Portland and HomeAway make a deal on lodging tax collection
- Mar 3, 2018 | Jennifer Sokolowsky
Short-term vacation rental site HomeAway has reached a settlement with Portland, Oregon, over lodging tax collection.
HomeAway and the city have been embroiled in lawsuits since 2015, with Portland wanting HomeAway to collect lodging taxes and divulge information about hosts, and HomeAway contending that tax collection is the hosts’ responsibility.
In the settlement, HomeAway agreed to begin collecting city and county lodging taxes totaling 13.5 percent on behalf of its Portland customers. The company also agreed to turn over the names, addresses, and contact information of its Portland hosts to the city and will pay Portland $275,000.
The settlement makes Portland one of only a handful of cities where short-term rental sites have agreed to release information on hosts to authorities. In San Francisco, for example, Airbnb registers hosts with the city and does not allow unregistered listings on its site.
Portland legalized short-term rentals in private homes in 2014. Hosts are required to live in the short-term rental property for at least nine months of the year, and they must get a special permit. It’s estimated that 80 percent of the city’s 4,500 short-term rental hosts do not have the required permits. The city has issued 1,618 permits for short-term rentals since 2014.
As part of the settlement, HomeAway — as well as affiliates VRBO and VacationRental.com — will be able to register hosts online for short-term rental permits. Hosts must attest that they meet city safety requirements, such as requiring smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and exits in case of fire. The city reserves the right to inspect rental properties if needed. HomeAway must remove any listings for properties that do not have approved permits.
City officials said that the settlement with HomeAway could be a model for deals with other short-term rental sites.
Airbnb already has an agreement with the state of Oregon to automatically collect the state’s 1.8 percent transient lodging tax on all Oregon bookings.