Baltimore votes to restrict short-term rentals to primary residences
- Dec 11, 2018 | Jennifer Sokolowsky
The Baltimore City Council has voted to pass a new ordinance that will limit short-term rentals to primary residences and require hosts to collect lodging taxes from guests.
The new rules require short-term rental operators to obtain city licenses, which will only be issued for properties that are the primary residence of the host. However, existing operators will be allowed to operate one additional short-term rental unit as long as they take ownership by December 31 of this year. The additional unit must have at least one paid booking between August 1, 2017, and December 31, 2018.
Short-term rental operators will also be required to register with the state for the collection of state taxes. Hosts and online platforms such as Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO are required to start collecting city lodging taxes from guests starting December 31 of this year.
While Airbnb collects lodging taxes on behalf of its hosts in some locations in Maryland, neither Airbnb, HomeAway, nor VRBO currently collects lodging taxes on Baltimore bookings.
That means Baltimore short-term rental operators are responsible for registering with tax authorities, collecting taxes from guests, and remitting taxes to the state and city. MyLodgeTax can help Baltimore short-term hosts automate lodging tax to relieve the burden of lodging tax compliance.
City officials estimate that short-term rentals could generate up to $1 million in tax revenues per year.
Other licensing requirements under the new law will go into effect starting December 31, 2019. Short-term rental licenses will cost $200 and can be renewed every two years.
Hosts must also designate an emergency contact that lives within 15 miles of the rental and provide contact information for this person to guests. Hosts are also required to include the city short-term license number on any advertisement or listing.
The law also requires online short-term rental platforms to make sure that short-term rentals have valid licenses before advertising them and to include rentals’ license numbers in listings.
Airbnb opposed the bill.
“It’s disappointing that city council would pass legally unsound regulations that negatively impact Baltimore City residents. Home sharing is a financial lifeline that helps families pay their rent, mortgage, and other bills. This law will only take money out of the community and help hotel executives further take advantage of the city,” an Airbnb representative said in a statement.
Baltimore is not alone in limiting short-term rentals. Nearby Washington, D.C., recently passed a law that restricts short-term rentals to primary residences and requires them to be licensed. Hosts may only offer short-term rentals for 90 days a year when they’re not present. New York City has also been cracking down on illegal short-term rentals.