Airbnb and other services that enable individuals to rent their residences for short stays could be banned in Bexley if City Council approves Ordinance 23-18.
The ordinance would prohibit residents from renting their residences for periods of less than 30 days. The legislation exempts student dormitories and bed-and-breakfast establishments, including the Bexley Bed and Breakfast at 519 S. Drexel Ave. Those who violate the ordinance could be fined up to $500 per day for each day of the prohibited short-term rental.
Councilman Tim Madison, chairman of council's zoning, development and judiciary committee, introduced the legislation Aug. 28. He said the impetus for it was the growing popularity of services such as Airbnb, which, he said, have the potential to create health and safety hazards for what essentially amount to unregulated hotel rooms.
In his law practice, "I defend property rights all the time, but they're not absolute," Madison said at council's second reading of the ordinance on Sept. 4.
"You can't use your home however you want to use your home," he said.
Councilwoman Monique Lampke asked whether the ordinance also bans home exchanges in which no money is involved.
"If it's just an exchange, I'm not getting any money. We may want to capture that" and clarify that free exchanges are also prohibited, Lampke said.
City Attorney Marc Fishel said he and Madison would discuss amending the ordinance's language to reflect that short-term exchanges which don't involve money are also banned.
"We might want to take a look at the language and make it clear whether it's for full and complete consideration" of all temporary stays, Fishel said.
City Auditor Bill Harvey asked how the city would enforce the ordinance and monitor short-term rentals, especially those that occur without a formal arrangement.
"If it's not through something like Airbnb where there is some reporting ... how are you ever going to track that?" Harvey asked.
Residents likely would report violations when they notice people who appear to be short-term renters coming and going from nearby properties, Madison said
"I think we'll find out about it by neighbors calling and complaining," Madison said.
Residents also could notify the city if they come across an online rental listing for a Bexley residence, Fishel said.
"You may find out when a neighbor calls and complains that this address is listed on Craigslist for a short-term rental," he said.
The city may also be tipped off if neighbors mistake short-term rentals for robberies, Councilman Richard Sharp said.
"Most occurrences (of violation notifications) are when the police are called," he said.
Responding to one resident who pointed out that individuals who rent houses in Bexley for short periods while waiting to move in permanently to houses they purchased would violate the ordinance, Madison said, the legislation may need further amendments.
"Maybe we could do some kind of exception for Bexley residents that need that kind of assistance," Madison said.
Council is scheduled to vote on the third and final reading of the legislation at 6 p.m. Sept. 25 at Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St.