The Columbus Dispatch

Bill: Short-term rentals can’t be banned

- Laura A. Bischoff

Cities would not be able to ban or heavily restrict Airbnb, Vrbo or other short-term rentals under a new proposal backed by more than two dozen Republican lawmakers.

State Reps. Sarah Fowler Arthur, Rrock Creek, and Ron Ferguson, R-wintersvil­le, see these restrictio­ns as a property rights issue.

“Ohioans should always have the right to use what is often their most valuable asset, their homes, as an investment to make money through short-term rental,” said Fowler Arthur in a written statement.

House Bill 563 would block cities, townships and counties from banning short-term rentals and limit what kinds of regulation­s locals could put on the rentals.

The Ohio Municipal League is canvassing the organizati­on’s 730 cities and villages to get a handle on what restrictio­ns on short-term rentals are in place, director Kent Scarrett said. Local leaders want to maintain the ability to manage problems without the state preempting what cities can do, he said.

Columbus requires rental hosts to be licensed, collect and remit lodging taxes and complete a criminal background check. Cincinnati requires hosts to be licensed and pay taxes. It is unclear whether even these regulation­s would be permitted under the proposed legislatio­n. The bill seeks to prohibit rules for short-term rentals that don’t also apply to other residentia­l property.

Similar legislatio­n is pending in other states, Scarrett said. “This is not something that popped out of Ohio. It’s been happening across the country.”

The Airbnb fight is the latest battle between state lawmakers and local officials over how cities can exercise home rule powers. The Ohio Constituti­on gives local jurisdicti­on the power to legislate on local issues. There has been a long tug-of-war between state and local officials over which side gets to regulate guns, traffic cameras, backyard fireworks and plastic bag fees and bans.

Laura Bischoff is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch and 20 other Ohio news organizati­ons.

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