Central Oregon Daily▶️ Deschutes County considers business licenses for short-term rentals

▶️ Deschutes County considers business licenses for short-term rentals

▶️Deschutes County considers business licenses for short-term rentals

Short term rentals, the kind you book through apps like Airbnb and VRBO, could be facing new requirements in Deschutes County.

In most cities those rentals are already regulated. But outside city limits — at least in Deschutes County — there is little monitoring or limits on short term rentals.

On Wednesday, Deschutes County Commissioners considered how six other Oregon counties implemented short-term rental business license programs and discussed the cost and feasibility of implementing such programs locally.

The estimated cost to initiate a short-term rental business licensing program in unincorporated parts of Deschutes County range from $500,000 to $1 million. 

“What’s the responsibility for verifying who is the point of contact? What’s the process for handling complaints? Those are all open ended questions that don’t naturally come to the community development department if it’s not a land use program,” said Peter Gutowsky, Deschutes County Community Development director.

There are more than 3,000 homes in rural Deschutes County that are available as short-term rentals.

Most of them are in developed destination resorts like Sunriver, Black Butte Ranch and Eagle Crest that have a long history of managing rental housing for public health and safety. 

It’s the approximately 800 rental homes outside resort areas that appear to be driving county commission discussions to require business licenses.

“We are allowing this right now when we don’t know what could be going on out there so how do we get our hands around it? We implement a program. When we implement a program, things might be brought to the county’s attention,” said Stephanie Marshall, Deschutes County assistant legal counsel. “What do we do with that information? I don’t know if that would require additional code enforcement officers.” 

Deschutes County recently approved development of accessory dwelling units outside urban growth boundaries and many of those could become short-term rentals.

The question is who do neighbors direct concerns to if there are problems with how rental units are run?

“A process of having a place to report for neighbors to call in and say there’s loud noise. We think the septic is overflowing. There’s not a trash receptacle,” said Jen Patterson, Deschutes County strategic initiative manager. In counties where short-term rental business licenses have been adopted, “These things did get resolved at the lowest level.” 

Most Oregon counties that require short-term rental business licenses regulate the number of legal bedrooms, the capacity of on-site septic systems and proof of liability insurance.

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