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Monday, March 20, 2017

Local governments can regulate Airbnb rentals

This Annandale house is listed on Airbnb for $75 a night.
The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation that would allow local governments to regulate short-term home rentals, such as those arranged through Airbnb and similar companies.

The legislation, which is expected to be signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, also sets up a statewide mechanism for collecting taxes on short-term rentals.

Under the law, which takes effect July 1, localities would be authorized to create a registration process for these rentals and could impose fines up to $500 if homeowners don’t register.

“This legislation will give localities more control over this important and growing industry,” said Sen. Dave Marsden. Lawmakers forged an important balance that will allow Airbnb to continue to operate in the state but will ensure they are on a level playing field with bed and breakfasts and hotels.”

Del. Kaye Kory called the measure “a good first step.”  It’s not a mandate, so localities don’t have to do anything, she notes; this just gives them the authority to do so. Airbnb hosts who don’t register or pay taxes could be charged with having an illegal home-based business.

Fairfax County hasn’t yet drafted an ordinance on short-term rentals. If such an ordinance is approved, it would be up to the Department of Code Compliance to enforce it. 

A forum on short-term rentals hosted by the Mason District Council of Community Associations in October drew a huge crowd. Many local residents called for tighter regulations, citing such potential problems as loud parties, strangers in the neighborhood, and reduced property values.  

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