City of Bloomington offers permits and fines on short-term rentals like Airbnb

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The City of Bloomington has proposed regulations on short-term rentals like those hosted on the Airbnb website, which would require hosts to obtain permits and inspections.

“The City of Bloomington had received many calls about whether we were actually regulating Airbnb (properties),” said Doris Sims, director of housing and neighborhood development.

Airbnb, VRBO, and other sites provide a way for visitors to rent out your home, or a room in your home. The idea has gained popularity, as a cheaper alternative to hotels and resorts.

Bloomington’s proposal, in the form of an ordinance to be submitted to the city council later this year, would have a price.

Anyone renting a room or their home for less than 30 days would need to get a two-year permit and pass an inspection.

It also has a cost. A permit would cost $100, with a renewal fee of $10 every two years. The inspection, also required every two years, would cost $95 each time.

Anyone caught operating without a permit would be subject to a $2,500 fine and an additional $5,000 if caught again within 12 months.

“We consider it a way for someone to actually… put on that they’ve been cleared through town, so it shows they have a safe unit that someone can rent,” Sims said.

However, not all people FOX59 spoke to in Bloomington saw it that way. Many thought the costs were too high and would discourage people from opening their homes to visitors.

“In my opinion, I really think it’s just a way for the government to make more money,” said resident Jennifer Tieman.

“I think it’s a really good thing for Bloomington, so regulating it, I think, will stop people from using it, which is a bit of a shame,” resident Andy Calderone said.

Sims said the city wants to make sure people are staying at good properties to maintain Bloomington’s reputation. She said the same regulations apply to those who rent full-time.

“We just want to make sure anyone coming into the Bloomington community has a great experience coming here,” Sims said.

The ordinance also requires numerous steps in order to obtain a license, including notification of neighbors, registration as a retail merchant with the state, and registration for the collection of the innkeeper tax from the county.

The city will host a public forum, and Sims said they were open to changes to the ordinance. It will take place at the Hôtel de Ville on Tuesday, September 27 at 5:30 p.m.

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