Landlords of Airbnb and other short-term rental properties speak to Pittsburgh Council about proposed regulations

The Pittsburgh City Council’s public hearing Thursday on its proposed regulation of short-term rental properties included comments from owners of such rental properties. They said they and those they rent to are not the sources of the problems the council hopes to solve. “Short-term rentals represent a necessary element for the community. There are people from outside who come to visit our hospitals, who are students, who are graduate students who are here, health professionals , businesses. There’s a whole long list of people who have to come into the community and need housing for the time they’re here,” Michael Sobkowiak, a short-term rental operator, said to Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 following his testimony Many landlords who spoke urged the council to ensure that any new regulations do not inadvertently hurt owners, managers and short-rental guests. acting responsibly at these properties Council legislation would require short-term rental operators to be licensed by the city Landlords would have to keep records res of anyone entering the property and establish an available contact person for authorities in the event of an emergency. Corey Deithorn, an Airbnb short-term rental host, told Action News 4 from Pittsburgh: term offer flexible and viable travel options for people coming to our city, whether for business, pleasure or medical procedures. And that there are above all responsible hosts, myself included, who are for regulation and responsible regulation. from some neighborhood residents who are concerned about the development of some short-term rental properties. “Multi-units are purchased by companies and these multi-units are used exclusively for Airbnbs. So the question you have to ask yourself is: ‘Isn’t this just a hotel? While many of these areas are only for residences and not hotels,” Mount Washington resident Bill Schlachter told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4. A representative from a group of bed and breakfast inn owners also testified. He said short-term rentals should be subject to the same regulations as bed and breakfasts.”When you have two competing businesses offering the same service and one is subject to government regulation and the other goes under the radar, it’s not appropriate,” Robert Kranmer of the PA Association of Bed and Breakfast Inns told Action News of Pittsburgh 4. Councilman Bobby Wilson, who chaired Thursday’s hearing afternoon, at said the short-term rental regulations could be further discussed at council in about two weeks. Let’s just call this multi-transitional Airbnb charade for what it is, a hotel masquerading as a loophole,” Schlachter told the board, pointing out rental availability last weekend in Pittsburgh. “There were four left. short term rentals available and hotels in town were fully booked. The city needs more housing, not less,” testified Chad Wise, of Lawrenceville, on behalf of the Steel City Short Term Rental Alliance. Matthew Steffy-Ross and Jaiden Brown were killed when as many as 50 shots were fired inside and outside a party at an Airbnb rental property filled with 200 people in the East Allegheny neighborhood of Pittsburgh , in the North Side. “I think as responsible hosts we try as much as possible to prevent these types of incidents from happening and parties from happening. We are again all for the regulations to continue to prevent these things to happen,” Deithorn said. Sobkowiak said, “We’re part of the community. I mean, my Airbnbs are three blocks from my house. And so I’m part of this neighborhood here. It’s not like I’m a faceless, nameless business owner,” Airbnb strictly prohibits parties, and we support reasonable regulations for short-term rentals, including the check-in system proposed in the draft. current order. We are committed to supporting the development of workable, enforceable, and fair STR regulations for Steel City that balance community needs with hosts’ ability to generate much-needed revenue. »

The Pittsburgh City Council’s public hearing Thursday on its proposed regulation of short-term rental properties included comments from owners of such rental properties. They said they and those they rent to are not the sources of the problems the council hopes to solve.

“Short-term rentals represent a necessary element for the community. There are people who come from outside who come to visit our hospitals, who are students, graduate students who are here, health professionals, There’s a whole long list of people who need to come into the community and need housing for the duration of their stay here,” Michael Sobkowiak, a short-term rental operator, told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 after his testimony.

Many owners who spoke urged the council to ensure that any new regulations do not inadvertently harm owners, managers and short-term rental guests acting responsibly at these properties.

Council legislation would require short-term rental operators to be licensed by the city. Landlords should keep records of anyone who has entered the property and establish a contact person for the authorities in the event of an emergency.

Corey Deithorn, an Airbnb short-term rental host, told Action News 4 from Pittsburgh, “I hope they see short-term rentals as flexible and viable travel options for people coming in our city, whether for business, pleasure or medical procedures. And that above all there are responsible hosts, myself included, who are for regulation and responsible regulation.”

Council also heard from neighborhood residents who are concerned about the development of some short-term rental properties.

“Multi-units are purchased by businesses and these multi-units are used exclusively for Airbnbs. So the question you have to ask yourself is, ‘Isn’t this just a hotel?’ While many of these areas are only for residences and not hotels,” Mount Washington resident Bill Schlachter told Action News 4 of Pittsburgh.

A representative of a group of bed and breakfast owners also testified. He said short-term rentals should be subject to the same regulations as bed and breakfasts.

“When you have two competing companies offering the same service and one is subject to government regulation and the other goes unnoticed, that’s not appropriate,” said Robert Kranmer of the PA Association of Beds. and Breakfast Inns, in Pittsburgh’s Action News 4. .

Council member Bobby Wilson, who chaired Thursday afternoon’s hearing, said the short-term rental regulations could be further discussed in council in about two weeks.

“Let’s just call this multi-transitional Airbnb charade for what it is, a hotel masquerading as a loophole,” Schlachter told the board.

A representative of a group of short-term rental property owners told the council that such properties fill a need. He pointed to rental availability last weekend in Pittsburgh.

“A total of four short-term rentals remained available and hotels in the city were full. The city needs more housing, not less,” Chad Wise of Lawrenceville said on behalf of Steel City Short Term Rental. Alliance.

Pittsburgh legislation requiring short-term rental operators to be licensed by the city came after a deadly shooting over Easter weekend.

Matthew Steffy-Ross and Jaiden Brown, 17, were killed when as many as 50 shots were fired inside and outside a party at an Airbnb rental property filled with 200 people in the neighborhood East Allegheny of Pittsburgh, on the North Side.

“I think as responsible hosts we try as much as possible to prevent these types of incidents and parties from happening. We are again all for the regulations to continue to prevent these things from happening. “, said Deithorn.

Sobkowiak said, “We’re part of the community. I mean, my Airbnbs are three blocks from my house. And so I’m part of this neighborhood here. It’s not like I’m a landlord faceless and nameless company.”

Airbnb itself did not have anyone speak before the city council, but it did submit written testimony. In a statement emailed to Action News 4 of Pittsburgh, Kelly Fay, head of public policy for Airbnb, said, “Airbnb strictly prohibits parties, and we support reasonable regulations for short-term rentals, including the registration system proposed in the current draft ordinance. are committed to supporting the development of enforceable, enforceable, and fair STR regulations for Steel City that balance community needs with hosts’ ability to generate much-needed revenue. »

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