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House Bill 506 — Short-term rentals, regulation

House Bill 506 — Short-term rentals, regulation

Parrish Miller
February 13, 2024

Bill Description: House Bill 506 clarifies how Idahoans may use their property for short-term rentals and allows counties and cities to impose licensing requirements for such use. 

Rating: -1

Does it increase barriers to entry into the market? Examples include occupational licensure, the minimum wage, and restrictions on home businesses. Conversely, does it remove barriers to entry into the market?

Currently, Section 67-6539, Idaho Code, says, in part, "Neither a county nor a city may enact or enforce any ordinance that has the express or practical effect of prohibiting short-term rentals or vacation rentals in the county or city. A county or city may implement such reasonable regulations as it deems necessary to safeguard the public health, safety and general welfare in order to protect the integrity of residential neighborhoods in which short-term rentals or vacation rentals operate."

House Bill 506 would amend and significantly expand this law by adding language stating that the "reasonable regulations" may not "impose greater restrictions or obligations on the short-term rental than are imposed on single family dwellings or similar structures not used as short-term rentals." It also contains a non-exhaustive list of restrictions local governments may not impose. 

This explanation is fine and could serve to clarify the intent of the law. Unfortunately, the bill would also say, "Nothing in this section shall prevent a county or city from requiring, through ordinance, a business license to operate a short-term rental" and to pay a "lawful and reasonable annual per property fee."

The bill also says that a city or county may revoke a short-term rental license if 3 or more ordinance violations occur "in or around the property" in a 12-month period. 

It should be noted here that the ordinance violations need not be committed either by the property owner or his or her renters, merely that the violations occur "in or around the property." This provision could strip property owners of the right to use their property as a short-term rental based on offenses committed by someone else. 

Another provision added by this bill would require property owners to disclose to prospective tenants if the short-term rental does not include "smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors; fire extinguishers; or a first aid kit."

Perhaps most concerning of all is the final provision of the bill, which says, "The property and property owner shall follow all requirements, including safety requirements, of the short-term rental marketplace." 

This unusual language effectively incorporates the terms and conditions of businesses like Airbnb and Vrbo into Idaho code. 

Nearly all providers of online (and many traditional) services include lengthy terms and conditions, which most people agree to with minimal if any review. Although a service could theoretically sue for breach of contract, in general, the only penalty for failing to abide by the terms and conditions would be losing access to the service. Incorporating these terms and conditions into law raises serious concerns about enforcement, especially considering that terms and conditions are frequently updated. 

Removing barriers to property owners using their property for short-term rentals is a commendable goal, but this bill imposes more obstacles than it removes and appears to give the terms and conditions of private businesses force of law. 


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