State College Borough Cracks Down On AirBNB
The State College Borough is attempting to crack down on AirBNB users in the area, especially people who purchase property for the express purpose of renting it on the home sharing platform
Zoning officer John Wilson told the Centre Daily Times these “tourist houses” to be homes that are not actually occupied by their owners, and instead are rented out for very short periods of time to people visiting State College.
AirBNB is a popular service which can most simply be described as Uber for your house. Users can rent out their homes and apartments and set their own rates, similar to a hotel. Unlike hotels, these properties are not regulated by government, but operate on a feedback system so potential guests can read previous guests reviews of the property. AirBNB hosts who continually receive bad ratings are booted from the app.
A popular time for these houses is during football season, when people return to town for a single weekend and the price of booking a hotel is high. According to the CDT report, the Borough seems to be focusing on rentals from property where the owner doesn’t live, but regulations for traditional AirBNB users who still live in their property but rent occasionally and on weekends could also be in the works.
The monitoring of these short-term rentals began during the 2013 football season, when the issue was brought up by the council. In 2014, 24 homes in the borough were identified as short-term rentals, and four of them were specifically identified as tourist homes. Of those four, two were resolved, while the other two appealed enforcement action, which was upheld by the zoning hearing board.
This year, 51 homes were identified as short-term rental homes and eight were identified as tourist homes. During the last home football game of the season, those 51 short-term homes will be monitored by zoning department officers throughout the weekend.
After a home is determined to be used for tourist rentals, a letter is sent to the owner informing them they have 30 days to cease rentals, or else they will be issued an enforcement notice. They owner could face civil actions if they continue to rent out the property
Since these homes appear all throughout State College in different neighborhoods, it can be tough to identify and monitor them. The State College Borough is now ending its third season of investigation, and will soon make a recommendation to the council based on what they’re learned over the past few years.