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By David W. Myers
Managing Editor 

City Cuts Tax Deal with Airbnb

Owners Who Rent Their Property to Short-Term Tenants will Have to Pay a 14 Percent Surcharge


September 27, 2018

Who Use Nearly 75 local residents showed up last week to discuss possible new regulations on short-term rentals with City officials.

Most of the attendees said they were already renting out all or part of their homes or other property, most of them to vacationers who stays for only a few days or weeks.

Most also sang the praises about companies such as Airbnb but also addressed some of the concerns that many homeowners have raised about the impact short-term rentals have on their neighborhoods.

One key issue seems to have been resolved by the City Council at its Sept. 24 meeting. Councilmembers approved an agreement that calls for Airbnb to begin collecting the same daily 14 percent "transient occupancy tax" that hotels currently pay: The tax will be added on their Airbnb bills and then forwarded to City Hall.

The new pact should help to appease owners and operators of traditional hotel properties, many of whom have complained that they have always had to pay the daily transient tax on their rentals while private homeowners who rented out all or part of their homes did not.

The situation created what the hoteliers said was an "uneven playing field" that favored small owners involved in the short-term rental business.

"Agreements like this allow communities to benefit from the economic impact of home sharing while also making it easier for Airbnb hosts, the vast majority of whom are middle-class people sharing their own home, to comply with local tax laws," said John Choi, Airbnb Public Policy Manager.

"Our community of Culver City hosts wants to pay their fair share of taxes and we are excited to reach this agreement to be able to collect and remit taxes on their behalf."

The new pact, though, does nothing to solve the issues that some neighbors who live on a block where a property is rented to short-term visitors have raised.

Opponents of these temporary rentals have a long-list of complaints. They say that some of these "temporary tenants" throw loud parties, trash their neighborhoods, clog their streets with traffic and steal their parking spots.

They also complain that companies like Airbnb and HomeAway don't thoroughly "vet" their users, and that some homeowners who rent their homes out to short-term tenants don't first check the visitor's background at all.

There's also a public-safety issue.

"Here at the Culver Hotel, we have an extensive fire-safety system that includes a fire-sprinkler system, the City inspects our property on a regular basis, we have to meet the requirements of the government's American with Disabilities Act, and so on," said Seth Horowitz, the hotel's general manager.

"We are highly regulated," Horowitz said. "Airbnb hosts are not."

The community meeting on Sept. 20 was part of the City's ongoing efforts to create a formal policy regarding short-term rentals, said Jesse Mays, assistant to Culver's city manager.

The City hopes to have a final set of regulations sometime early next year, Mays said.


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