LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – Now it’s as easy as ever to book a short-term rental. You can do it right from your phone in minutes, but in Lancaster, it’s causing a bit of heartburn.
“The issue with the short-term rentals is that we have had Airbnb’s operating illegally in the city of Lancaster,” Mayor Danene Sorace said.
For homeowners who fail to register their rental units with the city. The city has to take matters into its own hands.
“The city of Lancaster purchases a third-party software that is able to scrape the web and has their own proprietary software that identifies the addresses of these units,” Douglas Smith, the city’s bureau chief planner, said.
For now, short-term rentals are concentrated in Lancaster’s downtown district and in mixed-use areas.
They aren’t allowed in most residential neighborhoods.
“We really want to preserve our residential neighborhoods for residents and to continue to address the needs that we have for housing,” Mayor Sorace said.
The city says right now there are about 90 registered short-term rental spots in the city, but around 100 in a gray area. The city can’t be sure whether those are in compliance or not.
While officials say they hear concerns about short-term rentals cutting into the housing supply of long-term housing, they say they do see some upside to it.
“We saw short-term rentals as a way to incentivize land owners to actually renovate and put those units on the market. They are short-term rentals but in the long term they contribute to housing stock,” Smith said.
Ultimately, all of this is subject to change as the short-term rental market evolves.
“This is going to be an iterative process where we may have additional amendments in the future just to make sure we are getting the regulation right,” Smith said.
City officials made it clear that short-term rentals economically benefit the city as long as they are done properly.