“As this becomes a bigger issue, I believe that more locals are going to start putting forth guidelines, restrictions (or) bans,” the Republican said.
During a hearing Monday on the bill, Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association Executive Director Jim Sprouse told Dollar that it would be unfair if businesses such as Airbnb go unregulated.
“Often these companies are seeking to operate illegal hotels in Georgia and do not pay taxes or are subject to regulations while their profits surge,” Sprouse said.
Sprouse also said a search of Airbnb’s website found that of the 330 units in Peachtree Towers Condominiums in Atlanta, 116 were available as short-term rentals.
Brandon Hatton, a lobbyist for Airbnb, spoke in support of Dollar’s legislation. He said officials are working with local jurisdictions to ensure hosts pay taxes on their income from the company. Hatton rejected the idea that hosts use the website to operate pseudo-hotels.
“The average Airbnb hosts are individuals who are hosting (in) a spare bedroom,” he said. “They maybe have one spare property they use for a vacation-rental-style home.”
Hatton also said Airbnb was open to charging Georgia’s $5-per-night hotel fee, something that Sprouse pointed out as an issue with short-term rental companies.
Andrew McConnell, a co-founder and CEO of Rented.com, said there is such demand for places to stay, businesses such as Airbnb are not taking money away from hotels. His company pairs short-term property owners with professional rental managers.
“In recent years, the average revenue per room in Georgia hotels has outpaced inflation and is growing over 2 percent a year,” he said. “So even as Airbnb and these others come to the forefront, it’s not really taking any dollars out of the pockets of these local hotel owners.”
While Georgia Municipal Association lobbyist Michael McPherson said he opposes Dollar’s bill as it’s written, he said legally defining “short-term rental properties” would be a step in the right direction. He also suggested setting a limit on the number of times a host rents out a property each year could help his organization support the proposal.
How ever the legislation evolves, McPherson said his group maintains that local governments should control regulation of the businesses.
Dollar said he will take input from interested parties through the end of the year.