Montgomery County residents who rent out rooms or their homes on websites such as Airbnb, FlipKey or HomeAway will be required to register with the county and receive a license for those short-term rentals beginning July 1.
That’s when a new county zoning change that’s designed to track the rental properties goes into effect. Last fall, the County Council approved the change, which makes the Department of Health and Human Services responsible for licensing the rentals and enforcing the regulations governing them.
The regulations attempt to strike a balance between residents who want to make extra income from renting their properties and neighbors who were concerned the home rentals could bring unwanted noise and traffic to their neighborhood.
Only primary residents of a home can list the property for rent; accessory apartments can’t be listed as short-term rentals. Property owners can rent units for a maximum of 120 days each year and not for more than 30 consecutive days, under the regulations.
“This law will allow our residents to participate in the growing ‘Airbnb’ economy while ensuring that we have limits to protect our neighborhoods and sense of community,” council President Hans Riemer said in a statement Monday.
The county is notifying owners of short-term rentals that they need to register their properties. The annual license fee is $150 plus processing fees. More information about the process can be found on the county’s website. Short-term rental owners are already required to pay the county’s 7 percent Room Rental and Transient Tax.
The county is using STR Helper, a program developed by Bear Cloud Software, to track online short-term rental listings in the county. The program periodically scans listing websites such as Airbnb for new properties and notifies owners they need to register with the county.
Failing to register a property can result in additional fees and penalties as well as potential restrictions on future rentals, according to the county.