Portland Proposes Huge Fines for Scofflaw Short-Term Rental Hosts

The Bureau of Development Services is proposing immediate fines of $1,000 to $5,000 dollar for each violation with no grace period.

More than two years after Portland became the first city in the country to pass rules to make short-term rentals legal, the city is now proposing new and more stringent enforcement.

The Bureau of Development Services is seeking to end the city's 30-day grace period that allows owners time to get proper permits if they've failed to do so.

Under the BDS draft rule released today, violations—ranging from $1,000, for first offense, to $5,000, for third offense and thereafter—would be issued each day of "continued violation."

Related: It's easy to find Airbnb hosts flouting the city's short-term rental rules.

Currently, the city issues fines of $707 to $1,414, and only on a monthly basis.

"I want to cry tears of joy," Portland Tenants United organizer Margot Black told WW, before adding "if it's passed and actually enforced."

The proposed fines come after months of reporting by WW showing that Portland's rules were treated like a joke by Airbnb clients. City enforcement has been so lax that even an Airbnb manager had an illegal listing.

Last month, Airbnb released a study conducted by EcoNorthwest, based on data for a year ending in July 2016, showing that only 377 full homes (as opposed to shared spaces) were rented more than three months, as The Oregonian first reported.

It was part of an effort to fight back against the claim from the city and advocates that short-term rentals are one factor driving up the cost of housing in Portland.

"The vast majority of our hosts in Portland are sharing the homes in which they live in order to earn extra money to pay their bills," says Airbnb spokesman Laura Rillos, noting the company sent a letter to Mayor Charlie Hales and the City Council today. "We will continue to encourage all of our hosts to comply with local laws; we remain committed to helping Portland hosts register with the city; and will continue to proactively remove unwanted commercial listings from our platform."

A representatives from BDS did not respond to an immediate request for comment.

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