Sonoma County extends temporary ban on new short-term vacation rentals
- Jan 24, 2018 | MyLodgeTax
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has extended a moratorium on new short-term rentals in unincorporated parts of the county amid concerns about local housing supply, especially for victims of October’s wildfires. The moratorium ends Feb. 5, when county officials must either extend it again for a maximum of one year or let it expire.
The moratorium applies to whole-house rentals. (A ban was lifted on short-term rental operators hosting guests in extra bedrooms within their homes.) Operators licensed before the fires and properties in the Russian River Valley are not affected by the moratorium. Rental-permit applications already in the works will be allowed to move forward.
On Oct. 24, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors imposed a 45-day moratorium on issuing new vacation rental permits amid concerns that vacation rentals are contributing to a housing crisis as prices rise and residents displaced by the fires seek places to live.
The board extended the moratorium in order to collect more data on how vacation rentals affect housing availability for wildfire victims and residents in general.
The fires destroyed over 5,100 homes in Sonoma County — 2.5 percent of the total housing stock — but housing supply had been shrinking before the fires hit. According to a report by the county Economic Development Board, between 2011 and 2015, rental vacancy rates fell from 5.8 percent to 1.8 percent, while homeowner vacancy rates fell from 2.2 percent to 1 percent during the same period. A healthy rental market should experience vacancy rates of at least 5 percent, the report said.
Meanwhile, the county is offering incentives to vacation rental owners who make their homes available to people displaced by the fires. Operators who do so will be exempt from requirements including paying the 2018 county monitoring fee, meeting the recent Jan. 1 deadline for having a property manager who has passed a certification test, and collecting lodging taxes.
Short-term vacation rental operators in Sonoma County are required to collect transient occupancy tax of 12 percent of the cost of accommodations from their guests and pass it on to the county.
Airbnb automatically collects the transient occupancy tax on behalf of hosts in unincorporated Sonoma County for bookings made through its site. However, operators need to be aware that they’re responsible for collecting and filing any lodging taxes that Airbnb isn’t collecting directly for them, as well as taxes on bookings made through other platforms, such as VRBO, or HomeAway.