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Minneapolis passes short-term rental law – but Airbnb is considering legal action

The home-share site is unhappy with the city's data-sharing policy.
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No sooner had Minneapolis passed new rules for short-term rentals through websites like Airbnb and VRBO, Airbnb announced it was considering its "legal options."

That's because the home-sharing website is unhappy with a requirement in one of the two ordinances approved in an 11-1 vote by the Minneapolis City Council on Friday morning.

One of those ordinances (proposed by council member Jacob Frey) states that short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb must turn over data about anyone hosting renters in Minneapolis to the city – without their consent.

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This information would identify the names of a homeowner who is hosting short-term renters, as well as their address and the dates renters are staying.

Airbnb objects to this, saying it "violates the legal rights of Airbnb and its community."

"We will consider all legal options to protect innovation and the privacy of Minneapolis residents," Airbnb Midwest spokesman Ben Breit said in a statement.

The City of Minneapolis isn't fazed however, with a spokesman telling GoMN: "This ordinance has been thoroughly vetted. The City is confident that it is consistent with all applicable laws."

This has happened elsewhere

There have been similar disputes with short-term rental regulations in other cities.

Last year, the city of Chicago was sued by Airbnb hosts after it passed the same ordinance, allowing nonconsensual data sharing between rental companies and the government, the Sun Times reported.

Airbnb told GoMN that prospective renters in the Windy City are now asked for their consent to data sharing during the registration process (but if they don't consent, they can't rent).

Will you need a rental license under Minneapolis Airbnb rules?

Setting aside the privacy debate, the ordinances passed on Friday set licensing rules for anyone wanting to hosts guests at their home, or a property they own.

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Here's a breakdown of who needs a license and who doesn't:

– If you rent out a room at your house and you're at home when the renters are there, you won't be regulated and don't need to pay a license fee.

– If you live at the property you're renting out but move out when guests are there, you need a $46 annual license.

– If you're a "small hosting platform" – businesses renting out multiple short-term units but fewer than 150 in total – you pay a $630 annual licensing fee.

– If you're a "large hosting platform" renting out more than 150 units, you pay a $5,000 licensing fee.

The St. Paul City Council is also due to make a decision on its own short-term rental regulations in the near future.

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