Let Me use HomeAway and Airbnb!

Open the Door to Home Sharing in Montgomery County

With its central location to the historic cities of Washington, DC and Baltimore, Montgomery County (MoCo) has consistently maintained a vibrant real estate market and a robust business travel and tourist economy.

The converging of expensive home prices and high real estate taxes with visitor demand makes MoCo an ideal locale for home sharing — a way for homeowners to earn additional revenue through the short-term renting of their properties.

Nationwide, home sharing has enabled homeowners to offset costs and provided travelers with additional lodging choices that could be more convenient and cost effective than hotels — pumping more money into local economies.

On Tuesday, the MoCo Council will have the opportunity to bring the benefits of the home sharing phenomenon here. Yes votes for Bills 2–16 and 16–03 will provide economic flexibility to the residents of Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Olney and everywhere else in the county.

Helping Families and Workers

By opening the door to home sharing in MoCo, families taking their children to NIH can find better short-term housing and business travelers, coming into town to meet with companies along the I-270 Tech Corridor, will have additional options to stay in MoCo neighborhoods.

The proposed legislation takes a thoughtful approach to home sharing by creating a registration process used by other cities across the country. Home owners would pay a small fee to register and the county would enjoy easier oversight, compliance, and tax collection.

Registration also ensures the home sharing boon to homeowners and visitors also benefits non-participating residents through revenue collection that is funneled back into the local economy and MoCo projects.

Opposing Concerns

Some complain that allowing residents to share their homes with outsiders will “destroy the neighborhood.” These concerns are understandable, but fortunately, they don’t match the reality of the legislation.

The bills have strict home sharing regulations and compliance measures, prohibiting a residential house from becoming a Courtyard Hotel in a colonial’s clothing.

The legislation forbids homeowners from sharing their homes with more than five non-familial members. The duration for each rental is limited to 30 days. Strict licensing requirements and enforcement ensure that owners ignoring the rules are stripped of their short-term rental permits.

These bills enable homeowner associations to enforce existing laws and the freedom to decide whether to increase the monitoring and reporting non-compliant permit holders — choices which are best left to those residents to determine what is right for their local communities.

This is the right path forward.

Other states that embraced home sharing have seen robust compliance. In fact, less than one percent of the registered short-term rental owners in Austin, Texas, have received any nuisance complaints since that city enabled home sharing two years ago.

A Win/Win

In the world of politics, there are not many opportunities for “win/win” legislation. MoCo is already a world class destination for residents and businesses.

A YES vote for Bills 2–16 and 16–03 will only make the county’s appeal even more stronger.

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