The city could pull in an estimated $800,000 in new taxes on short-term rental units by the end of June, aided in part by an agreement with Airbnb to help collect that money.
Prompted by concern that too many units are being taken off Berkeley’s long-term housing market for short-term uses such as Airbnb, the City Council voted Thursday to penalize landlords who rent out multiple properties for less than two weeks.
Tonight the Berkeley City Council will vote on legalizing and regulating short-term rentals, defined as rentals which last for less than fourteen days. Currently, such rentals are illegal in Berkeley, though that hasn’t stopped multi-billion dollar companies such as Airbnb from ignoring the law. With Airbnb’s assistance, certain landlords around the state have been able to remove entire apartment buildings from the long-term rental market by converting them into illegal hotels. In Berkeley alone, 400 rent-controlled units are being used only as short-term rentals. As a result, tenants who otherwise would have been able to live long-term in these units have been displaced, worsening Berkeley’s housing emergency.
Berkeley City Council is attempting to promote creation of long-term housing by reducing restrictions on “granny flats” and “accessory dwelling units” (ADU’s). The state of California similarly has Government Code Section 65583(c)(1). But something crucial is missing: social protection for homeowners.
The new rules also make it clear that owners of multi-unit apartment buildings cannot rent their apartments for less than 14 days.
The Berkeley City Council took a step forward Tuesday night in its effort to regulate short-term rentals in the city, voting almost unanimously on a compromise proposal that will seek to legalize, with restrictions, the contentious issue.
The Berkeley City Council meeting ended abruptly Tuesday night after officials could not agree to extend deliberations until midnight.
This coming Tuesday, June 9th, the Berkeley City Council plans to vote on a set of recommendations to regulate short term rentals, such as those facilitated through websites like Airbnb and VRBO. Following other municipalities, Berkeley’s current proposal seeks to limit short-term rentals in owner or renter occupied units as well as eliminate the ability to rent out accessory dwellings on owner occupied property, including backyard cottages and mother-in-law suites.
This is the first story in a Berkeleyside series on housing. Read the second story on rental rate increases here.