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Town of Herndon Explores Ways to Regulate Airbnb-Style Rentals

by Fatimah Waseem August 7, 2018 at 12:00 pm 7 Comments

In an effort to break its silence on regulating short-term rentals through websites like Airbnb, Town of Herndon officials are contemplating ways to regulate the growing market, which often pits homeowners seeking to make a profit against neighbors seeking to control noise and maintain safety.

The town’s planning commission is considering a zoning ordinance change that would allow residents to rent out their entire home for up to 90 days per year, so long as occupants are limited to six adults and parking is available. In return, residents must buy a $200 permit, which is active for two years, and undergo a property inspection. No restrictions on renting a room or portion of the property are imposed so long as the operator lives in the residence.

Efforts to regulate the burgeoning industry were set into motion last year when the state’s General Assembly approved legislation allowing localities to regulate short-term rentals. Just last week, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved its own set of regulations. After feedback from the public, the board made its regulations more restrictive by scaling back its definition of short-term rentals from a maximum of 90 days to 60 days.

Preliminary conversations about ways to oversee short-term rentals have begun at Reston Association. However, no formal plans or guidelines have been introduced yet.

The Town of Herndon’s proposal was modeled after Fairfax County’s plan, David Stromberg, the town’s zoning administrator told Reston Now. Yesterday’s public hearing on the proposal will continue during the planning commission’s September meeting. Changes may be proposed based on feedback from the public, he said.

“Nothing has been on the books. We’re trying to do regulations appropriately so that people who are doing short-term rentals can get their permits,” Stromberg said. “And if there are problems, we can do enforcement if necessary.”

It’s unclear how much revenue permits could generate for the town. Other area jurisdictions like Arlington County limited short-term rentals to 180 days while Alexandria has no limit.

Photo via Airbnb

  • Bubble

    Soon if not already there will be a glut of rental vacancies on a commercial scale so the average citizen shoild not burden oneself with trivial pursuits like passive income.

    • Scott

      Yes, simply continue to toil, scape by, and complain about the rich getting richer. Whatever you do, do not ever try to generate a 2nd source of income, especially a passive one that works for you even when you’re not working. SMH

      • Bubble

        See Noelle’s comment above which pretty much sums it up: It wouldn’t be worth the time for most people to rent their entire space if they have to get permits and inspections

        So what that basically means – to you the airbnb host – is that your kid/wife/maid makes the bed, does the dishes, and then – poof – another guest. That is easy money, more or less tax free, you can do this in your sleep basically (passive income). Now raise the bar a little higher, add a permit and perhaps a registration and now your whole business model falls apart.

        But not for the shareholders and owner of airbnb, and also not for their best clients – the corporate host. But what you end up with is an internet economy that taxes and extorts its toil on the 95% and victor takes home the cake so to speak. Do you believe in this, this “dream”? If so Amazon, Uber, Lyft, etc would love to hear from you: you work all day and end up earning food and shelter, maybe pay your utilities and they take the rest without moving a finger, well maybe one.

        On top of that many of these internet companies that cater to us are in fact recipients of corporate welfare. So ask yourself, is that what you promote?

        • Scott

          Good luck comrade. SMH

    • Greg

      Renting space in one’s home usually does not generate passive income.

      Some absentee landlords may generate passive income, but most in the AirBnB category don’t.

  • It wouldn’t be worth the time for most people to rent their entire space if they have to get permits and inspections. Then they could just rent it as a normal rental unit instead. But, I don’t think this is going to solve whatever problems they believe AirBnB causes.

  • Patricia Havrin

    It is more then passive income. It pays tuition, brings in money during job transitions, loss of a family member, for medical bills, home maintenance. Income that gives entrepaneurs more time to make ends meet while building a business. My 2009 Masters Degree resulted in NO job opportunities. (I am older) When I do get a job….the reality is I can make more in four days of renting out my flat, then I do in working four days. And, with renting out part of my home, while I live in it, I have time to work on a side business.

    I own a built as 1931 two flat in a NorthShore Chicago community. It is the only built as two flat in an area surrounded by million dollar homes. It was in horrible condition when we bought it. We fixed it up, live in the bottom half and rent out the top, trying to have long term Sept thru June tenants and then in summer using AirBNB to fill in between family visits and to use AIRBNB while trying to find a good tenant.

    There were 4 homes in our town of 6,000 doing airbnb for 2 years with NO problem. My neighbor did not like it when I started, began vicious slander campaign, threatened to sue the town if they allowed AirBNB as it would decrease property values, etc. etc….. Finally a pilot program ordinance was created….and NO ONE has applied for one of six permits to short term rent because the restrictions are ridiculous. And, if a property owner does open their door to a guest for less then 30 days (while the homeowner is living in the house) and does not have a permit, they will be subject to a 5,000 per night fine. Nothing like pitting neighbor against neighbor.

    And, as icing on the cake….even if I want to I cant apply for the permit because they put in an unjustified ordinance detail that no homeowners with driveways within five feet of another can rent out a room in their home for less then 30 days. I have a thee car garage and ample driveway parking..doesn’t matter.. My neighbor has more political influence. What people need to know is that any town can put in any regulation at any time to exclude and harm or entitle any person…If you want more info on my experience, see LB Responsible Home Sharing Group (Facebook Page) It was originally titled Keep Lake Bluff Liveable.

    Income through AirBNB makes a huge difference in peoples lives. Ask the widow, or senior or new business owner. Ask the young family trying to promote their hometown while bringing in income.

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