Utah is making headlines this week after advancing legislation to prevent cities and local governments from preying on the free-market.
A bill aims to allow portions of owner-occupied residences to be rented out and to block cities from using home sharing websites to target citizens who are using these free-market services. This plan would strengthen the rights of homeowners and ensure they can use their property in any way they see fit. The bill (H.B. 258) received overwhelming support passing out of committee on a 13-1 vote, and will now move on to be considered by the full Utah House of Representatives.
Utah is one of the most popular tourist spots in the United States. In 2016, tourist visitation to Utah’s famous national parks, state parks and other scenic areas hit record levels. As tourism numbers show no signs of slowing down, the sharing economy provides affordable lodging choices for visitors. Thanks to home sharing, facilitated by companies such as Airbnb and Home away which connect local residents to travelers looking for a place to stay, overbooked hotel rooms don’t mean a city is off-limits to visitors.
This is not the case everywhere though. When new markets find themselves operating in unregulated territories, it doesn’t take long for the state to intervene. Across America, well-intentioned but misguided policymakers are enacting heavy-handed regulations on home sharing that stifle innovation and limit opportunity. Take Chicago, for example. The City Council has passed new rules that subject homeowners to warrantless searches and discrimination while violating their rights to equal protection under law. In San Francisco, the City Council has proposed regulations that discourage home sharing by limiting the number of nights in a year that hosts can rent their house.
New York City has perhaps the nation’s strictest home sharing regulations, essentially banning the industry from operating within city limits. It is already illegal for apartment-dwelling residents to rent out space for less than 30 days. New legislation signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo takes regulations even further by punishing residents for merely listing their apartments on home sharing websites. Under the new regulations, those caught advertising short-term rental spaces on sites like Airbnb are subject to fines ranging from $1,000 to $7,500.
If New York is too pricey, now might be a good time to visit the Beehive State. Since home sharing has helped reduce hotel rates, visitors can enjoy a variety of options at competitive prices.