Dear Claire: What Should I Know about Current Airbnb Rules in Portland, OR?
Discovering Airbnb Opportunities in Portland and How to Navigate Short-Term Rental Licensing for Property Owners
I’ve had a lot of people asking me about Airbnb because it’s a great way to make money, especially if you live in Portland. The City of Portland of course is concerned with our housing crisis because we don’t have enough housing for the people that live here. They don’t really want units that could be rented to other people for the long-term to be just be used for short-term rentals. What they’re doing is requiring on Airbnb that you have a short-term license. I just did this process for my house for when we’re out of town on vacation. It is a 6-page application and then you also have to send letters to all of your neighbors, notifying them about the potential for an Airbnb. The City of Portland website will show you exactly who in the neighborhood needs to receive notification. There is a limit on how many days a year you can rent your house out on Airbnb, so you can’t just move into your friend’s house, sleep on his couch, and rent your house forever. You definitely want to get this license, as the fines are significant. We’re talking thousands of dollars for a single offense due to not having a short-term permit. After you submit all this to the City, send all those letters to your neighbor, and then you wait. Then the City sends back a notice that you have to schedule an inspection and a City inspector has to come out inspect your property. Make sure you have the right number smoke alarms, the right number of carbon monoxide alarms, and the correct amount of windows to escape out of the bedroom. They’re looking at everything to make sure the safety looks the way they need it to. Sometimes they might say you need another smoke alarm, you need another carbon monoxide alarm, you need to have better railing system on your patio, etc. They can pretty much say whatever they think is a safety and health issue that has to be remedied before you can rent it out. This isn’t a quick process and is going to take some planning and some effort. I do know several people in town that assisting with this is all they do. You pay them a couple grand and they submit your Airbnb application for you. For the rest of us this is totally something you can do.
You just have to be very detailed and make sure you fill it out everything correctly. Make sure everything’s done the way the City wants it to be done. Once all that submitted, once you get the inspector out there, they’ll give you your permit number, which is what you want to put on Airbnb’s website. Eventually the City sends you a certificate that says you’re approved for a short-term license.
Lastly, these licenses cannot transfer to a new owner, if you sell your house. The new owner has to go through the whole entire process again.
I haven’t heard of anyone being fined yet for going over the amount of days that they allocate that you can have it on Airbnb, but I suspect it is coming. So I’ll keep you updated as soon as I hear with any other additional rules that the City comes out with when they do.
I hope you’re all well and I hope you have a great week. Take care.
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