One week after the D.C. Council delayed a vote on similar legislation, the Prince George’s County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to ban residents from renting out second homes on short-term platforms such as Airbnb.
The Prince George’s bill, which was passed on the final day of this year’s legislative session, received substantially less pushback from residents than the proposal in the District, where there are many more Airbnb units and discussion has been intertwined with a heated debate about gentrification.
County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) proposed the Prince George’s legislation, which allows short-term rentals of residents’ own homes but not of additional properties. The county for the first time would tax short-term rentals, limit their duration and cap the number of guests at eight. Baker is expected to sign the bill.
Brad Frome, assistant deputy chief administrative officer for public infrastructure, said his office wanted “to allow residents to earn extra income on a limited basis,” but “didn’t want to allow investors and others who don’t care” about neighborhoods to be able to list their properties on short-term rental sites.
“Our primary concern is to minimize the impact of any of these activities on our neighborhoods,” he said.
There are about 1,500 Airbnb listings in Prince George’s, Baker’s office said, compared to nearly 8,000 listings in the District in May 2017, according to Inside Airbnb data.
Council member Mel Franklin (D-District 9) described the lack of regulations in Prince George’s, which has struggled with unregulated parties in rented houses, as “like the wild, wild West.”
The bill prevents homeowners from renting their properties on platforms such as Airbnb for more than 30 consecutive days. They can rent their properties for up to 90 days a year when they are not home, or up to 180 days a year when they are home — but the total number of rental days cannot exceed 180.
Hourly rentals, and rentals for less than 24 hours, are prohibited, an effort to deter prostitution and human trafficking. There can be no more than three guests per bedroom or parking space, and eight guests in all.
Council Chair Dannielle M. Glaros (D-District 3) said the bill does its best to protect the “health and safety” of all residents, and is not as strict as one approved this summer in Fairfax County, which allows residents to rent out their homes for only up to 60 days.
“It’s where we needed to land as a county,” Glaros said.
Homeowners will have to request approval to rent their property from the county’s permitting agency, alert their neighbors that they plan to apply for a short-term rental license and pay an annual licensing fee of $150. Rental platforms will pay the county an annual fee of $2,500.
The Prince George’s bill stalled earlier this year because public safety and fiscal management committee chair Derrick Leon Davis (D-District 6) had concerns about its fiscal impact. It was advanced by the full council last month during a dramatic council meeting that was abruptly adjourned by Glaros and then restarted after she and two others left and Franklin was elected temporary chair.
It would offer matching funds for candidates who agree not to accept donations exceeding $250 and accumulate enough small donors. Officials said the program would cost between $3.7 million and $12.1 million per election cycle, depending on how many candidates participate.
The council approved bills that rewrite the county’s zoning laws for the first time in more than 50 years. Several advocates called for greater transparency about the changes, and council member Andrea C. Harrison (D-District 5) said the new zoning laws “are just as complicated” as the old rules.
Glaros said the rewrite was intended to make the laws more “user-friendly.” She emphasized that the bills are subject to revision and won’t be enacted for at least two years.
The council voted to create an Environmental Crimes Unit in response to complaints from residents about litter and illegal dumping, which would detect, apprehend and prosecute people and organizations who harm the environment, and use education and outreach to deter littering.
The session was the last for four term-limited council members: Mary A. Lehman (D-District 1), Harrison, Karen R. Toles (D-District 7) and Obie Patterson (D-District 8). Lehman and Harrison are running for the House of Delegates, and Patterson is running for state Senate. Franklin will return to the dais in January as one of two new at-large members. Toles unsuccessfully sought an at-large seat.