Portland short-term rental registrations surge in January

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PORTLAND — Registration fees from short-term housing rentals generated more than $77,500 in revenue for the city through Jan. 16.

The fees from the registration of 394 units available to be rented for fewer than 30 days at a time are spread across 293 properties, according to data from a Jan. 24 meeting of the City Council Housing Committee.

The committee, led by Councilor Jill Duson, also reviewed possible policy initiatives to pursue this year. It is seeking public input by Feb. 6 via an online survey.

The committee next meets on Feb. 7, at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.

City councilors approved the regulation of short-term rentals in March 2017, to take effect Jan. 1. Along with the registrations, the units will be inspected by the city.

Data provided by city Housing Program Manager Victoria Volent showed a surge in registrations of short-term rental units this month, after the city reported 316 registrations on 226 properties as of Dec. 27, 2017. 

The regulations also cap the number of short-term rental units in non-owner-occupied buildings on the city’s mainland at 300, but that cap has not been reached.

Fees are assessed on a sliding scale, with units in non-owner-occupied buildings charged double those in owner-occupied residences if three or more units are involved. Fees begin at $100 and can reach $4,000 per unit in non-owner-occupied buildings of five or more units.

Discounts are available on the same scale as those for long-term rental units, but are capped at $20.

Volent said the city has also hired an outside contractor to monitor internet listings for short-term rentals.

“Monthly reports of the full address, contact information, and registration compliance, as well as weekly screen shots of all active listings, will be provided for all identifiable short-term rentals,” Volent said.

Owners operating unregistered short-term rentals can be assessed civil fines of up to $100 per day.

The annual registration fees will cover administrative costs for inspecting and regulating the rentals, with the remainder deposited in the city’s Housing Trust Fund.

The city is also developing a database of the registered units.

Policy survey

The public is being asked to pick five policy topics for the Housing Committee to work on this year.

Within the list of initiatives are amending the city inclusionary zoning regulations that now set aside 10 percent of housing units in developments with more than 10 units under construction to market to people earning no more than 120 percent of the area median income.

Possible amendments to the rules are reducing the income standards for the housing set-asides, increasing the percentage of required set asides and eliminating the ordinance six-year expiration date. Inclusionary zoning rules were passed Oct. 19, 2015, and allow developers to pay $100,000 per affected unit instead of building the affordable housing.

The policy initiatives also include linkage fees requiring hotel developers to pay into the city housing programs, setting aside $250,000 annually for rental assistance programs, and assisting low-income homeowners facing foreclosures.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.