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After the company sued New York last week over new regulations, it looks like Airbnb can breathe a little easier in the District—at least for now.
A spokesman for Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, who chairs a newly minted Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs within the D.C. Council, says the subcommittee doesn’t plan to advance a bill introduced in September 2015 that would have created a “special enforcement division” within the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to monitor short-term rentals like those available through Airbnb. Critics have argued that the bill targets the home-sharing company by banning any rental of less than 30 consecutive days where the owner or occupant isn’t present on site and by imposing various permitting requirements, with penalties.
The legislation fell under Nadeau’s purview after former At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange, who chaired the council’s Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs (now broken up into four subcommittees), resigned in August to direct the D.C. Chamber of Commerce. (Orange had already lost in the June Democratic primary to now-At-Large Councilmember Robert White.) A second bill Orange proposed on the same day last September would have limited the number of units a resident could rent through digital marketplaces, but it was withdrawn in November.
“We’re working with DCRA to ensure that all short-term rental properties are following District law but not moving any legislation at this time,” says Tom Fazzini, a spokesman for Nadeau.
That means the bill will lapse at the end of the current council period, on Dec. 31, and would have to be reintroduced next year to be considered. Still, there are regulations on Airbnb-like rentals as of today, including for hosts to obtain a basic business license from DCRA and for them to comply with zoning rules (technically, anyway—the company outlines them here). And with jurisdictions around the country starting to put pressure on tech-based companies like Airbnb and Uber, it’s possible that D.C. lawmakers will eventually propose greater regulations on short-term rentals that are less harsh than what’s previously been floated.
Last month, Airbnb launched a local ad campaign touting the benefits of the platform to D.C. residents. Since then, it’s rolled out data on how much money hosts made over the past year and on a bump in bookings seen during playoff home games for the Washington Nationals. It seems to be the carrot to Airbnb’s litigious stick: In addition to New York, Airbnb has sued San Francisco over allegedly harmful regulations.