Portland’s Short Term Rental Rules

Portland increases fines for short rentals violators

Like many U.S. cities, Portland is under pressure to protect its limited housing stock while allowing residents to earn income by renting out their property. In 2014, it became the first city in the country to regulate short term rentals (STR) advertised on sites such as Airbnb.

The law allowed for Type A accessory short-term rentals, with one or two bedrooms, for periods of less than 30 days. It also allowed accessory short-term rentals of 3 to 5 bedrooms as long as the property is submitted to a Conditional Use Review. To qualify for a short-term rental permit, either an owner or renter of the property must reside in the dwelling for 270 days of the calendar year; there is no limit to the number of nights one can have a short-term renter, but the primary resident can be absent for no more than three months. According to Oregon law, even a renter can obtain a permit to sublet the space, so long as the landlord agrees.

The initial rules required obtaining a permit and a safety inspection from the city every two years, limited guests to fewer than five, and required that the primary long-term resident be at the property during a rental for a certain number of days per year. However, the rules were largely ignored by users; in 2016, about 79% of the 3,500 Airbnb listings in Portland lacked city permits. Enforcement was so lax that even some Airbnb employees were in rampant violation of the law by not getting permits and safety inspections and by subletting multiple properties where they did not live.

Lax enforcement of Portland laws about short term rentals ended after city council authorized strict enforcement and high fine for violators. Learn more.

Lazy Enforcement Leads To New Rules

Only if neighbors complained would the city take action against illegal subletters, and even then, the city issued lukewarm warnings and seldom levied fines against violators. Without consequences, some Airbnb hosts offered multiple full-time commercial short-term rentals, which were never the intent of the original laws. In January 2017, Airbnb announced that it would only allow a host to advertise one home on the site in an attempt to curtail people from buying up multiple homes and taking them out of circulation as long term rentals. It’s “One Host, One House” policy, which it sent to City Council, is similar to the policies it in effect in San Francisco and New York City.

In 2017, the situation changed when the Portland Portland City Council passed tougher laws authorizing Bureau of Development Services (BDS) to enforce the Accessory Short Term Rental (ASTR) laws in the city of Portland with fines of $1,000- $5,000 per occurrence. The new directives, effective after March 31, 2017, offer no grace period; while violators can appeal the Code Hearings Officer, they are immediately ticketed.

Even enforcement of the new rules requires the city to become aware of violations. Property monitoring services can help landlords prevent illegal short-term rentals and reduce or eliminate short term violations all together.