Big events prompting Philly City Council to take short-term rentals out of shadows

Listen
 (<a href=Photo via ShutterStock) " title="shutterstock_141263332" width="640" height="360"/>

(Photo via ShutterStock)

A Philadelphia City Council Committee has approved a bill that would tax renting a room in your home for a short duration.  

Renting homes through sites such as Airbnb is expected to take off for this year’s papal visit. 

Technically, for many neighborhoods in Philadelphia, it’s now illegal to rent out a room, though the city has not exactly been cracking down on those offering rentals.  The bill just approved by a Council committee would allow for them and apply Philadelphia’s hotel tax to any short-term rentals.  The plan is to have the new law in place before Pope Francis comes to in September.

Marissa Waxman of the Revenue Department says the city wants to make sure people understand the rules before renting a room.

“We aim to minimize the hassle for people who want to do the right thing and make doing the wrong thing such as failing to pay your taxes hard to do and with great likelihood of consequences,” she said.

Max Pomerantz of the booking service Airbnb said business is already way, way up, even before the pope or the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

“The number of guests on Airbnb in Philadelphia has doubled to 53,000 a year, a number we expect to grow as Philadelphia soon hosts many events and attractions and draws people from all over the world,” Pomerantz said.

The bill now goes to the full council for approval.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.