My View: Don't punish short-term rental hosts
Recently, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and city Commissioner Nick Fish proposed a dramatic increase in taxes for hosts who provide short-term rentals. Our current tax rate of 13.3 percent would increase to as much as 25 percent per night. The largest hotels are taxed at 15.5 percent. The justification for the taxes is based on the concept that short-term rentals directly harm affordable housing.
The city settled the HomeAway lawsuit with the agreement that their platform would share address and contact information with the city. That will end the "commercial operators" who, no doubt, have been affecting housing. When they are gone, however, the remaining hosts will be the one- and two-bedroom variety who don't significantly impact housing. In fact, our current taxes have contributed millions of dollars directly to the Housing Fund.
We don't believe that the City Council intended to harm short-term rental hosts — their aim was at punishing the platforms and commercial operators. But with commercial operators gone, the platforms simply will pass along any taxes down to us.
People who rent out portions of their homes are the smallest providers of hospitality in the city, and we take great pride in what we do.
Many hosts are women over 60 who depend on their short-term rental income to remain in their homes. We house our neighbors' relatives, grandparents visiting their children and grandchildren, and people moving to our area, as well as tourists who seek a more intimate community experience while in Portland.
We have welcomed permitting. We are proud that we are doing something for affordable housing by paying directly into the affordable housing fund. We are a part of the solution, not the problem. Don't drive us out of business by taxes that are higher than the largest hotels.