Lynn Rennshaw’s Letter to the Editor (GT, 7/20) corrected several errors in Ms. Moya’s story. Unfortunately, Ms. Moya’s answer contained even more errors.
Without acknowledging her error, Moya tacitly accepted Rennshaw’s correction that the ISE requires all landlords – not just landlords – to file an annual affidavit (under threat of criminal sanction) swearing to occupancy. It has nothing to do with being an owner or owner-occupier. However, Moya made many other mistakes and other misleading claims.
Mrs. Moya falsely states that the tax applies to “Airbnbs unoccupied for at least 120 days” (i.e., occupied for 8 months). This is false for several reasons:
1. Section 3.38.040(G)(1)(h) of the ISE exempts all registered short-term rentals, regardless of the number of days occupied.
2. Properties do not owe the tax if they are occupied at least 120 days/year, not if they are “unoccupied for at least 120 days.
3. About half of the STRs in the city are said to be “housed”, which by definition means that the owner lives there at least half the year. That in itself would render these STRs exempt from tax, regardless of the other exemptions I describe.
4. Properties that are unregistered vacation rentals are already in violation of the city ordinance, and the city has been actively enforcing that ordinance for years. Either way, if any still exist, they would not be in violation of the ISE even if illegally rented and otherwise occupied for at least 120 days/year. If Ms. Moya refers to these properties (if there even are any), she certainly doesn’t say so clearly in her story. Moreover, these owners are already defying city laws and can hardly be expected to comply with the ISE.
As Lynn Rennshaw pointed out, Ms. Moya has repeatedly used the term “empty vacation rentals” when it does not apply. Perhaps she was confused about this because many ISE proponents also mistakenly believe that ISE applies to vacation rentals when it does not.
ANSWER: While the original article explained the rules precisely, Eric is correct. The phrase “unoccupied for at least 120 days” in our reporter’s response should have been “if not used for at least 120 days per year, or empty for more than 8 months”. We regret the error. – Editor
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