During its full meeting last night, the City of Madison’s common council advanced an ordinance that would impose stricter regulations on short-term tourist rentals like Airbnb operations.
The city currently requires that short-term rentals must also be the operator’s primary residence, and prohibits them from renting the house when they are absent for more than a month each year.
Alder Arvina Martin represents part of Madison’s west side. She says the regulations are meant to address concerns that arise when those who run short-term rentals aren’t present, and to prevent them from purchasing homes with the sole purpose of renting them out to tourists.
“[In one case] it led to a lot of problems between the homeowner and the neighbors,” Martin says. “[There was a lot] of concern about the volume of folks renting out the particular property, in terms of how many dates it was occupied but also how many people were staying at one time, which was leading to traffic concerns in a neighborhood that is very residential and has lots of small children.”
Matt Tucker is the Zoning Administrator for the City of Madison.
He says that when the City’s initial ordinance regarding short-term rentals was passed in 2013, property owners had to work separately with zoning, Public Health Madison and Dane County, and the Treasurer’s Office to make sure the building was compliant.
Tucker says that those overlapping requirements made compliance difficult for those renting out their homes.
“We found that even the property owners themselves struggle with compliance on this, and that is why there was renewed interest to revisit the requirements to make a more formal process by which one would work through the city building inspection office to obtain a permit for a tourist rooming house operation in the dwelling unit they occupy,” Tucker says.
Under the proposed ordinance, those who want to run a short-term rental unit would have to provide the zoning administrator with information about ownership and property, proof of license from Public Health, registration with the Treasurer’s Office, floor plans, contact information, a guest registry, and an affidavit confirming the house is their primary residence.
The ordinance would also establish a $100 annual permit through the City that Alder Martin says would fund costs of enforcing compliance.
“We are not looking to price anybody out,” Martin says. “We are looking to make sure we can cover the cost of enforcement of these situations. This is not something that the City is looking to make money off of, we just want to be able to properly enforce the ordinances that we have.”
Currently, a new license through Public Health Madison & Dane County costs $561 dollars, and an annual renewal amounts to $186. Those fees fund Public Health’s licensing program.
Doug Voegeli is the director of Public Health’s Environmental Health Division.
He says the additional regulations could cause Madison’s short-term rental market to shrink.
“Perhaps it’s not profitable for them. Perhaps it’s just too much to go through, too many affidavits or licenses or certificates needed to actually become an operator,” Voegeli says. “Those that are currently operators I could see dropping out just because it gets to be too much.”
The Wisconsin State Journal reports that in 2017, “only 15 to 20 of hundreds of Airbnb and other operators” complied with city requirements. At the moment, Voegeli says 244 operators out of an estimated 382 in the Madison area are compliant.
The proposed ordinance now goes before the plan commission next Monday and the board of public health in two weeks.
From there, the ordinance will go back to the plan commission on February 10th, and then to the full council at the end of next Month.