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Boise to hold public hearing on ordinance to license short-term rentals

If you want to weigh in on short-term rentals in Boise, you have your chance next week. 

On January 11, Boise City Council will be holding a public hearing on a new proposed ordinance from Mayor Lauren McLean to require a license for short-term rentals, like Airbnb and VRBO. This rule change would require anyone operating a vacation rental in the City of Boise to provide the name, contact information and proof of liability insurance for all of the owners of the property, whether they live in Idaho or elsewhere. 

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The ordinance did not say how much a license would cost to obtain. This amount would be set by Boise City Council if the ordinance passes. 

If you would like to testify, you may do so in person at 6 p.m. on the third floor of Boise City Hall. You can also Zoom in to the meeting here

A divided city

Short-term rentals are a point of contention in Boise and in other cities across the country. Homeowners groups, like Protect Boise Neighborhoods, say short-term rentals impact residential neighborhoods with disruptive parties, parking concerns and raise questions about safety. Some also say short-term rentals remove what otherwise would be affordable, long-term rentals from the market and drive up the prices for units elsewhere. 

But, groups like Boise Regional Realtors say regulating these operations is a violation of private property rights. Those arguing against the rule say adding more red tape to these operations would make it more difficult for homeowners to use short-term rentals to supplement their own income and stay in their homes as property taxes rapidly rise

Under state law, cities are prevented from outright banning short-term rentals, but they can be regulated to protect the health and safety of the community. Cities in other parts of Idaho, particularly in resort areas, have already required them to be licensed to operate. 

Boise City Council members were also split on the idea when it came before them in a work session last year.

What are the details?

McLean’s proposal would require each short-term rental property owner to have property owner contact information, the physical address of the rental, a detailed floor plan as well as the name and all properties owned by someone out-of-state must have a local representative to address concerns. The city would also require a list of amenities provided, proof of liability insurance and information about which websites the owner uses to advertise the rental. 

Short-term rentals would also be required to have a liability insurance policy of at least $1 million or rent out the space solely on a platform that provides equal or greater liability coverage. 

All licenses would need to be renewed annually and could be suspended or revoked. Violating the ordinance would result in a general misdemeanor. 

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Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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