DC Council Approves Strict Short-Term Rental Regulations

The D.C. Council voted unanimously to enact some of the most restrictive short-term rental regulations in the country.

Home sharing is a growing industry with about 9,000 homes, apartments and rooms for rent in D.C. through companies like Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway.

The new law which would take effect in October if Mayor Muriel Bowser signs it would prohibit homeowners from renting a second home as a short-term rental and limit renting their primary residence to 90 days per year.

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There would be no limit on renting out rooms in a home as long as the homeowner is staying there.

Graylin Presbury of D.C. Federation of Civic Associations said the issue is affordable housing. He believes allowing homes to be rented by the day or week makes it harder for low-income families to rent a home.

“Short-term rentals driving up prices in neighborhoods,” he said.

But for Jackie Havard, who depends on the income from the home she rents out on Airbnb to pay her medical bills, the law is misguided. She tried to rent her home out by the year but couldn’t find any renters, and even if she could it, wouldn’t help with her medical expenses.

“Renting it out long term will just cover the mortgage,” she said. “I won’t be making any extra money to bring into my family.”

While they disagree on the new law, Presbury and Havard seem to be fighting for the same thing — making D.C. affordable for the middle class.

“Families that have been living in the city for generations are losing out,” he said.

“We’re a struggling middle class family, and this feels like a hit to the middle class,” Havard said.

Bowser has expressed concerns about the law but has not said whether she will sign it or veto it. The council appears to have enough votes to override a mayoral veto.

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