St. Paul is the latest city trying to figure out how to handle Airbnb


St. Paul is the latest Minnesota city to consider adding rules and regulations on short-term rentals, like Airbnb.

The city council voted Wednesday to have the Department of Safety and Inspections and the Department of Planning and Economic Development study Airbnb and other similar rental companies, to see if how they run is in line with current city rules.

Websites such as Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway have led to a boom in homeowners renting out their properties – or even just rooms in their house – to travelers looking for a cheap alternative to a traditional hotel.

But because these short-term rentals are mostly unregulated, cities across the country are looking at whether these rentals actually meet city and state lodging rules, building and zoning codes, city council member Chris Tolbert, who introduced the resolution, said in his proposal. They're also seeing if appropriate taxes are being collected.

Tolbert notes Airbnb and other rental websites have been reported to "increase visitors and tourism," but it is the city council's responsibility to make sure those who visit St. Paul are safe.

The resolution asks city officials to evaluate if current city codes ensure visitors, landlords, neighbors and private property are safe and protected, as well as to make sure the right taxes are being collected.

The Department of Safety and Inspections and the Department of Planning and Economic Development are asked to bring their findings and any suggestions to the city council by June 1, the resolution shows.

Tolbert told the Star Tribune the city isn't trying to stop Airbnb, but said it's an "unregulated area," adding the departments may come back with no changes.

St. Paul is the latest city to look into regulating these types of rentals. Last month, Duluth proposed rules to help regulated vacation rentals. KARE 11 says Savage has regulations that effectively ban short-term rentals, and Burnsville is expected to vote on a measure that clarifies city code, prohibiting these rentals.

Eagan is also considering regulations on short-term rentals, the Star Tribune says.

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