McKee veto bill to create statewide registry of Airbnb and other rentals in RI
PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – Governor Dan McKee on Thursday vetoed legislation that would require every short-term rental property listed on third-party websites – such as those listed by Airbnb – to be registered with the state .
The General Assembly approved legislation on July 1 sponsored by Representative Lauren Carson and Senator Dawn Euer, both Democrats of Newport, who argued that a statewide registry to track the properties of short-term rental would help make the public, industry and its visitors safer. .
But McKee rejected their arguments.
“I cannot support this bill because it will create an additional burden on landowners,” he wrote in his veto message. “Short-term rental issues, like other issues related to property / land use and small business, are dealt with more effectively at the municipal level. He also noted that short-term rental operators are already required to register with the Taxation Division.
The legislation was spurred on by the death of a 22-year-old man last month at a house party in an upscale rental in Newport.
House of Commons Speaker Joe Shekarchi and Senate Speaker Dominick Ruggerio quickly issued a joint statement describing themselves as “extremely disappointed” with the veto. They argued that communities such as Newport, Narragansett and Westerly “are overwhelmed with short-term rentals”.
“It is not too much to ask to require the Department of Business Regulation to actually regulate businesses,” they said. “The responsibility given to DBR under this bill was simply to establish and maintain a list of properties offered for short-term rental. It would be the obligation of global hosting platforms to ensure their properties are registered with DBR. “
The two legislative leaders also said the tax division’s registration system was “woefully inadequate.”
When the legislation was passed by the General Assembly, Carson suggested that the growth in short-term rentals was hurting his city and the local housing market. The industry has exploded in popularity in recent years – fueled by Airbnb and VRBO websites – especially in tourist destinations such as Newport.
“In our community of Newport, the effects of the short-term rental industry are particularly evident, especially as investors have started to buy properties only to offer them for short-term rental and then take them out. of the housing stock available to residents, ”Carson said. in a statement at the time.
The Rotary League of Cities and Towns had backed the bill, while Airbnb lobbied against it.
It was not immediately clear whether the General Assembly would make an effort to overturn the governor’s veto, but Shekarchi and Ruggerio said: “We will carefully consider our next steps.
This is the second bill McKee has rejected since taking office in March, after also vetoing a bill that would change the rules for how utilities deal with renewable energy projects. .
Lawmakers plan to return for a special session in the fall, when they could resort to notwithstanding veto votes.