Short-term rental unit owners in Juneau are now having to share landlord duties with the tax man.
Despite criticism from residents and small business owners, the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly passed an ordinance Monday requiring short-term rental operators to register their rentals with the city. The ordinance was approved unanimously and will take effect in October. There are penalties for those who don’t comply.
It’s the first step toward what is likely to be more regulations limiting the number of short-term rentals such as Airbnbs or VRBOs allowed in Juneau, and it may ultimately impact those those who have rentals for seasonal workers.
Bankrate.com says that short-term rentals are great ways for retirees to stay active and make a side income to supplement their Social Security and retirement savings.
“Hosting an Airbnb can be a great way for retirees to generate income after they stop working. According to an Airbnb survey, the typical host in the U.S. earned over $13,800 in 2021,” the website says.
Assemblywoman Michelle Bonnet Hale said that the Assembly can’t regulate the short-term rentals until it knows how many there are.
Concerns have been raised about potential government overreach and the impact on small businesses.
The ordinance has been opposed by many in the community, which led to a temporary delay of the decision last month.
Under the new law, operators of short-term rentals must provide the city with a description of their rental units, including address, type of property, number of bedrooms and baths.They also must show proof of having a business license. Those who don’t are mow subject to a fine of $25 per violation.
The Assembly’s solution for creating more affordable housing in Juneau is to try to crack down on one type of housing — short term rentals, which are mom-and-pop businesses often run by retirees — rather than to open up more land for residential.
Juneau has a population of 31,685 according to the U.S. Census. In 1973, the population was 16,000, and by 2000, the population was 30,668.
However, since 2020, Juneau has lost 1.8% of its population, the Census Bureau says.
While the population is not growing, it’s changing. Just 6,654 Juneau residents are under the age of 18. Three years ago, the Juneau School District had 4,600 students, but in 2022 the district saw only 4,355 students in its 15 schools.
Older Juneauites now make up a larger percentage of the population. In 2014, there were 3,398 people living in Juneau who were 65 years or older. Today, there are 4,435 seniors over the age of 65. Many of the people who operate short-term rentals in Juneau are retirees or stay-home parents who are trying to make a living in the expensive capital city.