Municipalities across Maine and the country are attempting to regulate the spread of Airbnbs in residential neighborhoods. As no one can do anything they want with their property, I wonder why current codes and ordinances don’t seem to apply to this new form of rental.

Building and fire codes have definitions for residential rental units accommodating non-related persons (rooming or boarding houses) for short-term stays. The number of rental rooms, the number of floors and the means of fire egress are also code factors. If a building permit for construction of a new or renovated structure were applied for, construction documents for life safety systems would have to be specified and installed. Are the Airbnbs required to comply with the same life safety standards?

I understand that some municipalities are requiring Airbnbs to register and pay a small fee for an operating license. At a minimum, why not also require the applicant to provide a letter from their insurance company, stating that the structure has been reviewed for the number of rooms to be rented, whether or not the owner will be on site during the stay of any guest, sufficient means of egress and the approval of other life safety systems (smoke and carbon monoxide alarms; sprinklers) for this rental use?

The owner and his or her insurance company should first provide the municipality with documentation that the proposed Airbnb has met a level of public safety standards similar to a traditional bed-and-breakfast or rooming house.

Robert Kahn