i came to the board to see if anyone else had posted about this, but found nothing so wanted to update people in other cities on what we are dealing with here in philadelphia.
mid-march all philadelphia hosts received an email from airbnb telling us we would be required to acquire a littany of licenses and permits by april 1st - literally an impossible amount of time given how slow city bureaucracy works. VERY shortly before that deadline, with hosts turning guests away & cancelling reservations from april 1st on, we were notified our deadline had been extended to July 1st.
everyone hosting thru airbnb is being required to get a “commercial activity license,” a business tax ID, then, if they are only renting a room in a single family home that is also their primary residence, they can get a “limited lodging operators license” which for many people also requires a zoning overlay. these are the people that have it easy.
however, many of the old houses in philadelphia are large, from a time when families had huge families, servants (and servant quarters - separate 3rd fl apartments), and many of these large houses have operated as rooming houses for many many many decades - like my house, which was zoned as a rooming house going back to the 30’s, then was zoned as 3 units in the late 90s (as the city pushed to reduce rooming houses and convert them to apartments.) My house is very much my home - it has a beautiful garden, im active in local citizens meetings, i vote in every local election, i know all my neighbors… and all my neighbors know i airbnb a 1 bedroom unit on the back of my house. im careful about who i host - i make it clear i live here, events are not allowed, and ask people to confirm they read my rules about being respectful to neighbors. no neighbor has ever complained or had an issue with my airbnbers, but lots of times ive hosted friends and family of neighbors.
after TEN YEARS OF HOSTING, it looks like i will not be able to continue hosting with the new rules. any buildings zoned muti unit, even if owner occupied, must get HOTEL STATUS. yes, really. and they’ve made it basically impossible for us to get that. ive been going from city office to city office, filing and waiting, paying fees, filing and waiting, step by step. the last thing i filed, i was told i would get rejected, then have to file an appeal, and that would be scheduled months out.
hosts in a philadelphia airbnb hosts facebook group have said they feel like the city designed the laws to shut down airbnb entirely - and the people working in the city office confirmed that. they are rejecting almost everyone, and have even being rescinding permits that were previously issued (seems theyre making the rules more narrow as they go.)
the local narrative that pushed these laws thru was that airbnbs were party houses (see link below.) but the laws are not designed to actually stop that at all.
it just feels sad to see the city come down so hard with such strict laws that home owners like myself, who are good responsible hosts, who use the money to improve our houses, who recommend local businesses to our guests- we will be shut out, and visitors to our city wont have these opportunities to stay in our unique homey historic houses after july 1st.