WASHINGTON - There is a big fight underway between D.C. and Airbnb as a bill is scheduled to go before the D.C. Council Tuesday proposing to block homeowners from renting out their second homes through Airbnb or other short-term rental companies.
Supporters of the bill say blocking second home rentals would preserve neighborhoods and stop buildings from being turned into virtual hotels with travelers coming and going at all times of the day.
However, opponents say this is massive overreach of government regulation.
"What we see in D.C. is just a hacksaw to everyday people who are making important dollars sharing their homes," said Christopher Nulty, the head of public affairs for Airbnb. "We think that there is a better solution here. We think there are better ways to regulate home sharing and to regulate Airbnb, and we are ready and willing to work with the council to make that happen."
The proposed bill says if you own a second home in D.C., you would not be able to rent it on Airbnb or other home sharing services. There would also be a 90-day cap on renting out your primary home.
Airbnb says outside of New York City and San Francisco, this would one of the most restrictive home sharing regulations in the country.
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson denied Airbnb's claim that the D.C. Council is being manipulated by the hotel industry, which has big concerns about competition from home sharing. Mendelson said he is concerned that if too many properties in the District are turned into short-term home sharing, there will not be enough real rental apartments to go around for people who actually live and work in the city.
"We have a significant affordable housing crisis in this city and to the extent that we are losing units that could be rented out to tenants," said Mendelson. "Losing them to the short-term transient rentals, that actually hurts us with regard to affordable housing."
The lobbying on this bill has been intense as Airbnb has been running commercials around the clock asking D.C. residents to tell the council to reject this bill.