St. Louis Mayor Jones signs restrictions on short-term rentals like Airbnb, VRBO
Updated at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 7 with comments from Airbnb
The City of St. Louis has its first restrictions on short-term rentals.
Mayor Tishaura Jones on Monday signed two pieces of legislation making up the regulations. They were the product of nearly six months of work, with years of negotiations behind the scenes.
“I want to be clear – short-term rentals are valuable for tourism,” Jones said at a news conference and ceremonial bill-signing. “I can’t say I blame anyone for getting a glimpse into our beautiful historic neighborhoods. However, we also know that without regulations, short-term rentals can and have posed a threat to the safety of our neighbors and tenants alike.”
Before Monday, St. Louis had no restrictions on properties listed on platforms like Airbnb. Discussions about regulations started in 2018, and the effects of that lack of limits were laid bare in June, when one teen died and 11 more were injured in a shooting at a downtown party.
That party wasn’t necessarily the straw that broke the camel’s back, said 4th Ward Alderman Bret Narayan, who maneuvered the proposals through the board, but it brought his colleagues’ attention to the problem in a tragic way.
“Any time there’s a situation like that, I think it’s our duty as a legislative body to see if there are legislative fixes.”
The bills place new responsibilities on listing platforms and operators of short-term rentals alike.
Every property listed on a platform must have an operating permit, and one person can only be listed on four permits. There are also limits on the percentage of units in a multifamily building that can be used for short-term rentals.
In addition, each property must have a rental agent who can be on location within an hour to address problems. And stays must be two days or longer, in an effort to cut down on or eliminate the renting of properties simply to throw parties.
“We looked back at the data that we had from the building division and the police department on more problematic units, and we saw overwhelmingly, they were marketed as one-night stays,” Narayan said.
For their part, platforms are required to de-list any property that has its operating permit revoked by the city. They also will not be able to complete any bookings for properties that do not have a permit number.
Luis Briones, public policy manager for Airbnb, said in a statement that the new regulations provided needed clarity for hosts.
"We look forward to working with the City as they implement the registration system to ensure home sharing continues to serve and strengthen the St. Louis community," he said.
The bills will take effect no later than a year from Nov. 7, the day they were signed. That gives the building division time to create the systems needed for enforcement.
The city will track and compile all code violations and other legal infractions, as well as notify the owners and agents of any violations. A property that receives three violation notices within a 24-month period will have its permit revoked for up to 12 months, though the owner can appeal. The building commissioner will also have the authority to revoke a permit if the rental is not being operated in accordance with the regulations.
Even though the framework of the new laws won’t be fully operational until 2024, Narayan said they provide a signal that the city takes problematic short-term rentals seriously.