Jan 9, 2023 - News

Philadelphia cracks down on Airbnbs and short-term rentals

Illustration of an upside-down house forming a downward-pointing arrow.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The new year brings new regulations for Philly's Airbnbs and other short-term rentals.

Why it matters: The rule changes are expected to reduce the number of vacation property rentals.

  • Prior short-term rental rules were rarely enforced in Philly, and many rentals were operating illegally, according to the city.

What's happening: The new short-term rental regulations, which took effect Jan. 1, build on rules that have been in effect since 2015.

  • The changes include mandating that rental hosts who live in their units obtain a limited lodging license. While relatively inexpensive, license applicants must ensure their unit is up to code and meet current zoning regulations, among other new requirements.
  • Booking sites such as Airbnb will help with enforcement by requiring operators to provide proof of licenses, Councilmember Mark Squilla, the main sponsor of the legislation, tells Axios.

Flashback: The city delayed the regulations, passed in 2021, from taking effect last year because a "large percentage" of short-term rental operators failed to obtain licensure, Kenney administration spokesperson Joy Huertas told Axios.

By the numbers: The city has issued 276 limited lodging licenses as of last week, per the administration.

  • Under the previous rules, the city issued fewer than 50 permits for short-term rentals with a permanent tenant between 2015 and 2021.

What they're saying: The change is worrying some short-term rental operators.

  • "I don't know how I'm going to be able to live, and it's giving us a very short time frame for us to figure out how to pivot," Angela Romero, who rents out two units in East Kensington where she lives, told the Inquirer.

Squilla said the new regulations will "initially drive down the number" of short-term rentals operating in the city but they'll help ensure bad actors are held accountable in the long-term.

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