11, the regulatory ordinance, like the land use and tax ordinances will go into effect in 2019.

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