PORTLAND — The City Council Housing Committee on Wednesday will address short-term rentals after the company hired to monitor listings found 150 noncompliant units.

Host Compliance, hired by the city to audit short-term rental advertisements, last month sent notices of violation to 150 property owners who were advertising units for rent that were not among the 400 non-owner occupied short-term rentals registered with the city.

There are a total of 800 registered owner- and non-owner occupied short-term rentals.

According to correspondence from Associate Corporation Council Anne Torregrossa and Licensing and Registration Coordinator Jessica Hanscombe to members of the committee, the letter from Host Compliance prompted some owners to try to register their units. But they were unable to because the cap had been reached.

The city estimates 40 percent of the non-compliant non-owner occupied short-term rental properties hadn’t been registered before and 35 percent had been, but those registrations had lapsed.

The city allocates permits on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the cap is reached, a waiting list is created. Short-term rentals, as defined by the city code, are “the letting of a rental unit, in whole or in part, for less than” 30 days. Individuals can only have five short-term rentals (regardless of if they are owner-occupied or not) each year.

Councilor Spencer Thibodeau, a Housing Committee member, said part of the discussion at the June 12 meeting will center on what to do about owners whose registrations have lapsed.

“Since we’ve reached the cap, the question is, what do we do with someone who has complied in the past, but missed the boat this year,” he said.

Thibodeau said he doesn’t know “what the answer is, but we’ve got to take this issue up.”

The letter from Torregrossa and Hanscombe indicated that for property owners who had previously registered their non-owner occupied short-term rentals in 2018, but failed to renew for 2019, “we anticipate giving them until the fall to wrap up existing bookings and charging a compromised civil penalty in the range of $500 per month.”

Mayor Ethan Strimling said he doesn’t favor that approach.

“I have made it clear to the city manager, I don’t support allowing those 150,” Strimling said June 5.

The terms of that arrangement, however, would depend on how long the unit has been in violation and the reason it was not renewed.

The city will “likely not pursue any civil penalty,” the letter from Torregrossa and Hanscombe said, for individuals who either register their unit (if it can be registered) or stop renting their units without additional staff time or effort.

As the review of short-term rentals continues, city officials are also looking into unregistered long-term rentals.

Michael Kelley can be reached at 780-9106 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter:@mkelleynews

The Portland City Council Housing Committee on Wednesday, June 12, will discuss how to deal with 150 property owners who are operating unregistered short-term rentals.


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