College Park City Council considers strict regulation on short-term rentals
By Stella Canino-Quiñones 🇵🇷
Councilmembers and student liaisons preparing for the Sept.26 meeting in the council chambers (Stella Canino-Quiñones)
College Park may see a change in short-term rental regulation as the city council expressed concerns about its current state in the Sept. 26 meeting.
The current regulation doesn’t distinguish between short-term and long-term rental properties. There are no limits on the number of days the property can be rented in a year.
College Park does not require registration for short-term rentals and uses county records, meaning city officials don’t know the exact number of properties in their jurisdiction, according to Bob Ryan, the public service director.
The proposed laws would provide stricter regulation and create consistency with Prince George’s County, said Suellen Ferguson, the city’s attorney.
“This town is already dominated by rentals and a lot of landlords and issues surrounding problems with properties that are somewhat neglected,” said District 1 Councilmember Alan Hew. He added,“When these things go unregulated, these problems happen.”
The county’s city council passed legislation in 2018 that taxed short-term rentals and capped the number of stays to less than 31 days on platforms like Airbnb.
The city is also planning to include a Montgomery County law in its regulation, where neighbors 300 feet away from a property can object to the application of the property becoming short-rental.
This would give neighbors more input in their community, according to Ferguson.
Currently, the city depends mainly on residents reporting about unregistered rentals. The proposed legislation would facilitate investigations.
However, It would take months to bring an unregistered property owner to court, said Ryan.
“It’s a quality of life issue. People are having issues with people coming in and out, safety concerns, no one knows what’s going on, no one can get in contact with the owner,” said District 2 Councilmember Llatetra Brown Esters.
Another issue raised in the meeting was that when short-term rental owners or agents change, they must secure a new rental occupancy permit.
District 4 Councilmember Denise Mitchell said she knows properties are not following the established procedure.
if the new legislation is passed, students and other renters who sublet their apartments over breaks will have their properties viewed as short-term rentals, according to Ferguson.
“We want to know people are invested in the community. If you’re just an owner taking advantage of that. It’s problematic,” said Brown Esters.
“We are all trying to preserve quality of life,” said Hew.
The proposed regulations will be presented as an ordinance in Tuesday’s council meeting. If passed, it would become a College Park law.