Boise Short-Term Rentals: Your Guide to the Controversy and Possible New Regulations

With 2020 quickly approaching, the Boise area looks forward to a host of changes. Among what’s coming may be new regulations for Boise short-term rentals, usually furnished vacation rentals like Airbnb where a guest stays for less than 30-days at a time. These rentals offer some home owners an additional means of income, but some fear the prevalence of short-term rentals is limiting housing availability and helping drive-up housing costs. 

In September, sitting mayor Dave Bieter proposed new ordinances on Boise short-term rentals that would limit how much space an on-site owner could rent out. Under Bieter’s proposal, owners would have to: 

  • Apply to the city. 

  • Live on-site. 

  • Rent only one unit per property. 

  • Comply with all city codes. 

These regulations would only apply to short-term rentals that begin operation after any new ordinances take effect. Currently operating short-term rentals would not have to follow the new regulations. 

Proposed regulations like these have been echoed by City Council President Lauren McLean and others, who see unregulated short-term rentals as negatively impacting neighborhoods and housing availability and affordability. Conversely, groups like the Boise Regional Realtors have come out in sharp opposition to these proposals. They claim ordinances restricting short-term rentals are a threat to the rights of property owners. 

But where does the controversy come from? Are short-term rentals really impacting housing costs and availability? Let’s take a look at the issue:

Arguments for Short-Term Rental Regulation 

Proposed regulations came as a response to concerns from Boise residents that the short-term rental market is negatively impacting the city. Some feel the prevalence of these rentals is damaging due to their impact on:

  • Character of neighborhoods.

  • Noise, parking, and traffic. 

  • Availability and affordability of housing. 

Concerned citizens see the rise of short-term rentals in Boise, up over 10% from last year according to short-term rental site AirDNA, as potentially damaging to the culture of neighborhoods. They see the absence of on-site owners as an absence of oversight and maintenance, while coming-and-going vacationers boost traffic and noise in the area. 

Of the 1,255 active rentals in Boise, AirDNA reports 43% as available full time. This means over 500 homes that might be open to long-term renters or owners are occupied by short-term rental activity. With a rental vacancy rate of only 2.22% according to We Know Boise, some point to short-term rentals as adding to the problem of limited housing supply, in turn driving up housing costs even further.

Arguments Against Short-Term Rental Regulation 

Others argue that regulating short-term rentals will do more harm than good. They say these restrictions actually: 

  • Infringe on rights of property owners. 

  • Won’t make housing more affordable. 

  • Keep owners from offsetting high housing costs. 

Restrictions on the rights of property owners to rent their properties as they see fit necessarily returns some backlash. In Idaho, state law prohibits cities from banning short-term rentals, but does allow for their regulation in broad terms for reasons like “general welfare” and protecting the “integrity of residential neighborhoods.” For some, the current state of short-term rentals in Boise does not warrant such restrictions and would come as a violation of property rights. 

Arguments against short-term rental regulation include the unknown effects of restricting rentals. If new rules stopped the growth in the short-term rental market completely, only about 120 homes would be added to Boise’s long-term rental or buyer’s markets. Across 2018, over 11,000 homes were sold in Ada County, according to IMLS data. With this perspective, 120 homes might be a drop in the bucket that could have a marginal effect on affordability. 

Additionally, some argue, the income from short-term rentals allow home owners to offset the rising costs of housing in the area. Restricting these rentals may become a restriction on owner income.

What to Expect

After releasing his proposal, Mayor Bieter conducted a survey of Boiseans and their thoughts on regulating short-term rentals. 67% of respondents opposed changes to city code. To further explore the effects and challenges of short-term rentals, the City of Boise will form an advisory group of stakeholders that will provide recommendations to city legislatures. With the elections this week, time will tell how short-term regulations move forward. 

Large cities like Portland or San Francisco limit short-term rentals to one host per home or require the rental to be registered with the city. While Boise is far from the size of many places that have instituted such regulations, the rapid growth in the city may warrant change in the coming years.

Provided by  Idaho Statesman

Provided by Idaho Statesman

208 Community 

Residents of the Treasure Valley, do you support regulations on short-term rentals? What are your experiences with these rentals in your neighborhoods? How can Boise and its neighbors protect neighborhoods while maintaining property rights and economic opportunities? 

Find on social media and share your thoughts, comments, and experiences with short-term rentals. We can’t wait to hear from you.