The American Hotel & Lodging Association isn’t shy about its antagonism towards startups like Airbnb, which siphon revenue from hotels by making it easy for travellers to rent a spare bedroom or couch in someone’s house.
Now the AHLA is trying to spur local governments to crack down on the short-term rental threat. The AHLA is circulating new “model legislation” that it hopes state and city lawmakers will adapt to regulate the startups.
The ready-made rules would make homeowners seeking to rent out their homes on home rental sites like Airbnb to jump through a number of hoops — some of which could be dealbreakers, like a $2,500 registration fee and restricting rentals to only if the resident is only at home. And the rules, if adopted, could open the spigot to a new flow of revenue for local governments — a nice incentive for lawmakers to consider the draft regulations.
A copy of the model legislation obtained by Business Insider and confirmed by the AHLA spells out the “model” steps home residents would have to go through before renting their home on sites like Airbnb or VRBO.
To the hotel industry group, the fill-in-the-blank document is intended to help legislators craft their own regulation and force these startups to play by the rules that hotels are already abide by. The laws in place don’t take into account the burgeoning short term rental industry.
“There needs to be a legal and level playing field,” AHLA spokeswoman Rosanna Maietta told Business Insider.
The documents show exactly what the hotel lobby thinks lawmakers need to implement to make that playing field level:
- Each rental provider would have to pay a $2,500 fee to register their units. Given Airbnb’s half a million listings, that would generate around $1.25 billion for local governments.
- In return, all short term listing providers, like Airbnb, would have to pay $10,000 to register and $60 per unit on the site. That’s around $30 million back to government from a company like Airbnb.
- An online database would list addresses and contact information for every rental unit. The site must also have a confidential form to file complaints against listings.
- All units would have to have a health & safety inspection.
- Short-term rental listing services must share all data with cities necessary to enforce the provisions. All units must be licensed with the cities and have the registration numbers posted online.
- “Home Sharing Only”: No residential unit could be used as a short-term rental unless the person is residing there when the unit is rented.
- Rentals in rent-controlled or affordable housing buildings would be prohibited unless the renter is residing in the unit and just renting out other bedrooms.
- Guests would have to be 21 and older to book a rental.
The distribution of the model legislation comes at a time when politicians throughout the country are grappling with how to regulate the short term rentals. A recent law passed in New York dealt a major blow to Airbnb, and now the company is suing. It’s also sued its hometown of San Francisco over its short term rental laws. However, other states, like Arizona, have passed Airbnb-friendly legislation that it believes should be the bar of the future.
Maietta cautioned that AHLA’s “model legislation” is an evolving document, but it’s clear if the hotel industry has its way though, it would be the one of the toughest pieces of legislation that Airbnb has faced.
While it’s unlikely that this would be adopted whole-sale by any city or state, the model legislation does hit some of the AHLA’s biggest anti-Airbnb talking points: namely, the commercial use of residential properties without a regard to safety or security. The new documents reveal that the AHLA is done pontificating about the need for regulation and it’s serious about getting its viewpoints passed into law.
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