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Oklahoma City clarifies proposed home-sharing ordinances

Oklahoma City — Technically, many of the homes available through online platforms like Airbnb could be breaking the law, and city attorneys said two proposed ordinances would make it easier to rent out a house legally.

Current city ordinances require people who are renting out two or more bedrooms through home sharing websites to get a hotel license, assistant municipal counsel Laura McDevitt said. That type of license is available only for properties zoned for commercial use, she said.

It isn't clear how many of the more than 300 properties within city limits that are available through home-sharing websites have completed that process, and so far the city hasn't enforced the ordinance.

Airbnb estimated hosts in Oklahoma City earned about $2.4 million from more than 23,000 renters. Hosts earned an average of $4,700 annually.

McDevitt and Susan Randall, also an assistant municipal counsel, responded to widespread confusion about how two proposed ordinances would affect home-sharing. One of the ordinances would make home-sharing a “conditional use” for residential properties, meaning homeowners wouldn't have to get their property rezoned to rent it to short-term clients, Randall said.

Homeowners still would need to purchase a home-sharing license for $24 each year and to sign an affidavit stating they comply with residential health and safety codes, McDevitt said. Rentals also would be limited to 30 days with any particular customer, Randall said. Homeowners already are required to collect sales tax and the 5.5 percent hotel tax.

The planning commission would have to recommend the ordinance making home-sharing a conditional use before it could go to the city council, Randall said. The ordinance creating a home-sharing license separate from the hotel license can bypass planning and go to the city council, McDevitt said.

City spokeswoman Kristy Yager said the goal is to remove barriers to legal rentals through home-sharing websites.

“We're trying to make it easier to be in the home-sharing business,” she said.

Meg Wingerter

Meg Wingerter has covered health at The Oklahoman since July 2017. Previously, she lived in Topeka, Kansas, and worked at Kansas News Service and The Topeka Capital-Journal, where she earned awards for business coverage. She graduated from... Read more ›