City of Toledo may soon regulate short-term rentals

·3 min read

May 17—Property owners with short-term rentals in Toledo could soon have to apply for a permit in order to legally operate.

Toledo City Council members Theresa Gadus and Katie Moline intend to introduce legislation at Tuesday's agenda review meeting that they believe would help keep neighborhoods safe and operators accountable. The permit requirement would apply to units rented for 30 days or less, including those hosted through sites like Airbnb and Vrbo.

The regulations would establish a maximum occupancy of the unit at two occupants per sleeping room plus an additional two guests. It also would impose safety standards including fire safety and carbon monoxide monitoring, as well as requiring contact information for a local representative who would be available 24/7 to address complaints or concerns within 45 minutes of notification.

Both council members said the legislation is resident-driven and based on concerns about large, disruptive parties at short-term rentals.

"It was a request from neighbors. I had a neighborhood that reached out to me during the pandemic, and there was a giant house party and they weren't sure what to do," Ms. Gadus said. "When we decided to start looking into this, I wanted to address their concerns about safety and communication."

The annual permit would come with a $50 fee, and the applicant must carry proof of general liability insurance of at least $1 million and be current or on a payment plan for taxes and utilities. Any property owner operating a short-term rental without a valid permit would be subject to a $100 weekly fine with a maximum of $500, according to the legislation.

State-licensed health-care facilities, hotels, inns, and motels, bed and breakfasts properly approved by the City of Toledo, campgrounds, and dwelling units rented according to a written month-to-month lease would not be considered short-term rentals under the proposal.

Sonny Blevins has a basement apartment in his South Toledo home that he's been renting through Airbnb since 2017. He is considered a "superhost" by Airbnb and said he has hosted nearly 4,000 guests and welcomed renters from 38 different countries. In addition to meeting new people and showing off Toledo, he said operating a short-term rental has changed his life financially.

He said the proposal set to go before city council doesn't seem too restrictive, but he is worried it could lead to increased regulations in the future that would be harmful to his business.

"I don't think it's too overstepping, but I own this house. How are you going to change the rules after I own this house?" he said. "I don't want any restrictions, but I will follow the guidelines."

Mr. Blevins said he doesn't think short-term rentals are an inherent problem, as hosts and renters alike should extend the same neighborhood courtesy they would expect from others. He believes the problems come with people who rent a full house rather than a room or an apartment, and with those who rent to locals.

"Those people rarely last on Airbnb because it gets torn up after a couple parties," he said.

Ms. Moline said the legislation is intended to promote public safety, neighborhood accountability, and eliminate nuisances.

"This should not disrupt normal and intended uses of services such as Airbnb and short-term rentals," she said. "It has been used for non owner-occupied parties that have been really frustrating to neighbors, especially during the pandemic. We're really focused on ensuring safety and accountability."

The public can watch Toledo City Council's agenda review meeting at 2 p.m. Tuesday online at toledo.legistar.com.

First Published May 17, 2021, 3:17pm

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