Philadelphia City Hall

Philadelphia City Hall in Center City. — AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Philadelphia legislators moved to check the short-term residential rental industry in the city on Thursday, sending a bill to Mayor Jim Kenney.

City Council unanimously passed the bill, which would establish a new license system for short-term rentals, like those listed on Airbnb, and effectively treat them like commercial businesses.

Under the bill, only the primary resident of a residential dwelling — either a property owner or renter — may apply to operate a short-term rental in a dwelling. Yet in Northeast Philadelphia’s 10th District, represented by Councilmember Brian O’Neill, licenses are limited to property owners only.

The limited lodging operator licenses would cost $150 a year.

The legislation does not differentiate between the person looking to occasionally rent out their dwelling a few times a year or a business that dedicates a dwelling to short-term rentals full-time: Both would have to apply for a license.

In order to crack down on limited liability companies and other legal maneuvers to shield the identities of property owners, the legislation would require the disclosure of at least one owner of the property.

Operators of short-term rental units must use a licensed booking agent.

Booking agents of short-term rentals, like Airbnb, would be required to fork over $7,000 for an initial license to operate in the city, and $5,000 annually thereafter.

Fines for scofflaws would run up to $2,000 a day per violation.

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