Real Estate

Seattle passes sweeping short-term rental laws, limits Airbnb hosts to two units

Hosts must also be licensed by city

Homeowners and landlords in Seattle who want to rent out their property via short-term rental services like Airbnb are about to have a whole new set of laws they have to comply with.

Most notable among the new laws passed this week by the Seattle City Council is a new regulation that limits short-term rental hosts to only two units.

And that’s not all.

GeekWire has the details:

The council approved a new set of regulations designed to prevent property owners from operating Airbnbs and other short-term rentals as if they were hotels. The legislation is part of a larger effort to ensure an adequate supply of long-term rental stock for the city’s permanent residents.

The new rules limit hosts to two dwelling units each and require them to obtain special licenses to operate short-term rentals. The regulations also require short-term rental platforms — like Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO — to obtain a special “platform license” to facilitate bookings in Seattle.

The laws don’t limit all hosts to two units. There are some exceptions.

Again from GeekWire:

The amended legislation approved Monday exempts some Airbnb hosts from the two-unit maximum. Hosts already operating a short-term rental in the “Downtown Urban Center” (south of Olive Way and north of Cherry St.) will not be subject to any limits on the number of units they can rent. Outside of the downtown core, hosts who were already operating a short-term rental by Sept. 30, 2017 will be permitted to rent out their primary residence and an additional two units. New Airbnb hosts are limited to just two units total.

Airbnb welcomed Seattle's new rules. 


“This vote is a landmark win for Airbnb hosts and guests,” Laura Spanjian, Airbnb public policy director, Northwest, said in a statement provided to HousingWire. “These rules ensure the overwhelming majority of our hosts can continue to share their homes and earn extra money. Airbnb applauds the City of Seattle for developing a model regulatory framework and we look forward to continuing to work with the city as this new law is implemented.”

The Seattle Hotel Association also welcomed the new short-term rental rules. 

“Treating short-term rentals with an equal commitment to the safety of visitors is the right thing to do, and it will ensure that Seattle remains a safe and welcoming place for guests, wherever they choose to stay,” said Shannon Sheron, president, Seattle Hotel Association, a nonprofit, voluntary organization of more than 60 hotels.

“It’s very gratifying to see Seattle come together on an important issue,” Sheron added. “We are pleased that, with today’s vote, Seattle short-term rentals will have to be licensed, will pay appropriate taxes, and will provide commonsense protections for visiting guests.”

[Update: This article is updated with a statement from Airbnb.]

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