City of Portland Announces Regulations for AirBnb Owners (and all Landlords!)

City of Portland Announces Regulations for AirBnb Owners (and all Landlords!)

In the hustle and bustle of holiday season, Portland landlords may have missed an important rule that the City of Portland announced today: all landlords, including Airbnb hosts, must file a registration form with the City and pay an annual fee by January 1, 2016. Landlords and hosts can be fined daily for failing to register.

The landlord registration announcement follows the tragic Noyes Street fire of November 1, 2014, that killed six people. That fire led to calls for greater City oversight of landlords, and Portland later established a new Housing Safety Office staffed with several fire inspectors.

Today’s announcement requires any property owner who rents any portion of their property to file a form with the City by January 1, 2016. That form requires landlords to detail the measures they have in place to reduce fire risks, including smoke detectors, emergency exits and hallway lighting. The landlord must also pay a $35 annual fee, although they can reduce the fee considerably by taking the City’s recommended fire safety steps.

Landlords must also provide the name of an authorized agent, a Maine resident who will accept service of legal papers on their behalf in the event of a lawsuit or other legal proceeding.

The Portland registration procedure applies to people who use Airbnb or similar services to rent their homes (or even single rooms) on a short-term basis. It even appears to apply to people who advertise their rooms on Airbnb-type services, whether or not they have had guests yet.

We’re not sure yet to what extent the City is going to police landlords who are not in compliance, but it is a good opportunity to take the time to ensure your building is as safe as it can be, and that your ownership structure and entity (if applicable) are properly established to meet your business goals.  If you are a landlord, or rent your place or a room on a shared economy service like AirBnb, Home Away, or VRBO, please take notice, and if you need help navigating these waters, don’t sit on your hands!

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