When Jordan Schwartz converted his basement in-law apartment in Seattle from a long-term rental to an Airbnb listing, he more than doubled his annual earnings. The huge gains motivated him to turn another apartment, in a three-unit building he owns, into an Airbnb rental, as well.
“We converted one of the units to Airbnb last year, and immediately tripled our income,” said Schwartz, the CEO of Seattle startup Pathable. “As tenants move out, we’re converting the others as well. The second one comes online on Airbnb at the end of this week.”
But those plans may be stymied by new regulations, proposed by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Tim Burgess, aiming to put new restrictions on short-term rentals like those facilitated by Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO.
The proposal splits short-term rental operators into two groups — homeowners who occupy the properties they rent out, and property owners renting out residences they do not occupy. The latter group, Burgess and Murray contend, run their rentals more like a business than a “casual” way to earn extra cash.
If the city enacts the new regulations, short-term rental operators who don’t use their properties as primary residences could not rent them out for more than 90 days per year. The regulations would also require property owners and short-term rentals platforms to obtain new types of licenses. The proposal defines short-term rentals as non-hotel bookings of 29 nights or fewer