Legal Issues Surrounding Short-Term Rentals
For those who live in the Puget Sound region, it comes as no surprise when another headline proclaims ours as one of the hottest housing markets in the country. Recently, The Seattle Times reported that for five months straight, Seattle registered the sharpest home-price increases of any major market in the U.S. And the trend shows no signs of letting up.
Many factors contribute to this trend. Principally, our home-grown tech companies attract swarms of new homebuyers to the state each year. But another factor is the short-term rental market, driven largely by companies like Airbnb, VRBO, FlipKey, and HomeAway, which provide homeowners and renters with an avenue to rent their homes or apartments to short-term guests. Affordable housing advocates argue that these services reduce the available housing supply by giving homeowners and landlords incentive to rent houses to short-term guests, rather than selling the properties or renting them to long-term tenants.
Short-term rental arrangements present a number of unique legal issues, however. Whether you are renting a room in your home for a little extra income on the side, or advising a startup client that is about to revolutionize the short-term rental market, there are a number of state and local laws to consider. And while the laws surrounding hotels are fairly well established, residential short-term rental laws are in a state of flux, meaning that there are many ongoing discussions—and open issues— that you and your clients should be aware of before jumping into the short-term rental business.