woman calling in front of Room for rent sign-cm

Thanks to modern technology, property owners are able to connect to would-be visitors to rent out unused rooms in their houses. It’s proving to be a win-win for those property owners and their guests alike. However, these kinds of voluntary, mutually beneficial arrangements are being threatened by the heavy hands of government overreach and overregulation.

Many Clackamas County residents stand to benefit from the use of apps like Air BnB, and no doubt some already are. With the click of a few buttons, someone can rent out a room or two to a family on vacation, an individual on a business trip or tourists of all kinds.

But some are asking the county to adopt harsh restrictions on these kinds of transactions. They’ve even gone so far as to ask that the sheriff’s office be used to enforce those regulations.

As the chair of the county board of commissioners, I’m pushing back against this approach. For one, it’s a poor use of our limited law enforcement resources. For another, it runs the risk of violating the property rights of our residents. And that is something I will never support.

One benefit of these accessory short-term rental arrangements is that they could very well be helping people stay in their homes. The COVID outbreak and resulting government shutdowns have devastated businesses, industries, families and individuals throughout the nation and the entire world. Peoples’ pocketbooks have been battered for nearly a year now.

Renting out spare bedrooms has enabled a lot of otherwise vulnerable families to avoid foreclosure. The extra income they earn from serving as hosts has made a huge, positive difference in their lives. This is something I would be extremely reluctant to take away from them.

These kinds of rentals are an efficient use of residential structures. They ensure that a home’s primary use remains residential without taking away from the character of the neighborhood. For visitors, it enables them to stay in a more residential setting. It feels more like home because it is a home. Those who prefer hotel rooms always have that option available to them as well.

Even the City of Portland, not exactly known for defending property rights or being business friendly, has an ordinance in place enabling accessory short-term rentals. The number of bedrooms available for rental to overnight guests can be limited. Detached structure bedrooms can also be rented out.

Any concerns surrounding fire, life and safety can also be met by ensuring that each room available for rental meets building code requirements. The concerns of neighbors are met by ensuring that the property owner provide them a letter of notification and including that documentation in their licensing application. Property owners can also be required to keep a guest log book with relevant information that can be inspected by staff.

Companies like Air BnB work with their customers, hosts and municipalities. They’re proactive about informing would-be hosts about the regulatory requirements, such as licensing and registration. Links to applicable building codes are given to hosts and customers and the information about hosts is passed on to the governing body.

In other words, everyone wins. This is an ideal arrangement for everyone involved and should be free from excessive government involvement. I will continue working to preserve the property rights of Clackamas County residents, when it comes to this and all other matters.

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