Pittsburgh City Council Seeks to Regulate Airbnb and Other Short-Term Rentals After Fatal Weekend Shooting
Legislation to be presented to the Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday seeks to regulate Airbnb and other short-term rental units in the city, after two teenagers were killed and eight others were injured in a shooting at an Airbnb rental property on the north side of town over the weekend.
The legislation would require anyone operating an Airbnb or similar short-term rental unit to obtain a license from the city’s Department of Permits, Licensing and Inspections. They will need to provide contact information where managers can contact them if any issues arise in the rental property, as well as other information such as the maximum number of guests allowed for each short-term rental.
Licenses should be renewed annually.
Landlords should also keep a log of guests entering the property — including their names, addresses and phone numbers — which they should provide to city code enforcement officers, if requested.
“Currently, short-term rentals are unregulated,” said Councilman Bobby Wilson, who represents the area where the recent Airbnb shooting took place. “It gives us the ability to require a license to operate one.”
Last weekend’s shooting occurred at a party with around 200 guests, many of them minors. Wilson said ensuring such tragedies don’t happen again requires more than a license for Airbnb operators, and called for increased funding for violence prevention efforts.
“I hold myself to be much more responsible than just this one measurement that’s being made,” Wilson said.
Still, he said, regulating short-term rentals is “an important step”.
Wilson is sponsoring the legislation with advisers Theresa Kail-Smith and Deb Gross.
Kail-Smith said the measure has been in the works for about two months and similar legislation has been considered in the past. The recent shooting at an Airbnb property is not the first red flag to arise from short-term rental transactions, she said.
In her neighborhood and across the city, Kail-Smith said, there have been repeated reports of people hosting loud parties at Airbnb sites, and residents calling the police about alleged drug use and the illegal parking at rental properties.
“There are all kinds of things they called the police about,” she said. “It was just one problem after another.”
Kail-Smith said regulating who owns and operates short-term rentals, and who is there, would help police and other local officials get in touch with the right people if there are problems at properties.
“It gives us a contact person, a place to work with,” she said.
Airbnb has been in contact with Wilson and his team to support his efforts to develop regulations on short-term rentals, the company said.
“Airbnb strictly prohibits parties, and we strongly support and are ready to work with Council Member Wilson and the City of Pittsburgh to develop regulations on short-term rentals,” said Theo Yedinsky, Director of Global Policy at Airbnb. ‘Airbnb.
The company said the guest who booked the Airbnb where the weekend filming took place was permanently banned from Airbnb and it plans to take legal action against the individual.
Airbnb said they try to prevent parties at their rental locations through several measures, including their neighborhood hotline, where neighbors can report parties and “party house,” a security team around the clock that enforces their party policies, requirements to undergo background checks to use the service in the United States, and technology that restricts certain bookings based on risk factors.
The legislation that is being introduced Tuesday is likely not the final draft, Kail-Smith said, as council members are working on amendments to the measure. She urged members of the public who have concerns about it to contact their council members.