Council: Short-Term Rental Operators Must Live at Property Year-Round

During its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 12, Council reviewed two ordinances relating to short-term rentals in the City of Everett.

The first ordinance outlined a number of requirements for the operators of short-term rentals managed through booking sites like Airbnb. One stipulation was that rental operators must demonstrate that either they or a property manager lives at the property nine months out of the year.

But Victoria Sinnickson and her husband, Paul Spring, of 193 Nichols St., felt that the ordinance didn’t go far enough to protect abutters. They urged Council to amend the language to require rental operators to live at their properties year-round.

The pair had previously appeared before Council to alert members to an Airbnb in their building that was the site of raucous activity at all hours of the day and night.

“If they only need to reside there for nine months, we will have the entire two-family home operating as a hotel, with no one monitoring if the renters disrupt the neighborhood,” said Sinnickson, reading from a prepared statement.

Speaking on behalf of rental owners was Airbnb operator Louis Milan of 191 Broadway St., who said he currently had more than 1,000 five-star reviews. He claimed that a few bad apples were ruining the short-term rental market for other operators.

“A few hosts don’t know what they’re doing and they affect us,” said Milan. “I think our activity is good for our city. We tell our guests to support businesses around the casino area.”

Council ultimately sided with Sinnickson, amending the language in the ordinance to require that operators of short-term rentals live at the property 12 months of the year. Operators can be actual owners or property managers, and must be available 24/7 to respond to emergencies or neighbor complaints.

The amended ordinance will be published in the newspaper for public viewing and will come before Council for a final vote at its next regular meeting on Nov. 25. Council can still make additional changes until that time. The short-term rental debate is currently raging in cities throughout the country, with legislatures scrambling to impose new restrictions on operations. According to Los Angeles Magazine, the West Coast city recently delivered a huge blow to rental owners, mandating that they can only rent out their units 120 days per year, slicing potential earnings by two-thirds.

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