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Seattle May Change Short-Term Rental Rules to Help Locals

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Seattle's Airbnb owners may have to change their ways under new regulations aimed at increasing long-term rental space

Airbnb has become a popular way for property owners to generate income around Seattle. City councilperson Tim Burgess sees their gains as a loss of local long-term rental opportunity. Potential new regulation may tip the scales back in the favor of those looking for places to rent for the long haul.

Under the regulations, only property owners using their primary residence would be allowed to operate short-term rentals year-round, according to Burgess. Those not using their primary residence would be limited to 90 total nights over 12 months.

Property owners would also be required to get a special license from the city in order to rent out their residence for more than 90 days over the course of 12 months as well as acquire liability insurance, safety code declarations, and more.

According to a recent Airbnb report, the new legislation would affect 20 percent of Seattle-based rentals across their service. The other 80 percent are rented for less than 90 days per calendar year on average. While that might not sound like too much, it comes out to roughly 630 entire-home listings that would be affected.

"We don’t know how many of those are primary residences," Burgess said. "But imagine if we put 300 homes back on the long-term rental-housing market. That would be worth a lot. To build 300 new units would cost more than $70 million."

Seattle's most popular Airbnb rentals run the gamut from Downtown studio to U-District cottage to Capitol Hill apartment. Many others are trailers or backyard cottages, which may cause confusion about how they fall under new restrictions.

The question, of course, is whether or not all of these residences will actually have an affect on the rental market. If they become luxury rentals, that doesn't do much for those in need of affordable housing. Also, owners could decide to sell units under new regulations and then they could cease being rentals altogether.
· Seattle may slap new rules on Airbnb to ease the rental crunch [ST]
· Here Are The Most Popular Airbnb Rentals in Seattle [CS]
· How Do 'High-Occupancy' Airbnb Rentals Affect Seattle Rents? [CS] ·