Short Term Rentals a Growing Concern in Duluth
Increased Number of Short Term Renters Not Obtaining Permits
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When you search for Duluth on Airbnb.com, for your average family of four, there are 32 rental listings.
On VRBO.com, there are 51, and on HomeAway.com, 49.
But how many of these options are run by permitted renters?
“They’ve got to get the fire inspection permit, they’ve got to apply for the sales tax permit, they’ve got to apply for the motel/hotel/Bed & Breakfast license, and they’ve got to do the lodging tax,” explained Keith Hamre, Director of Planning for the City of Duluth.
Recently, Duluth has seen an increase in the number of short term rentals being offered by non–licensed renters.
“It’s like doing a black market rental,” said Eve Graves, a permitted renter. “Would you shut down somebody running an illegal daycare when you found out about it? Yeah,” she compared.
Obtaining a permit is a lengthy and expensive process.
“Generally, it takes at the minimum 45 days, up to 60 days very easily,” Hamre said.
“It seems like we were paying $1000 here, $1000 there,” Graves admitted.
In 2013, the city of Duluth set rules and regulations for renting, what it calls, ‘vacation dwelling units.’
“It’s for the benefit of both parties,” said Graves.
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, there is five-night minimum. All other months, a three-night minimum.
Rules that non–permitted renters don’t have to abide by.
“Somebody comes to me and says, ‘Can I rent your place for two nights?’ and I’ll say, “Legally I have to do five.’ They’ll just go to this other person,” Graves explained.
Registered renters also pay monthly taxes to the city.
“A sales tax, a lodging tax, and a business license,” Hamre said.
Plus, they have to follow safety regulations.
“Everything had to be up to code,” said Graves.
Duluth is working on a 12–month moratorium ordinance to put an end to the issue.
“In which they want to look at enforcement mechanisms, they want to look at how to create a registry within the city,” Hamre explained.
Eve says it should be an easy fix.
“If they’re listed on a site and don’t have a license it’s easy to find,” Graves said.
And one she says needs to be corrected.
“It’s not fair, it’s not fair to the rest of us.”