DC Council Votes Down Air B&B In Historic Vote

D.C. Lawmakers Vote to Restrict Short-Term Rentals in the Nation’s Capital

Passed by the D.C. Council last Fall by a 9-4 vote, the Short Term Rental Regulation of 2018 sets forth a comprehensive set of laws aimed at regulating the short-term rental housing market in the District of Columbia.  The new laws serve to limit the number of days a primary residence may be rented each year, and altogether prohibit homeowners from renting their non-primary residences on a temporary basis through Airbnb and similar short-term booking platforms.  Scheduled to take effect in October 2019, the Bill mandates that booking platforms provide the city detailed monthly reports on all D.C. rentals to ensure compliance with the strict limitations of the Bill. 

In January, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser stated that she would neither support nor sign the Bill, reasoning that the laws are likely to be deemed unconstitutional by reviewing courts.  In support of her position, the Mayor cites to similar legislation in New York City that was recently overturned by a federal judge as a violation of the Fourth Amendment guarantee against illegal searches and seizures.  Specifically, the court found that the mandate requiring booking platforms to report the identity of hosts and renters to the city for the purposes of enforcement constituted an unlawful invasion of privacy. Comparable legislation has, however, been upheld in California.  

While the Bill is still scheduled to take effect in October following congressional review, the city may be wise to temper the reporting requirements in an effort to avoid constitutional challenges akin to those in New York.  However, without such requirements, enforcement of the short-term rental restrictions would be practically impossible.

In the wake of the controversial Bill, District of Columbia homeowners are left questioning the legality of their short-term rental units come October.  In its current form, thousands of D.C. residents stand to be impacted by the short-term housing ban. In addition to the millions of tourists that visit the District of Columbia each year, the nation’s capital also serves as a transitory destination for tens of thousands college interns, government workers, and diplomatic aids, many of whom rely heavily on these rental platforms as a means of sourcing affordable rental housing in the pricy D.C. market.  

Under the new laws, rental housing and hotel prices are likely to skyrocket due to the decreased availability of short-term units in the District.  Additionally, D.C. homeowners who rely on these booking platforms to rent their secondary properties will find themselves searching for alternative methods to supplement their primary income. 

As Summer reaches its peak, homeowners would be prudent to remain updated on the progress of this contested legislation.  Lawmakers have urged short-term rental providers to develop a plan of action in the event the Bill passes in either its current form or some amended fashion.  

For more information on DC short term rentals, doing business with Air B&B or DC landlord-tenant law please contact Nicole Monteith at 202-803-5676 or on the web www.Antonlegal.com.